On June 14, I took a magnificent 1 ½ day trip to Australia’s capitol, Canberra. Getting there was simple, I took a train from Newcastle to Sydney and then another train from Sydney to Canberra. I had to start the trip at night to make it to Canberra early so I could make the most of my time there. I boarded the train to Sydney at almost two in the night and off I went to Sydney. After reaching Sydney Central station, I lounged around in the beautiful grand concourse section of the station. The station is very old and historic. After taking in the surroundings for about an hour, I boarded the train for Canberra. Unlike the train from Newcastle to Sydney, which is paid for with the Opal public transportation card, the Canberra train must be pre-booked online. The train journey to Canberra was one of the most beautiful train journeys I had ever taken in my life. I passed through various sheep grazing fields, mountains and hills, and cozy small towns along the way. I was even able to see a few wallabies! The journey was overall very picturesque to say the least!
After reaching Canberra station, I walked to a nearby convenience store and purchased the local public transportation card. Canberra is in its own state, the Australian Capitol Territory. The state is situated within New South Wales. Because of this I had to purchase a new public transportation card, as Opal cards won’t work in Canberra. Once I got that situated, I walked to my hotel. Canberra isn’t a very big city, so it can easily be traversed by foot.
After getting refreshed, I headed out to the Parliament building for a tour. The Australian Parliament building gives out public tours which is a wonderful way to check out the building and learn about the central government. The tour was very informative, and I learned a lot of interesting things about the Australian government and the building itself. I learned, for example, that the Australian government has a senate and house of representatives and that the parliament building was designed by an Italian-American architect. The parliament building is itself quite an architectural masterpiece.
Afterwards, I traveled down and toured the Old Parliament Building which is situated right across from the current Parliament building. The Old Parliament Building is the original parliament building that was the seat of government during the early to mid-20th century. This building has a more traditional colonial architecture and both chambers of the bicameral legislature are built to resemble the British house of lords and house of commons.
By the time I got done touring, it was five in the evening and all the other landmarks were closed so I walked down to the National Library of Australia and chilled in there while checking out their historical literature collections.
The next day, I woke up and went to the Royal Australian Mint where they manufacture the country’s coins. There I also took a tour and learned about the history of currency in Australia. An interesting fact I learned is that during Australia’s early colonial period, coins were used from all over the world as the colony had a shortage of coinage, so the colonists used anything they could get of value from Spanish coins to raw gold ingots. The mint also produces medals and currencies for other countries around the world.
After seeing the mint, I traveled to the National Museum of Australia. Like the Parliament building, this museum is also an architectural wonder. I toured the museums various exhibits, all of which display a comprehensive history of Australia and its peoples. The museum is a great place to learn Australian history and culture through various artifacts and exhibits.
The last landmark I saw on my Canberra trip was the Australian War Memorial. The Australian War Memorial is a breathtaking site. The landmark hosts a museum dedicated to Anzac history and service as well as a memorial to the Anzac forces who served in wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping missions. The most striking part of the memorial was a wall with the names of those who died in service. Seeing the wall was a humbling experience as I learned about how Anzacs played pivotal and heroic roles in major conflicts throughout recent history from World War 1 to Iraq.
Canberra is a beautiful city and I enjoyed my time there. I wasn’t able to see all I wanted to see due to time constraints, but I was satisfied with what I was able to experience. The city has many museums, galleries, and monuments. They provide a great opportunity for learning about all things Australia. If you ever visit Australia, make sure Canberra is on your itinerary!
Aman Kukal is a senior at the University of Missouri-Kansas City studying Economics. Aman is spending the spring semester in Newcastle, Australia with the ISA Newcastle, Australia: Courses with Locals program.
Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.