A Brief Visit to Canberra

View of the War Memorial in Canberra (near the hotel)

I started my brief visit by walking down to the local post office (I am a stamp/coin collector) then headed through the shops of the town centre towards the artificial lake in the middle of the city. Unfortunately, they don't really intend you to walk the way I was walking so I ended up having to jay-walk across some rather large roads. I ended up in the middle of the second of the two giant circles that define this city walking across largely uncut grass through some sparsely planted trees to a rusty flag pole in the middle. It had a great view down to the parliament building.

View of the Parliament Building and Water Jet

I headed across the busy road towards the lake where I ended up having a seat near to the water jet. It is very windy and quite cool today - Go figure, the one day I have time to spend looking around the weather changes from the warmth and sun of the entire week. I had a seat and received a phone call from the bank asking me about my purchase from the post office (seriously, I had TOLD them I was going to be in Australia this week!) which was quite difficult to communicate with the wind and noise of the water. Of course, the water jet was also making me quite wet at the same time…

Water Jet

I walked along the side of the lake directly through the spray from the water jet (yes, I did get a bit wet, thank you, and trying to keep the paper bag they had put my purchases in at the post office - evidently they don't use plastic any more…great but not good for waterproofing). The concrete path is very nice and well tended. Other than one or two other tourists and a few ducks, I was basically alone.

Statue on the Lake (Burly Griffin)

I ended up walking up massive, divided “Anzac Park Road” that leads to the National Memorial where I stopped at each of the memorials I passed to have a look and take a picture. Each of the monuments is quite different from one another and all very interesting to look at. I wanted to have a longer look at the Vietnam memorial but when a big load of school children arrived in a bus I decided to continue on…

Dessert Mounted Corps Memorial

Korean War Memorial

National Memorial to the Australian Army

The roads here are all very impressive - Wide, large, and generally devoid of any character (sorry). I eventually made it to the memorial, hung a left and quickly came across the hotel (ok, I had been using Google Maps on my phone to make sure I did not get lost here as getting lost could have meant a 3-4 mile walk out of my way…).

Back at the hotel I hopped in the car to find something to eat. This time I spent a bit more time to try to find something a bit nicer. I eventually found Crust Gourmet Pizza (and, bonus, parking!) where I waited for a few minutes for them to make my “Wagyu Prawn” (“4+ Marble Score Wagyu Beef, Marinated Tiger Prawns, Fresh Asparagus, Roasted Capsicum, Shallots on a Tomato base, garnished with Hollandaise, Cracked Pepper & Sea Salt”). Of course, I had my slurpee on the side, but, over the course of the next few hours, I was able to finish the whole thing!

Dinner - Pizza from "Crust Gourmet Pizza"

While eating I was preparing the training material to send to the trainees as well as generating their training certificates. I had put in a couple of emails before heading out earlier to have some of the people in our London office put together the certificates. Internet at the hotel has been pretty bad with them charging for access. I ended up on the first day with a few complimentary 30 minute access codes but I figured today I needed a bit more so paid for a 2 hour slot but this did not work so I ended up complaining a couple of times before they eventually gave me (at no extra charge) 24 hours of access…useful if I was going to be here another 24 hours but as I am not…

I have been doing a bit of thinking about what to do tomorrow as I am to make my way to Sydney. What else do I want to see in Canberra? Given the amount of time it takes to get to Sydney it makes a bit of sence to spend some time here before heading out since I will likely not arrive until later. The guys at the training had suggested that I visit Manly beach (more local) instead of Bondi beach (which is busier and more touristy) but this would be a close call…

Not a terribly early night after all was said and done. My last breakfast in the hotel (nothing really to note, basic cooked food - eggs, sausages, hash browns, bacon - and a few cereals on the side along with the ever-present orange “juice” that is really just from concentrate) and I packed up for my return drive to Sydney. I had determined I was going to visit the mint (remember, I am a coin collector) here in Canberra before heading up to Sydney via a slightly indirect route. I was thinking of taking a FAR more indirect route that would have taken me through the Blue Mountains but this would have meant a 10 hour drive…or more.

I headed over to the Royal Australian Mint which is located just beyond the capital building - The highway literally heads straight at the capital then curves around the left side (sort of a diversion around the building) with no decrease in speed limit. I was pleased to learn the other day that the Mint is free to visit…

Royal Australian Mint

The Mint is quite small compared to what I have seen in other countries (well, in Canada) but is quite interesting. I was just in time to catch a short guided tour of the public walkway that overlooks the coin production. This is a young Mint - Only 50 years old. They had a good exhibit of historical artefacts (and coins) as well. They had an interesting assortment of mis-pressings as well as things like “pieces of eight”.

They use robots here so of course one of the highlights was seeing a massive robot bolted to the floor as it picked up a barrel of coins and dump it into a hopper.

Robot Lifting Blanks for Dollar Coins

Coin Making Area - Several Robots

Another highlight for me was where they were hand-pressing the “proof” coins (there are three classes of coins: circulated - the coins you have in your pocket, un-circulated - coins that you can purchase that have never been in general circulation, and proof - coins that are “proof” of the imprint for collectors - obviously proof is the most expensive).

Making Proof Coins

In their shop I made my own dollar coin (put money into a machine to see it then stamp and spit out your newly minted coin) and picked up quite a few items…It was nice that the shop assistant was obviously a collector and she gave me a lot of information about what I was purchasing and about the facility. For example, the fiftieth anniversary set has a coin that has a honeycomb pattern on it that signifies “the worker bees”, the employees, that work in the mint.

Returning to the car park I buckled in for the trip to Sydney.

⇒ Continue to Canberra to Sydney