The long weekend in March had us heading to Canberra. Brad and I had never been and a colleague suggested that it would be a good place to check out as we can drive there relatively easily and an extended weekend would be enough time to see the city. The day before heading out, I went to War Horse with a colleague and her husband. A quick dinner and the musical was a nice opportunity to spend time with Anastasia and to met her hubby! It was a busy week of visits into the city with the Suzuki Market on Wednesday and War Horse on Thursday before hitting the road on Friday for the long weekend.
Canberra is uniquely laid out, planned as the capital city of Australia, and the weekend we visited happened to be its 100th birthday. We left after school on Friday and arrived to our hostel late so just went to bed then got up the next day and found out what people meant when they said what a quiet city Canberra is! Incidentally, all museums and public spaces celebrating Australia are free in Canberra - a good way to celebrate the spaces and get people to check them out!
Our first walk took us to the National Gallery which was really excellent, with a great collection of international, national and indigenous art. The series of paintings about Ned Kelly was a highlight for Hana as she has been learning about Ned Kelly in school. Ned Kelly was a bushwrangler who is either considered a hero or a dirty thief – dependant upon who you talk to! He was first in trouble with the law at age 14 and hanged at 26 for robbery and murder. His homemade armour is a well-known image and the series of paintings in the National Gallery documented Kelly’s rise to notoriety, trial and death.
After the National Gallery, we took a look through the National Portrait Gallery and headed to Canberra Glassworks and booked into a glass tile session the following day. After a very late lunch, we headed back to the hostel then headed to watch the Canberra Brumbies (rugby union) vs. Sydney Waratahs. Heading to the game, we were hoping to run into a couple on exchange from Red Deer. Sheila and Adam are living in Cooma for the year and are just over an hour out of Cooma. We had spoken earlier that day about getting together (deciding to go out to their place for our third night) and hopefully meeting up at the game, if we could find each other. As it turned out, Sheila and Adam were sitting IN FRONT OF US at the game so we had a good laugh and a bit of a visit during the game.
Sunday in Canberra brought us to the War Museum which was really well done and very interesting. Brad and Hana joined a tour while Eoin and I eased into it a bit. Eoin was pretty uneasy with all the war memorabilia but he and I were able to pick up with a kids’ program there and he began to find it interesting. We spent a couple of hours after that completing a scavenger hunt together and met back up with Hana and Brad to go through some of the exhibit together. The displays were about the basics of war – uniforms, items used in battle, food, etc. through to battle plans, fighter planes and a helicopter. The National War Museum is also home to sculptures and memorials of soldiers who represented Australia in peace keeping missions as well. To see and begin to understand the scope of war and conflict as discussed in the museum had a real impact on us.
After going to the War Museum, we headed to Cooma and arrived at Sheila and Adam’s place for dinner. We had a great feast and a fantastic visit. The kids were really happy to have a “foster” auntie and uncle to visit with here. We were sad to go the next morning – both the kids and I had tears. We find, while here, that those relationships that feel most like home are great to develop but also leave us feeling the most sad when we have to say goodbye and continue on our travels.