A cobbler in the heart of town
Favorite thing: Right in the heart of town...in the Canberra Mall there is an old fashioned cobbler..one who in earlier days actually made shoes himself. He has been a cobbler since 1954 and many years ago he left Greece, came to Australia and settled in Canberra.
While we were waiting for a bit of a repair job we surprised how busy he was...fixing handbags, and RM William shoes among other things. The locals seemed to all know him and we were very impressed with his workmanship and knowledge.
We were able to compare his prices as we sat there and chatted and he seemed very fair.
He is close to the Crowne Plaza hotel and the Casino.....so if you need new 'heels' well you are lucky.Related to:
- Family Travel
- Road Trip
POSTING MAIL FROM CANBERRA
Favorite thing: Do you have a stamp collecter in the family? If so, you may like to post you postcard back home from somewhere unique!
Located in the Telecom Tower, on Black Mountain, is Canberra's highest POST BOX.
It is an old one, and is cleared at 10am each day, Monday to Friday.
The envelope is postmarked with "Telecom Tower'
Where is the Soul?
Favorite thing: Discussions about love and hate in Canberra ;-)
I had an interesting discussion with George (VT member tiabunna) who did not like me calling Canberra a boring place.
Probably the way I use the word "boring" sometimes does not always make a hundred per cent clear what I mean, and sometimes leads people who read it to the conclusion Canberra would be a city with no interesting places of interest...
This is not what I mean with "boring".
Of course, a city with such delights as all those fantastic museums, the lake, and this great hinterland cannot be really boring to the bone. Boring for me was the lack of atmosphere in the city centre. Apart from this little square where you could sit outside for dinner there was nothing to observe. You know, watching people, gossiping about them, street musicians, little markets, the feeling of easy living.
There is a big discrepancy between locals and visitors appreciating a place. Whereas locals love the quiet life and the wide spaces, visitors want to feel something and not just hurry from museum to museum. And this feeling has nothing to do with nightlife, parties etc. Just get a feeling for how people live and act in a certain place.
If I compare Canberra to Christchurch (New Zealand) which has about the same size and is also a very widespread city... I live outside, in lazy Lyttelton, and often I go to the city centre, take a seat on a bench on Cathedral Square, and just watch people passing, or sit in the Rose Garden of the Botanic Garden, read a book and relax, and watch people and birds. I would not know where to do this in Canberra.
A problem in Canberra might be that the distances between visitor attractions are rather large, and you do not just stroll from A to B but drive. This already takes "life" from the streets.
If I lived there I would appreciate the calm and the space - but I think there are other places that have both.
George also mentioned that some of the buildings which I found horrible were award-winning architecture.
I know, this is a global problem. And of course, the juries always consist of other architects who justify their own horrors by awarding colleagues who have committed similar crimes ;-) I mistook one of those buildings for a parking building... It is a pity that most of Canberra was built in the same wrong era. (BTW Also Christchurch has some few such concrete blocks but there they were built this way because of the lack of money, not because it was the architectural fashion of the day.)
Favorite thing: The mascot of the ACT team is the Brumby, which is a feral horse that roams across the whole of Australia. There seem to be two conflicting reports on where the name originated from, one being from the Aboriginal name for wild "barooomby", and the other for Sergeant James Brumby, who led all his horses run free after he moved to Tasmania from New South Wales.
However the name came into place, ACT has had its share of famous Brumbies. It is the name of their rugby club, but the territory is also very close to Snowy River, where the famous Australian movie "The Man from Snowy River" was filmed.
All in all, whether you see a Brumby mascot or a couple wild horses, now you know the story of the Brumby.Related to:
- Road Trip
Who has made all those incomplete Brochures?
Favorite thing: Moan and complain about the lack of travel guides ;-)
I have really tried hard to find a travel guide for Canberra. I already started searching back home in New Zealand, but I gave up after a while. Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth... But no book about Australia's capital which - as I know now - has a lot of things to see and do.
I thought, ok, it might not be so popular outside the Australian borders. So I kept on searching in Melbourne where I spent a week before my flight to Canberra. The result was the same.
And you know the rest of the story if you have read my intro. No travel guide about Canberra in Canberra.
So I heavily relied on brochures, and thanks to my status as a journalist I got a lot of good information sheets and more brochures from the media people of the tourist board and the public affairs officers of some attractions like the National Museum. I grabbed brochures everywhere I went until I had a collection of two kilos. The amazing thing was that you got different brochures everywhere, and always found out about new things. And I love brochures because you can take them with you. It does not help to check everything on the internet and then leave. You need it printed to read it when you are on site.
Fondest memory: ---
But who has composed all those brochures?
The "See & Explore your National Capital" folder lists Historic Blundell's Cottage, Anzac Parade, the National Carillion, the National Capital Exhibition, the Old Parliament House Gardens including Magna Carta Place, Commonwealth and Reconciliation Places.
"See Yourself in Canberra" just names some attractions without any hint where they are located, and even gives some ideas about the things to do in the wider region. But everything without maps, directions or addresses. This is not really helpful, given the lack of travel guides.
Probably the best list is in the "National Capital Attractions" booklet. It gives addresses, contacts and websites, so you can work through that.
And finally I have also found a nice booklet in A-4 format about the natural wonders of Canberra, including outdoor recreation in parks, forests and bushlands, as well as heritage and aboriginal sites. The title is "Get out there!" The annoying thing about it is that they list Visitor Centres with internet but no physical addresses - in a printed booklet! Strange world!
Some of the internet sites I have listed in one of my other tips are really good.
Here are some more:
Everywhere You Go always Take the Weather with You
Favorite thing: Talk about the Craziness of the Weather
As Canberra is located amidst mountains, forests and valleys, at an altitude of 571 metres above sea level, it experiences four seasons. Sometimes all four within some days. When I was there in late November/start of December I had steaming hot and ice-cold days, brillant sunshine and days with never-ending rain. Once, while exploring the Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve with a colleague, we thought, oh, the sky looked rather dark over Canberra - only to find out that there had been horrible thunderstorms and floodings during the day, trees had been uprooted, branches and debris littered the streets.
A normal summer (but where in the world is the weather still normal?) lasts from December to February and often brings temperatures over 40°C; bushfires are possible. Winter (June to September) is rather cold. The average temperature is about 12°C, with frost during the night.
Whereas snowfalls are common in the mountains around Canberra, in the city itself this happens very rarely.
They offer day-trips to the ski fields of New South Wales from Canberra, to the Snowy Mountains (Thredbo, Perisher Blue/Kosciusko National Park, for about AU$ 130 all inclusive). Mostly alpine skiing but also cross-country options.
Statue of King George V
Favorite thing: I was expecting to find a lot of elegant statues and monuments in Canberra......but this was the only one I came across.
Most architecture I came across I could only describe as 'ugly' and 'grey stone' and even most of the people live in townhouses and apartments, rather than real houses.
Just further reinforced my idea that Canberra is an odd city.
Fondest memory: This statue was in the park opposite the old Parliament House, making the Aboriginal Tent Embassy beside it look even more incongruous against the formality of the rest of the precinct.Related to:
- Historical Travel
Sex shops & fireworks shops
Favorite thing: This was one of the more unusual sights for us, though we knew there would be quite a lot of sex shops around the place, out in the open (Canberra's reputation having preceeded it).
I don't think it's that Canberra's shops are more explicit for this, just that some of their laws are more 'lax' than the rest of Australia and the shops are scattered around freely.
Up until a few months ago, it was the same with fireworks shops - they were scattered about freely too, Canberra being the only state in Australia where it was still legal to buy fireworks.
Now the law has been tightened even here, and fireworks are now only for sale if you're a resident of the city, and even then, only for one week each June.Related to:
- Budget Travel
The Best Tourist Info Centre
Favorite thing: I'll travel between Sydney & Canberra fairly regularly for work. Sometimes I'll fly, sometimes I'll drive.
If you drive from Sydney to Canberra, allow 3hrs for a comfortable trip that includes a break.
Upon entering Canberra, you will notice the "Welcome to Canberra" sign on Northbourne Avenue. This avenue is very big and very long and pretty much takes you from one side of Canberra to the other.
The signage in Canberra is fabulous, you can't miss the major sights. But one you absolutely cannot miss and should not miss, is the Tourist Info Centre. It has a wealth of information and consultants to offer brochures and advice on Canberra and it's surrounds, including the very lovely Kozsciosko National Park. You can, of course, also get maps of Canberra. I consider that part, at least, essential.Related to:
- Adventure Travel
- Hiking and Walking
- Arts and Culture
Aboriginal Tent embassy (2)
Favorite thing: Here you see a closer view of the Aboriginal camp, with its tents, humpies and campfire, making its statement opposite the old Parliament House.Related to:
- Budget Travel
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