I went to Australia slightly reluctantly, specifically to see relations who were flatteringly keen to have me visit. The majority of them I had never met, although I had heard of them all my life. I was also going to see the places my parents had often spoken of, places in which they had met, loved and married – and where my life began.
I had no desire to attempt to do Australia in four weeks. All of my Australian family live in Victoria, in and around Melbourne and Geelong, and my plans were centred there. I loved everything about being in Victoria: the cities, the gold mine towns, Great Ocean Road, my family. However, I felt that I should do something on my own in a different state.
And I chose Canberra. Why? Well, I’m not a great outdoors girl. I’m much happier soaking in history and culture than sunshine and Canberra has the National everything. And, if I’m being honest, I wanted to go to Canberra because nobody does. Even the Australians I met thought it was an odd choice.
But, from the minute I landed, I was fascinated. I knew all about its history, how it had been carved out of stations in New South Wales and meticulously planned and designed. And it was that that enthralled me. Friends of friends (of friends, in some cases) appeared from nowhere and showed me snapshots of the city but it was this view I was given on my first day there that became my abiding memory of Canberra.
It is taken from Mount Ainslie where my new friends drove me so that I could see the city from above. It was like having the plan come to life in front of my eyes and I could have stayed there all day drinking it in. The picture shows Anzac Parade, the road leading up to the National War Memorial, and then zooms out across Lake Burley Griffin to Old Parliament House and New Parliament House. Over the few days I was there I spent a lot of time looking at this view from one side or the other and, for me, it sums up Canberra: an entirely planned city somehow holding the surrounding countryside at bay.

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