Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Fireworks & Dinosaurs in Canberra

With an open weekend ahead of us and lovely Australian Autumn weather (24 degrees!), we decided to take a road trip to the Nation's capital - Canberra ("Can-bruh!"). 
It's referred to as the "bush capital."

On top of the Parliament House

After plotting the route with Google Maps, we headed out using the "back way" to Canberra from our place (about 2 hours 40 min drive total). It was lots of twists and turns and even took us over some bridges with flood level markers (which become impasssible during heavy rains/floods) and cut between 2 large national parks.

Our first stop was to the National Dinosaur Museum to check out the fossils, exhibits and impressive crystals/rocks displays.

National Dinosaur Museum

A creative front entrance

Picnic lunch overlooking the dinos

Liam and Bryce getting swallowed up!


Chy and the boys on the way in

Beautiful geode displays

Bryce and Liam "hatching" like baby dinos!

Australia has some very impressive geological history

Liam was absorbing all the exhibits! 

Bryce measuring up against a dino print 

Great explanations about dinosaur history and evolution 

Liam and Bryce were completing the "Fossil Hunt" activity (and were awarded a prize at the end!)

Alligator Quartz (from Brazil - Sale Price $10 000) 

The whole bottom section of the museum was filled with objects for sale. 
So, if you're ever looking for some ancient rock samples or fossilized remains...this is the place!

Liam choosing his souvenir fossils 

The matching "pair" on the right were only $50 000! 

Our next stop was a short drive to the National Arboretum (ar-bor-ee-tum) - as we found out that there was a really cool kid's playground there (and after a long drive the boys needed to burn off some energy!)

The smoke in the background is a planned burn to control the dry areas of vegetation and help prevent catastrophic bushfires during dry periods.

The location of this place gave impressive lookout views of the city center of Canberra and the surrounding mountains.

The arboretum is only a few years old - so most of the trees are still quite small. It will be really impressive went they reach full size, though!

Parliament House in the background

Black Mountain Tower in the background 

Magpie taking in the view

Into the Pod Playground we go!

Very impressive 

Liam and Bryce represented "Canada" well with their choice of clothes for the weekend! We were at this playground at the same time as a family from Alberta and another from B.C. (quite a concentration of Canadians at one time!)

 The boys loved the playground - it was well worth the $3 for parking!  

After the playground stop, we headed up the mountain road towards the Black Mountain Lookout (and the Tower). We decided not to pay the money to go up the tower - figuring that we could see the impressive views from the car park or somewhere nearby. Strangely, most of the views were blocked by cleverly grown trees - so we only caught some glimpses from the road. 

Black Mountain Lookout Tower 

A beast!

 Roadside view of the city center

We made our way to the hotel and were reminded of how important water conservation is in Australia. 

We are very lucky in Canada, for sure, and shouldn't take 
our access to so much fresh water for granted. 

We went out for dinner at Jamie [Oliver's] Italian Restaurant. The kids' menus for seen by using a retro viewfinder (which Bryce and Liam loved) with pictures of the menu choices. 

The kids also got a "Shake it Up" salad in a container and were awarded buttons when they finished all the salad with their meal (a great idea!)

 It's handy that Liam can work the Iphone camera now - parent pic!

Soaking in the Canberra sunshine for dinner

So, this is where our trip takes an unexpected (and lucky!) turn. We just happened to come to Canberra during the SkyFire event. This is a huge free concert and fireworks show in the City Center on the very night that we were staying. We decided it was a "must do" - so on we walked to find a great place on the water to view the fireworks show.

 Interesting statues
Kids played with the rocks at our viewing spot. It was a perfect place to see them over the water. 

Very cute...brothers!

They likely had up to 100,000 people come out for the show and it was a good one!

Congrats to our kids for being able to manage the almost-5 km walk back from the 
fireworks (around 9:30) and stay awake. Troopers!

After a well-deseved sleep-in, we had a nice pancake breakfast (equipped with Cdn. maple syrup) and drove to the National Museum of Australia. 

One of the best things about Canberra has to be the 'free admission' to most of the museums and galleries!

"Circa" was a revolving theatre that told us the history of Australia in 4 parts (like the one at Disney).


The ancient mega-wombat was a favourite! Would not want to meet that in an open field! 

Here's one for you Uncle Jay and Aunt Heather (Rutledge) Might have history here?!?

Finally...leg's about time, boys! 

I think mom was all too happy to help out here:) 

Love this picture!

Amazing Aboriginal exhibits and rich history

The outdoor "map" exhibit

With a picnic lunch still packed, we pushed on to do one more stop...Parliament House!

Maxin' and relaxin'

Easy to walk around and explore

Beautiful marble architecture 

The Great Hall

Some of these objects are from the 1700s - wow! 

House of Representatives 

 Part of a military "art" display

 An amazing view from the rooftop of Parliament House. Wow!
A planned-city is such a unique thing to experience.

The flag from the top of Parliament House

It was a very interesting weekend - but we already know that it was only our first trip to Canberra. We'll have to return with so many other things to check out....the Questacon Science Centre, Railway Museum, National War Museum, Old Parliament House...the list goes on! And with it under 3 hours from our place, it is do-able for a weekend getaway. 

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