Australia’s Capital Treasures – Photowalk

The walk around Lake Burley Griffin in Canberra takes you past many of the best sights in the Capital and is great way to see and meet the locals. Allow yourself 2-3 hours to walk from Kings Ave bridge along the foreshore to Commonwealth Ave bridge and then back along the foreshore to Kings Ave (see map below).

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Australia’s Capital Treasures – Australian War Memorial

_MG_3801Each year on April 25th, thousands of Australians and New Zealanders head to the World War One battlefields of France, Belgium and most importantly Gallipoli (Turkey) to remember the sacrifice of our young soldiers during that horrific conflict. ANZAC Day is a poignant day of remembrance for all Aussies and Kiwis, the one day we step out of our self-indulgence to honour our past.

The Australian War Memorial (AWM) houses three great national treasures:

  1. Tomb of the Unknown Australian Soldier.
  2. Artifacts from all conflicts that Australians fought in.
  3. Historical records, both official and personal, of those conflicts.Roll of Honour

The entrance to the AWM leads you past the Roll of Honour where the names of those who fell during conflict are inscribed to the domed hall that protects the Unknown Soldier. It is a place to reflect and quietly remember. On the walls, small red flowers are placed next to names of the fallen. These are poppies that grow freely on the battlefields of Europe and are used to remember the blood and sacrifice of those who fought there.

The Collection galleries display the relics of Australian military action throughout the world from the Boer War to Afghanistan and Iraq. Kids tend to marvel at the technology, the Lancaster bomber (G for George) or the armoured vehicles but for me the most memorial items are more personal. The flying boot ripped open by a Viet Cong bullet that entered the floor of the pilot’s helicopter or a bayonet similar to ones used by the Light Horse to charge Beersheba. Visitors should also take time in the Hall of Valour to read the accounts of soldiers, sailors and airman awarded Australia’s highest honour, the Victoria Cross (each simply inscribed For Valour). Reading these accounts I am constantly amazed at what people will do to save their mates on the battlefield.

The Australian War Memorial is open daily from 10am to 5pm (except Christmas Day) and entry is free (Donations are requested to help maintain the exhibits). Plan to spend at least two hours to truly appreciate the collections and for first time visitors, the free guided tours are great starting point for your discovery of Australian military history. Photography is permitted but without flash or tripods.

Related Posts:

Travel Photographs-Australian War Memorial

Visiting the Somme Battlefields


Australia’s Capital Treasures – National Gallery of Australia

National Gallery of AustraliaProbably the most controversial art purchase by any Australian Federal Government occurred in 1974 when the Whitlam Government bought Jackson Pollock’s Number 11, 1952. Known to Australians as Blue Poles, the painting is an abstract masterpiece to the art world but as one wag said, ‘It looks like the painters drop cloth.’ Originally hung in Parliament House, it languished in obscurity for many years until transferred to the National Gallery of Australia. Pollock’s paintings are frequently unnamed and unexplained by the artist, leaving us to interpret their meaning within our own experience. I have heard guides describe Blue Poles as bamboo or sail masts waving in a storm, and either could be right. For me, the mish mash of colour is pleasing to the eye but evokes little feeling or inspiration, perhaps I have no eye for this art form. Visitors to Canberra can judge for themselves, Blue Poles greets visitors as they enter the main galleries.

Throughout the gallery, you will find paintings and sculptures by Australia’s most celebrated artists, from the classic landscapes of Arthur Streeton to the modern brilliance of Brett Whiteley. A large collection of Sidney Nolan’s Ned Kelly series is displayed with the quotes that inspired each painting. These iconic images represent a special place in Australian art history and whether you love or hate Ned Kelly, his story is woven into the Australian consciousness. Nolan’s interpretation appears sympathetic to the bushranger but I think it shows the struggle between imperfect law enforcement and principled lawlessness. Neither side is perfect nor absolutely at fault, they both just stumbled through the events to their inevitable end.

Entry to the National Gallery is free except for some special exhibitions like the current ‘Turner to Monet: the triumph of landscape‘ exhibition. It also hosts regular free talks and lectures to enhance your appreciation of the art in the galleries. Bookings are essential, either by email or phone. Look at the National Gallery website for a list of future events. For locals, membership provides you with discounts, a quarterly magazine (artonview) and invitations to Members-only events, a reasonable return for your yearly $50 investment (families $60, discounts for concession holders).

Next in this series, we take a tour of the Australian War Memorial as Australians and New Zealanders prepare to remember the fallen on ANZAC Day.


Travel Photographs – National Museum of Australia

Ngurrara Land Claim Painting

Museum by the Lake

Bean Car, Record Breaker across Australia

FJ Holden at the National Museum of Australia


Australia’s Capital Treasures

National Museum of Australia

Thirty years ago, growing up in Australia meant a Holden in the garage, a Hills hoist clothesline out the back and Victor lawn mower in the shed. Australia’s unique past and character is encapsulated in the displays of the National Museum of Australia in Canberra.

Divided into four regions the National Museum celebrates the land, its indigenous peoples, the national identity and enduring icons. The history of the Aboriginal people honours their culture and traditions, and details their struggles with the European occupation. A massive painting (10×8 metres) details the land claim of the Ngurrara people, telling the stories of their travels through the land over the centuries. The painting formed the evidence provided to the courts and helped to win their land claim.

All the modern icons of Australian life are represented in the displays, an immaculate FJ Holden car, the Hills hoist and Victor lawn mower sit comfortably alongside the woomeras, spear points and possum cloak. If a visitor to Australia wanted to reflect on what makes us Australian, this museum makes a good mirror. Best of all, its free. Open daily (closed Christmas Day) from 9am to 5pm. Photography is permitted throughout the museum but no tripods or large bags are permitted inside, use the cloakroom rather than leaving valuables in the car (Free parking). Your visit starts in the Circa rotating theatre where you receive a brief orientation of the museum artifacts before starting your own exploration of Australian history.

This is the first article of new series, Australia’s Capital Treasures, that will focus on the museums and attractions of the Australian Capital, Canberra.