Nice country, shame about the capital. For those of you who don’t know about the politics of Australian Federalisation (and why should you), when neither Sydney nor Melbourne could decide who should be the newly formed country’s capital, they just invented a new city roughly half way between them. And like all good compromises this one has left everyone disappointed, including me. My Canberra experience consisted mainly of trudging along busy motorways, through identikit modern office blocks, before arriving at frankly underwhelming ‘attractions’. The town is centred around Parliament House, basically a building in a hill with a big flag at the top. Inside it’s as soulless as a politician, but there is brief amusement in the portraits of all Australia’s Prime Ministers, shifty looking galahs, to a man. Other features were a big water spout, a national gallery that was less impressive than the art gallery in Ballarat, and a newly installed Australian museum, dedicated entirely to saying how great Australians are, especially Aboriginals (a view sadly not shared by most of the population). The town itself was similarly underwhelming, possessing nothing identifiable as a nightlife. It doesn’t even have a McDonalds, for Howard’s Sake! I may be being a bit hard on the place, as the crippling bushfires raging at the time meant the sweeping vistas that seemed to be the basis of the town planning were reduced to hazy shimmers. However, Australia is a country hardly lacking in magnificent views naturally, so building your own, which are never really going to compete, seems a bit redundant. My advice? Just pretend Sydney and/or Melbourne are the capital, and repeat after me ‘There’s no such place as Canberra, there’s no such place as Canberra.’
...not much, having personally decided to pass on the delights of Canberra. Merely wanted to mention that my brother's comments above should not be taken as in any way intended to slight the Ballarat Fine Art Gallery, which in fact has a commendably varied, distinguished and well-tended collection. Which is all the more impressive for being located in a bone-dry one-horse mentalist shitkicker town in the arse end of Victoria.
Ballarat Fine Art Gallery: 8/10