Wednesday, January 05, 2005

On the road again

Lake Burley-Griffin, Canberra

Although the whole living and working in Sydney thing is my main focus, let's not forget that I'm also here to see a bit of the world outside the harbour city. So with that in mind I've come on a three hour bus trip to the nation's capital, Canberra. I'll be here for three days exploring and generally mooching about, trying to discover just why most Australians look on it with disdain. How does it compare to Sydney? Well, maybe I can already answer that.

The first impression you get on Canberra is the space - for a start it's surrounded by mountains, and the regimented street design makes it seem like a city in North America. With good reason as it turns out, the city plan was chosen from a design submitted by an American, Walter Burley Griffin - who also designed Washington DC. There are plenty of long, straight roads with trees down the sides and a central strip of bushes. In fact, this seems to be what 90% of Canberra looks like - the other 10% is a lake...called, incidentally, Lake Burley Griffin.

But it's a nice place, it's cleaner and quieter than Sydney - you walk around the city centre and wonder where all the people are. My arrival co-incided with a custom car rally - who decided the long, wide, straight roads would make Canberra the perfect location for hundreds of souped-up cars? Not the police, I wouldn't have thought. The car owners were loving it though. Even as I write this I can here revved-engines piling down the street outside. Max power!!