Monday, August 08, 2011

Travelogue: Australia – Canberra

One thing that I did learn this weekend is the reason that this city seems so spread-out; it was planned that way!

The city, according to the historical museum that I visited was planned on a straight line between the two mountains one to the north, one to the south of the city. It is centered on the capital (which, I am sorry, to me looks like one of those Southern Baptist Mega-Church arena things you see all over the south of the US – replace the Australian flag with a cross and the allusion would be complete) which sits at the northern apex of an equilateral triangle. The City center sits at the western apex and the war memorial at its eastern apex.

The city is comprised of large concentric circles which radiate out, mainly from the capital, but also from the other two apexes of the triangle. It is really a very elegant plan in conception! Too bad it was never fully executed. You see, the city was planned for a maximum of 50,000 people and is well beyond that now. Why anyone would have needed all this room for that few people is beyond me, but there it is.

You can still see the origin of the plan in the current city, but it is muddled with new roads that were never part of the plan and the consistency of the shapes and sizes of the buildings has been abandoned in preference for modern (read that ugly) architecture from the years when the city had its largest growth spurts.

But the effect is more one of putting the visitor in mind of a retro science fiction city of the future (a bit like visiting Tomorrowland at Disney) than one would expect for a major national capital. I have decided that no matter what I have heard, I like Canberra!

Wherever you are, I hope you like your surroundings and that your week starts off well!

Don Bergquist – 08 August 2011 – Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia

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