After leaving the caring comfort of our new Aussie friends, we were on our own, driving the sparsely populated highways of NSW on our way to the national capital. Canberra is a funny little place, built throughout the first three decades of the 20th century with burgeoning national pride as the shiny new seat of government. The city is huge in land area but few in folk. Its population density makes Ottawa feel like a teeming metropolis. Our capital has something like 320 people/km2 whereas Canberra has 160 people/km2! Like the rest of the country, this place is roomy. The wide boulevards and idyllic human fashioned reservoirs and waterways make the city appear much more like a giant park than a sombre national capital. This was readily apparent after we wove our way up the summit of Black Mountain, the big hill abutting the capital. Sitting atop of the wee mount is the quirky looking Telstra telecommunications tower. It looks like a structure that people got tired of building about halfway through so they just said “Crikey, sure is hard yakka building atop this hill, might as well pack it in and fetch a pony” (look it up…Aussie slang requires some effort). When stacked on the 250m high hill though, the stubby tower is the tallest thing in the capital territory and it offers a terrific view of the city; really the only place that proper appreciation of the size of the capital is possible.
We ended our visit with a fantastic day spent entirely at the Questacon, the National Science and Technology Museum, where we took advantage of the Scientists on hand to squeeze in as much STEM time as we could get. They did an amazing job of making science and math fun, and the kids were reluctant to leave. It made us realize how much we missed the Toronto Science Centre, our home away from home during the winter.