Although Sydney is the largest city in Australia, it is not the capitol. The capital of Australia is Canberra. I lost count of how many people I have explained this to... so for future reference, NO, Sydney is NOT the capitol!
This weekend, my study abroad group went to Canberra. We had to be at school bright and early on Friday morning (6 a.m. if you were wondering). All 37 of us loaded into a van and we were off to a weekend of learning and fun. Little did I know how amazing it would be! (YES, I am a nerd!)
When we arrived in Canberra, we had a day full ahead of us. Friday was spent at Embassies. First, we went to the Indonesian Embassy and learned about their relations to Australia. Indonesia is considered to be Australia's greatest threat, although Australia is very peaceful and really does not fear being attacked. The motto of Indonesia is "Millions of friends- zero enemies". HAHA ! I thought it was super cute and maybe not actually true, but what do I know. The New Zealand High Commission was our next stop. I was blown away by the honesty presented by the New Zealand politician. I thought the man speaking was lying or at least sugar coating everything he was saying, but I asked one of our leaders from New Zealand and she said it is true. New Zealanders will not tolerate a politician who lies. New Zealand upholds what it stands for even if their stance hurts the country economically. Our last stop was at the Aboriginal Australian Embassy. Yes, you did read it correctly, but it is not what you are imagining. The Aboriginal Embassy is actually a protest. A group of Aboriginals camp outside the capital trying to get rights to the land taken from them- or even compensation for their hardships.
If you do not know the history of Australia, Aboriginal people were treated in horrible ways by the Europeans who arrived in the 1700s. Even up to the 1960s, Aboriginal children were ripped from their mothers and given to white families. It was not until Kevin Rudd became Prime Minister that Aboriginals got a public apology for their treatment, but the Aboriginal people are still suffering today.
You might notice that we did not go to the AMERICAN EMBASSY. This is simply because we were not allowed to go. First, it was because President Obama was coming, but then he postponed his trip. Our own embassy denied us access to the grounds! In the words of Stephanie Tanner, "how rude!"
Friday night, I went out for coffee with some friends, but we were unsuccessful. The entire town closes down at 10 P.M. EVEN THE COFFEE SHOPS! The capitol of Australia does not have coffee after 10 at night! CRAZY!
Saturday we went to museums and art galleries. I fell in love with an Australian painter: Arthur Boyd. I encourage you to look him up! His work is fascinating and left me with so many questions. We went to the second largest war memorial in the world. (The first is in Britain.) Did you know that there were 11 Australians in the world trade center on 9/11? Or that during the first battle of WWI, the American soldiers were technically under an Australian general? OR that every war America has fought in, Australia has too!?! Yes, Australia is our most faithful friend! The weekend was so packed, I cannot even begin to explain everything I learned, but hopefully my blog has given you a taste of Canberra! For anyone who enjoys history and art, it is a fabulous place to visit!