Global travel. On local public transportation.

Canberra: Flowers try to bring life to deserted city

November 4, 2010 Markus Seppälä

Canberra: Flowers try to bring life to deserted city

There are only two reasons to go to Canberra, the capital city of Australia. Government business is one. Floriade, the annual month-long flower festival, is the other. Hoping for anything else is asking for disappointment, they told me. Were they right?

My first flower festival exceeds expectations

I’ll admit it freely, the reason I decided to head for Canberra was Floriade 2010. Though I’m not a flower fan in particular, I heard great things from people in Sydney. Floriade is free of charge for the public and runs annually from mid-September to mid-October. The flowers are obviously the highlight, but they mix in events and educational displays and activities in many related fields (no pun intended) such as irrigation, bonsai trees and climatology. Throw in simple eats and fancier dining halls, amusement park rides and a market, and you’ve got something for everybody.

Canberra, the planned city

But there’s also no denying it: Canberra, during the weekends, is dead, as all the government workers only come back on Monday morning. And the fact that “the most important regular event for tourism in the Australian Capital Territory” is in full swing clearly does not change this. And I loved every minute of it. You see, after a stressful week in Sydney, wandering the deserted streets of this polished, modern city was exactly what I needed. There’s lots of open green space, there’s a huge lake, and there’s peace and quiet.

None of this is by accident, though, as Canberra is a planned city. When Australia needed a capital city and couldn’t pick either Sydney or Melbourne, they decided to build a new one right between the two metropolises. The Australian Capital Territory and the city of Canberra were born. And they did a good job of designing something beautiful.

Getting around town

What’s a good way of cruising the broad avenues and good-looking highway intersections in Canberra? Your only public option is the local bus by ACTION. At AUD 4.00 for a one-way cash fare from the train station to the city center it’s a little on the pricey side. The weekend schedules are also significantly limited. But the green-and-white busses are new and comfortable.

Classy color scheme at the Diamant

I had my best hotel experience in Australia at the Diamant Hotel Canberra. Have a look at my review on TripAdvisor. The only thing I’d add to that review is that there was a great pie shop just down the street. In Australia, that of course means meat pies.

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