Monday, March 12, 2007

Australian Vacation: Getting to know the capital

Today I took an overview tour of Canberra, the capital of Australia. The city was planned by Walter Burley Griffin, who was a student of Frank Lloyd Wright. The tour guide claimed that Walter was inspired by Washington, DC, and I believe it. As the photo above shows, there's a road which connects the War Memorial to the parliament house which has the same basic feel as the reflecting pool.

Speaking of the War Memorial, I should mention that it's a fantastic site to see. When I hear war memorial, I think about the Vietnam Wall in DC and the like. Touching stuff, but not something you can spend a whole lot of time at without getting it. When they say war memorial here, they mean a museum filled with World War I and World War II artifacts and lots of stories. It's remarkable stuff.

I can see why the tour guide claimed "it's the most popular museum in Australia, full stop."

The tour also took me to parliament house, where I got a tour of the House and Senate (terms and a concept they borrowed directly from our system, thank you very much). The big take away here was that Australians are required to vote. There's like a $70 fine for not voting. As a result, they get like 96% voter turnout at their elections.

Can you imagine if we made voting mandatory in the US? No doubt people would be protesting for their right to not vote.

I snapped this photo of past prime minister Sir John Gorton, as he's dressed pretty much the way I'd imagined an Aussie PM would dress. Kinda business casual for the job.

Tomorrow I hope to go back to some of the sites I saw today for a bit more detail.

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