When the opportunity came for us to promote some of our Self Reliance principles at the Young Single Adult Conference in Canberra, we were excited to say YES!
Canberra is about a three hour drive south and inland from Sydney. It’s CANburra, not CanBERuh, as we were prone to say for months, and it is the Washington, DC of Australia. Canberra’s origin is quite different, however.
As most everybody knows, Australia was initially a penal colony, but once the word got out about its beauty and natural resources, over the next century thousands of people emigrated. Eventually, there was a big rivalry between its two largest cities, Sydney which was settled first, and Melbourne which was once the world’s richest city. In 1908, the Aussies decided to strike a compromise and build a new planned city.
As such, Canberra has an entirely different feeling. Here in Sydney, there is not a straight road to be found because all the streets follow old paths around the hills. From the one time we were there, Melbourne seemed somewhat more organized than Sydney, but Canberra would have made Brigham Young proud. Canberra streets are wide and sweeping, and the highest building we saw was about 6-8 stories high.
The government buildings are beautiful, clean and mostly modern architecture. Most building was done after WWII, though because of all the trauma suffered by Australia in the two world wars
The YSA conference was held at the Australian Institute of sports AIS which is the place where Australia trains its Olympic athletes. All the athletes had gone home for the holidays, so we stayed in their flats, ate at their wonderful cafeteria and played and met in their superb fields and buildings.
We did have a little time to see Canberra as part of the activities. Many of the sites, museums and public buildings were in one long stretching area which makes it great for touring and even greater for trying to move hundreds of kids around at a YSA Convention.
The Old Parliament House was the original seat of the Senate and the House which are quite like the American houses of government. In 1988, they finally completed the New Parliament House which is very modern. Many of the newscasters stand in front of it when they broadcast news stories. There was much of that broadcasting going on in September, when one day we woke up and found that without the trauma of a long election period, Australia had a new prime minister. The prior prime minster, Tony Abbot had lost support of the elected ministers and all of a sudden Matthew Turnbull’s supporters had elected him. It is a little strange because the more conservative major party is called the Liberal Party and the less conservative major party is called the Labor Party. The Aussies follow the Brits in many of their election practices. In Canberra, they also have what they call “shadow ministers” which consists of leaders in the party that is out at the moment. For example, the Labor Party opposition leader has a place to sit in the
Parliament even though he does not have a vote.
This is quite interesting and curious to us. We do watch the news every day. There is not much said from Canberra that does not have an opposition party official also stating their position.