We weren’t sure about stopping off in Canberra but are glad that we did, not least for the two nights in a large hotel room and no driving!

Canberra is much maligned but we loved it with lots of art & culture. First stop was the National Gallery of Australia www.nga.gov.au and what a treat. The collections cover Australian art, Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander art, Asian art and European and American art. Familiar to us were pieces by artists such as Picasso, Miro, Kandinsky, Monet, Bacon and Pollock, then there was much more by artists we’d never heard of; Sidney Nolan and his vibrant paintings, which take you through the main events of the Ned Kelly story; interesting Asian art with sculptures and textiles.

Next stop ~ National Portrait Gallery www.portrait.gov.au which houses a collection of portraits covering a range of media ~ paintings , sculptures, prints, drawings and photographs of prominent Australians; we are ashamed to say that we didn’t recognise any of them! Even so we were able to appreciate the skill and talents of the creators.

There’s no stopping us now as we galloped onto the ~ National Library of Australia www.nla.gov.au What’s our obsession with libraries you  might ask…. well this one like the one in Melbourne is so much more than just a library. This was taken over by the Mapping our World Exhibition:

Highlights of the exhibition include the magnificent Fra Mauro Map of the World; the remarkable Boke of Idrography presented to Henry VIII; an intricate world map by the Benedictine monk Andreas Walsperger (1448); a fifteenth-century Ptolemy manuscript; magnificent and controversial ‘Dieppe’ charts; one of only four surviving copies of Mercator’s groundbreaking 1569 projection, and original manuscript charts by Pacific navigators including Louis de Freycinet, James Cook and Matthew Flinders.

[http://www.nla.gov.au/exhibitions/mapping-our-world]

Ending up in ~ Parliament House www.aph.gov.au Our fist thoughts on walking towards Parliament House was the lack of obvious security; no walls / fences, no armed guards and getting through security was like a walk in the park compared to the fiasco at Heathrow. Inside we were able to wander around the public areas, view the art collections (not sure why the Japanese tourists were queuing up to have their photos taken alongside a portrait of the Queen!) and just soak up the general atmosphere of the place. Unfortunately, we were a week too early to watch Parliament in action.

And finally….

We saw only a hand full of tourists throughout the day and everything was free including the parking!