Who says there’s nothing to do in Canberra? Surrounded by mountains, lakes and gardens, Australia’s official capital (yes, it’s not Sydney or Melbourne) has more to offer than you expect especially if you’re the nature seeker type.
As PhD students, we don’t have academic breaks (except for a 1-month leave annually), and we work even during holidays if our research demands it. Naturally, I look forward to weekends, like most people, but in a more eager way. It’s my “me-time” and for 2 days I can forget about my research without feeling guilty.
So one Saturday last October, my friend Neli, also a PhD student, and I decided to hike Black Mountain. I’ve been meaning to conquer this one after hiking Mount Ainslie last March (woah! 7 months!). These two mountains face each other and guard the valley where our campus and the city center are. I can also see the Black Mountain and its famous Telstra Tower whenever I go to the back of my dormitory. It’s been calling me since I arrived last year and I blame my random mood of laziness and work for making it wait.
From our campus, we walked to the Australian National Botanic Gardens where the trail up to the mountain starts. It’s really easy as there were signs and you can also get a map from the Visitor Centre of the Gardens before you start the hike. Last year, I visited the Gardens and you can read about it in this post.
I took a lot of photos of flowers on the way. The Gardens showcase various flora common in Australia. Here are some:
There were signs leading up to the mountain. The trail was good but since I’m not the athletic type, it was a little bit tiring for the last few metres. We stopped a couple of times and watched the birds using Neli’s binoculars.
After about an hour and a half, we reached the top! We entered the Telstra tower and in its Visitor Centre, we watched a few minutes of documentaries of how the tower was built.
The entrance fee to go to the top is AU$7.50. We took the elevator, had a light snack at their lovely cafe (they also have a small souvenir shop) and of course admired the panoramic views of Canberra.
After spending an hour on top of the tower, we retraced the path going down to the Gardens. Along the way, we saw stones stacked on top of each other. We were so intrigued that we made one ourselves.
Back in the Gardens, we passed by the new area they are developing to recreate the landscape of the Red Centre in Australia. I have a series of posts about it when we visited Uluru last September and you can read about them in this link.
And finally, Neli met another friend when we were about to exit the Gardens.
So that’s it. Don’t believe that Canberra has nothing to offer. You just have to be more open-minded, just like Canberra–it is welcoming to anyone who wants to enjoy its surroundings. It may not be a typical capital city but/because it provides unique experiences. If you plan to visit this lovely city, don’t hesitate, hike the mountains, kayak on the lake, or go for bushwalking and you may meet unusual friends like the one in the photo above.
‘Til my next weekend adventures in Canberra!