The goal: to send 500 humans to Canberra to experience the best of what our Capital has to offer. Yes, you did read that right; Five-hundred humans across two different weekends are being sent to the A.C.T. for a weekend to take part in one of four tracks – Adventure, Culture, Family Fun, or Food & Wine and create their own opinion of our often forgot about capital.
It’s about 500 real humans giving real opinions, sharing real stories, and having real experiences.
In the coming weeks, myself and the other humans will share their human brochure – what’s hot and what’s not – through social media and the Human Brochure website. But until then here’s a snapshot of what happened on the culture track as seen by me through Instagram.
With a giant orange sign, I couldn’t miss Jenny, a greeter waiting for us at Canberra Airport. Only four of us was on the last flight into Canberra from Melbourne, including the gorgeous Amy and Kieron from Don’t Ever Look Back.
Being dropped at three separate hotels we had a quick turn around before heading to our first Human Brochure activity – drinks and canapes whilst at the National War Memorial and Museum.
I was lucky to be staying near the National War Memorial and the VIP Adventure group were the first ones at the site, which allowed me time to quietly reflect on all those Australians diggers who have died at war. So many walls adorning the walls, with red poppies filling almost every crack.
It was an amazing sight as the sun set and the official presentations began to welcome us to Canberra and talk about the project that we were going to be part of.
(Clockwise: Staircase and art poster, bed and reading lamp, roof covering)
I only had a few minutes to check out my digs for the weekend when checking in, and I was impressed by the chic Hotel Diamant, an 80-room boutique hotel inspired by ‘art’.
With a simple colour scheme of black & white, the palette was open for injections of colours – red chairs, purple couches, pearl coloured tiles than danced with rainbows whilst showering – it was gorgeous.
(Clockwise from top: pillow on bed with a ‘sweet dreams’ bag; pearl tiles in the shower; sign welcoming the Humans and reception; reception and waiting area.)
We were not sure if it was going to happen. On the way home from the dinner at the National War Museum we were told that the wind was proving to be a problem and that we may get to enjoy a sleep-in instead of suffering a 4:15am wake-up call.
Fortunately, or unfortunately depending on how you look at it, the call came and by 8am I was bundled in the basket of a hot air balloon with 15 other people to see Canberra from a different view.
Taking off from outside of Questacon, we floated over Lake Burley Griffin with a view over Parliament House. From there, we headed over Canberra Stadium and the AIS, before landing in Canberra University’s field.
(Clockwise from top: balloon inflating; sunrise over the tree tops; Canberra Stadium; Australia’s Parliament House from up high)
(Clockwise from top: Sign outside National Museum of Australia; digital footprints; emu made from wire)
A quick shower and a sneaky coffee later, we’d rejoined the group at the National Museum of Australia to see first-hand how items were restored or preserved, and some of the galleries most popular exhibits – including a vast Aboriginal culture and Australian history section.
My favourite piece had to be the Saw Doctor’s car. Not only was his car brightly coloured, but with bells and horns attached you could hear the car from a distance and invite him inside your property to sharpen your tools or help with odd jobs. It was a way of life as the Saw Doctor and his family also lived in the car travelling the country.
We had a short much-needed, lunch break at popular coffee shop Two before Ten. We were shown how coffee beans were taken from their original form and roasted in-store to ensure the best flavour, before packaging some to take back to our homes across Australia.
We were also given a sampling platter of some of the food on offer at the cafe (top right below) – cured duck, Angus beef marinated in coffee and chocolate, pulled pork, mushrooms with mozzarella cheese, and a salad of fennel, tomato and baby beetroot. All delicious in their own way, though the flavours of coffee and chocolate didn’t come through the Angus as much as I’d have hoped.
We were also given a dessert platter to share over, what else but, another coffee. Bannoffi pie, chocolate brownie and pears in a raspberry and ricotta dressing – delicious!
(Clockwise from top: tasting platter, mural behind the coffee counter, map highlighting where the coffee beans being used originate, freshly roasted coffee beans.)
Refueled we were only a short ride away from the National Film & Sound Archive, where most, if not all, Australian sound and film archives are stored. Yes, that’s right you can see anything from the classic Australian TV show Blue Heelers to Dannii Minogue when she was on Young Talent Time (we saw it!) or Aussie-made movies such as Crocodile Dundee and Rabbit Proof Fence.
They not only take current sound and film, they also repair it on site. Repairing records from all eras or converting film-to-DVD and balancing colour – it’s all done behind the doors of the National Film & Sound Archive, and you can take a glimpse of it when on tour.
(Clockwise from top: breakfast box contents; film recorder being converted to disc; solo picnicker; film being repaired)
(Clockwise from top: rabbit tagine; tortellini di zucca; our setting and degustation menu; cannoli alla siciliana (dessert); risotto agli asparagi bianchi)
Unfortunately, it was out last night in Canberra, with just Sunday morning left to complete our final activities. In celebration our groups were split up amongst the best restaurants throughout the city. Our restaurant? Mezzalira Ristorante.
Ordering from the degustation menu we were presented with four mains and one dessert, along with an regional alcohol paired tot he meal. Foods I would never normally try – white asparagus, rabbit, cherries soaked in rum – were all welcoming tastes to my under-developed palate and I found I actually liked them.
If you don’t feel like sitting through a whole degustation menu I recommend you try their most famous dish – Tortellini di Zucca. The whole table agreed that they could have skipped all the other courses and just eaten the buffalo milk, ricotta, pumpkin and leek filled tortellini, completed with a light and creamy sage butter sauce.
After one more night staying at the Hotel Diamant – with a much-needed 9:30am sleep-in – we were all bundled into the bus to take us to the Australian National Botanic Gardens for a picnic brunch (see pictures three photos above) with the rest of the humans (bar the Adventure group who were too busy cycling!)
It was an opportunity to meet new friends, catch up with old ones, and hear about what’s happening in the A.C.T. as part of Canberra’s 100th Centenary in 2013. Though my Mum (below) and I were pretty excited by the gourmet food boxes and Human Brochure picnic rugs that we were presented with.
Our last stop of the day was to the Canberra Glassworks and Old Bus Depot Markets.
At the Glassworks we got to watch quite a prominent Colorado glass worker create insects, designed by Canberra’s school children, in-front of our eyes, before snapping on a pair of goggles to make our own creation.
I made a flower – which I haven’t received in the mail yet, so no picture! – which took me a good 15-minutes to ensure the colours and the process were done right.
But our instructor, Yuri, is well-known for his glass flowers and unicorns, so we dared him to make one. No longer than 3 minutes passed and he had created an almost perfect – he mucked the tail up at the last twirl – miniature unicorn and set it on the table for our inspection. Beautiful, isn’t it?!
The Old Bus Depot Markets must be a meeting place for the vintage and hipster of Canberra. With plenty of vintage fashion, organic and vegan foods, and old books and records for sale, it was a pretty fun place to spend the short amount of time we had left exploring.
Mum and I filled our shopping bags with pizzas, gluten-free pasta and sauces, as well as delicious raspberry and white chocolate muffins – the perfect snacks to take back to our homes for just a small taste of Canberra.
After a quick coffee catch-up with a friend from high school, our Canberra Human Brochure cultural adventure was at an end.
Canberra is often forgotten by Australians as a travel destination – we question why we’d want to visit a city designed for politicians – when in reality there is a lot more to see and do than people probably realise, especially from a cultural point of view.
Would YOU like to experience Canberra’s culture?
Want to read more about Canberra or the Human Brochure?
Adventure – Albino echidnas, mountain hiking and 4WDing your thing? Then follow Amy & Kieron from Don’t Ever Look Back
Arts & Culture – That would be me, Nicole, as I get into the museum and food culture, as well as take a hot air balloon ride!
Family Fun – I’m not sure how she does it but Annabel from Get in the Hot Spot will be finding what’s fun to do in Canberra with her THREE kids – phew!
Food & Wine – Follow Tash from Jouljet as she has eats and drinks her way around the capital
My trip to Canberra was part of the Human Brochure campaign run by Visit Canberra.
As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.