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Mice Net : August 2008
canberra calling canberra the Capital’s top secret weekend certainly packs a punch, as Johanna McKinnon discovered. I t’s Australia’s business end of town with plenty of meetings in progress at all times of the day and night, but there’s more to Canberra than just a myriad of meeting space. And the recent ‘Top Secret’ famil sure proved that. DAY 1 Day one began like most other work days – to the office, however there was a top secret detour to the airport at around midday where I was whisked away for the weekend. The Canberra Convention Bureau had organised this showcase event which included almost 40 delegates. Our first stop was the National Capital Exhibition which included a lightshow that told the story of the construction of Canberra and how it has become the metropolis it is today. Dinner was at one of the newer properties in town, Hotel Realm. Our group congregated in the foyer of the hotel with some of Canberra’s dignitaries, representatives from the CCB and Hotel Realm to enjoy a hauntingly beautiful performance by a local choir which echoed throughout the establishment. Our bellies were soon full from a delicious three course meal and the night continued with live jazz and a night cap. DAY 2 An early wake-up call had the group bright-eyed and bushy tailed for a site inspection and breakfast at Rydges Lakeside. But the some would say insane time of the morning made much more sense once we sat down for breakfast and were greeted with three hot air balloons dotting the landscape from the windows of our breakfast tables. With full tummies again it was back on the bus for our next top secret destination (well not really, it was on the itinerary… but let’s keep with the theme). We were off to the Glassworks where we were invited to get creative! After we’d made our best efforts the in-house professional glass- blower crafted a magnificent vase before our eyes, making us realise we had much to learn. Lunch was another spectacular culinary experience. This time we indulged at the Boat House. With boosted energy levels it was time to explore the National Convention Centre and its myriad of meeting spaces. As well as checking out capacities and event possibilities we also ventured into the kitchen where a culinary cook-off awaited. Four teams battled against each other in a game-show style competition to create the best dessert. With ice-cream, sprinkles and fruit, teams got creative and into the Canberra spirit with some key monuments appearing on plates. We then had the opportunity to meet local Canberra properties and operators at a tradeshow at the NCC. Following this we had a tour through one of the biggest attractions in Canberra, the Australian War Memorial, where we discovered the event spaces and embraced the emotion of the closing ceremony. Despite our hectic day we managed to get our appetites back for dinner at the Park Hyatt which turned out to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Greeted with French champagne delegates networked and gushed about our day before a multiple-course feast which ended with a sweet surprise. A wall was moved to reveal a hidden room filled with desserts of every 104 mice.net