05 October 2006


Monday was Labour Day, so Heather and I took a quick trip down to the nation's capital. We rented a Hyundai Getz (pronounced he-YUN-day here) Sunday morning and took off. We stopped at the Bradman Museum in Bowral, home of the
greatest cricket player of all time, Sir Donald Bradman. Notice the 'pitch' pool with its 'wicket' fountains (reference photo here). At the museum and
on the website you see '99.94' a lot: this was his lifetime batting average. To put that in perspective for you non-cricketers, the next nine fall between 58 and 61 (a group
including Ricky Ponting, current captain of the Australian team). In his last at bat, he needed only 4 runs to have a lifetime average of 100, but got a duck--no runs.
It was then on to Canberra, where the theme of the weekend was 'flowers'. Floriade
is an annual event in the spring that we have heard quite a bit about. The flowers were tightly planted to form patterns when viewed from overhead, each one celebrating a different country. You can get an idea of the plan in this map.
We got up Monday and visited Parliament House. It is a unique
structure in that it is basically underground. There was a hill, they dug it up and built Parliament House, and put the hill back on top. There are several reasons for this. One is the overall design of the city. Walter Burley Griffin was an American architect who designed
the city to fit into the natural environment. Another reason, more symbolic, concerns the idea of government 'of the people, by the people, for the people'. You can actually walk on top of the hill and physically look down on Parliament--a reminder that the people are in control. Another interesting
feature of the House is the clocks--all 2416 of them, at least one visible from anywhere in the building. The small squares, one between 4 and 5, one between 7 and 8, light up green and red respectively. The coloured squares, along with a bell, alert the house (green) and the senate (red) they have four minutes to get to their chamber for a vote or be locked out.
Heather had a little fun in the gift shop at Parliament House--she is pictured here wearing what I think was a koala potholder on her head.
From there it was on to the Botanic Gardens where we saw--what else?--more flowers. These gardens are home to more
indigenous Australian plants in one place than anywhere else in the world--over 10 000 species. Among them we saw waratahs, the large flower the NSW rugby union team was named for. We took part in a guided tour that was very informative concerning the plants and flowers we saw.
Some people say Canberra is
dull, but I found it very nice. It has some of the features of a big city (namely, major sports teams), but also feels small, partly because there really aren't many people and partly because of the Burley Griffin design. And if you ever visit, be sure to eat at Mecca Bah (I recommend the lamb with Lebanese lady fingers for dessert).
Lots of pictures for you here. Be sure to click on some of the photos to enlarge them. Heather and I got a new camera--you're now looking at 7.2 megapixels of brilliance.

1 comment:

Andrew said...

Kinda stumbled on your blog, kinda by accident but I've bookmarked it, and shall be back.

I visited Canberra in 1992 and rented a bike from the Youth Hostel where I was staying. The gear cable came loose early in the day and kept me in bottom gear so I was glad it wasn't overly hilly.

I'd also chosen to wear shorts - a poor choice of attire for a windy October day. As I did the tourist thing on the roof of the parliament building I thought I was going to go down with hypothermia.

Still, I was very charmed by the place. The only thing I didn't care for was that in my 3 days there, I nver saw a single pub.

What's that all about?