Saturday, December 31, 2011

Goodbye 2011

Late afternoon New Year's Eve 2011. Happy New Year everyone - I hope 2012 is good to you!

Friday, December 30, 2011


This is a fairly nondescript, if not downright ugly, building, but the interesting thing is that it is part of an unusual school arrangement. It's on the shared campus of a government primary school and a Catholic primary school. They each have some distinct buildings of their own, but share a library, hall, computer network, canteen, sports ovals and carpark facilities.

From the Holy Spirit school website:

"Holy Spirit Primary and Gold Creek Primary Schools are the ACT’s first shared facility schools and are located next to one another on a campus in the suburb of Nicholls. Both education systems funded the building of the shared facilities, which are the carpark, the resource centre, canteen, gymnasium and oval.
At present the schools have a growing population. Holy Spirit has Kindergarten to Year 6, while Gold Creek has years Kindergarten to Year 5. Year 6 is accommodated at the secondary site as part of a middle school.

Each school is typical of other schools in their respective systems. What makes these schools different from the norm is that the children are not segregated and can mix in a variety of ways. They play together in the yard and on the play equipment, they attend a number of shared assemblies each term, and on occasion they share educational activities. Staff from both schools also mix. They share playground supervision, joint staff meetings each term, shared professional development and weekly morning teas.

Both education systems provide funding for equipment and resources for the shared facilities, such as computers and books for the library and gymnastics equipment for the gymnasium. The gymnasium, library and canteen are much larger than would be found in single new schools, because both education systems have contributed towards their building costs."

From the viewpoint above, look left and you'll see the main entrance to Gold Creek School:

And opposite, to the right from the original viewpoint, is Holy Spirit primary school administration block:

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Giant monotreme in Ngunnawal

Tucked in among the trees beside the Platypus Centre shops in Ngunnawal, you might be lucky to spot the unique giant platypus, but only if you're very, very quiet ...

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Straight down

A very ordinary scene - a shopping centre carpark exit, but from an angle you don't often notice.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011


We don't see a lot of kookaburras around here, but this afternoon I heard the unmistakeable calls of a pair just out the back. They weren't around for long though - chased off by a pair of much smaller, but very aggressive, wagtails.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Friday, December 23, 2011

Bredbo Christmas Barn

Once upon a time, not too long ago, there was a shop in Woden Plaza called Unique Boutique. During the year it was filled with all sorts of things to decorate your home, and as the end of the year approached it turned into a wonderland of sparkly Christmas decorations. Unique Boutique closed down, but it now operates as the Bredbo Christmas Barn, in a little village about an hour south of Canberra, on the Monaro Highway towards Cooma.

Definitely worth a visit if you're in the market for a new tree (even an upside down one to hang from the ceiling), a reindeer dressed as something like a cross between Marie Antoinette and a Can-Can dancer (in several sizes, the largest of which was taller than my 10 year old), Disney ornaments, birds with real feathers (including partridges, although I didn't see any pear trees), Nativity scenes, and much much more. But sadly you're too late this year - they've closed up today, and won't be open again until June.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Santa's in Cooma

As we drove into Cooma, a little over 100km south of Canberra, to visit friends today, we spotted dozens of these jolly red fellows sitting up on the shop awnings along the main street, including above a hairdresser ...

... over a bank ...

... and above the biker-friendly East End Cafe.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

All dressed up

Remember the Kambah sheep that I photographed back in May? Well, it appears they do indeed get dressed up for Christmas!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Santa stop here

This Christmas display is out the front of Big W (a department store owned by Woolworths) in Gungahlin. Not sure if Santa's just supposed to stop to pick up his mail, or if he's being encouraged to shop in Big W ...

Monday, December 19, 2011

Not Santa

Tucked away behind the big glitzy tree and the shiny red Santa sleigh at Westfield Belconnen is a (much smaller) Nativity scene. Who said Christmas was all about commerce? But you really need to go looking for the alternatives ...

Sunday, December 18, 2011

O Christmas Tree!

The 3-level high Christmas tree in Westfield Belconnen, with summer sunshine streaming in through the skylights.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

8 sleeps

Only 8 sleeps until Christmas now, but Santa's sleigh has been at Westfield Belconnen since early November, when I took this photo (although I think Santa arrived a little later than that).

Friday, December 16, 2011

Big slide

This is the big slide at Kambah District Park. Off Springbett Street in Kambah, this is a fabulous family park that I hadn't visited before. Enough to keep kids busy and active for hours, with slides, swings, flying foxes, an adventure playground and more. And plenty of big shady trees when the sun is a bit strong. We'll definitely be heading back.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

What a galah!

Galahs are noisy birds, and you often hear them before you see them. They have a distinctive, unmistakeable bright pink and grey plumage, and this, together with their raucous sound and what often seems to be clowning behaviour have led to the use of the word 'galah' to mean someone who's a bit of a fool or idiot.

They're very common around here now, and have adapted well to life in the suburbs, where they can often be seen perched up on the wires or somewhat awkwardly walking on the grass, feeding on seeds.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Bus terminal

This is the interstate bus terminal in Canberra. Buses pull into the back of the Jolimont Centre - the building on the right, which faces onto Northbourne Avenue. Upstairs is the Novotel Canberra.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Canberra City Uniting Church

The Canberra City Uniting Church, Northbourne Avenue. The current church buildings were opened in 1988, but the site has been used for services since about 1940. Until 1977 it was Congregational Church, becoming the Uniting Church when the Congregationalists, Methodists and some Presbyterians in Australia decided to combine. The new buildings contain, as well as the church itself, church offices, conference facilities, commercial office space and the Early Morning Centre, which provides services to the community, especially homeless people living on the city streets.

There is an information leaflet about the church's history and design features on the church website.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Moore Street

A wider view of Moore Street and the building with yesterday's ladders.

Saturday, December 10, 2011


In front of the ACT Health building in Civic, on the corner of Alinga and Moore Streets and across the road from the GPO, sits a large polished stainless steel and red fibreglass sculpture by Michael Kitching. Dated 1978, it's titled 'Seqvanae', and it has (appropriately for its location) a number of health-related aspects in its design.

The title is spelt out in a format not unlike an optometrist's chart. Seqvanae is a reference to a Roman goddess of healing, who seems to be derived from the Gallic-Celtic Sequana, the goddess of the River Seine. A healing shrine was established at the springs which fed the Seine in the 1st or 2nd Century BC. The Romans, in typical Roman assimilation, took over the local goddess and shrine and made it bigger and better.

The red and silver crosses and the stylised snake and rod of Aesculapius are all internationally-recognised symbols related to health and medicine.

I'm not 100% sure what 'AFMSABOX' means, although I did find a comment that suggests they are the initials of members of the artist's family (including pets).

Friday, December 9, 2011

Little boxes

Post Office boxes at the Canberra GPO, cnr Moore and Alinga Streets, Civic.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Black Mountain Guide Hall

Throughout the suburbs of Canberra you may come across small halls, often located adjacent to public ovals or parks, usually with a gravel carpark and nothing much else around them. These are the places where Girl Guides and Scouts meet. This particular hall is the Black Mountain District Girl Guide hall, located in Clianthus St in the suburb of O'Connor.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Sakyamuni Buddhist Centre

According to the Visit Canberra website, the Sakyamuni Buddhist Centre in Archibald St, Lyneham has the tallest open air statues of Buddha in Australia. The temple was established in 1983, and the centre also incorporates the Van Hahn Monastery. It's the largest Buddhist temple in Canberra, and it looked like there was further construction in progress when we drove past today.

I would think this type of gate would have a specific name, but I have no idea what it is, however the gate itself is very impressive. If you'd like to know more, there are some photos and information on the Destination Saigon blog.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


490-496 Northbourne Avenue, on the corner of Antill St, Dickson.

Telstra, Australia's biggest telecommunications company (which was originally government-owned but has been progressively sold off, not necessarily for the better), occupies the building at the back of this photo (Telstra House). The building at the front - 496 Northbourne Avenue, which replaced the old Kodak House a few years ago, is tenanted by a number of mostly government departments, as far as I could find out with a quick search online, including CrimTrac ("CrimTrac is the national information-sharing service for Australia's police, law enforcement and national security agencies").

Monday, December 5, 2011

Smith's Bookshop

I've been unwell over the weekend, and haven't been able to post, but on Friday I was in the city and dropped in to Smith's Alternative Bookshop. There aren't too many independent bookshops left, but this one has been operating since the 1970s. And they have coffee :)

Smith's stock new releases, and local books and CDs, and also rather 'interesting' books, like the pop-up Karma Sutra (I haven't seen it, but they mention it on their website, and the mind just boggles!).

Smith's is in Alinga Street in Civic, in the Melbourne Building, opposite the city post office. Yes, I know all the big shops are over the other side around the Canberra Centre, but you can find those shops anywhere. This is the only Smith's Alternative Bookshop.

Friday, December 2, 2011

St Ninian's, Lyneham

Not all of Canberra is modern public art and Brutalist concrete 1980s buildings. St Ninian's Uniting Church in Lyneham is an example of Canberra's early European settlement. Opened in 1873 as the district's second permanent church building (after St John's Church of England at Reid), it replaced an earlier (1862) slab and bark building used by the Scottish Presbyterian settlers. The stone was quarried locally - from Black Mountain - and the original building was a simple rectangle with two arched windows down each side. The church was extended in 1901, using the same stone and adding another arched window on each side, but attendances declined for several reasons, and the building was closed in 1920.


For over 20 years the building served as a hay barn, and then was completely abandoned and left to decay. But in 1941 it caught the attention of the minister of St Andrew's Presbyterian Church, Canberra, and he was instrumental in its restoration and reopening in 1942, under the new name of St Ninian's.

A church hall was added in 1961, and there were further extensions in 1978-79 (using Black Mountain stone), after St Ninian's had become part of the Uniting Church in Australia (formed by Methodist, Presbyterian and Congregational churches) in 1977. For those interested, there's more information on the church website and in the 2011 ACT Heritage Notice.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Goongarline

This is part of an installation in Gungahlin called The Goongarline - and the similarity in pronunciation is no accident. The work is by Malcolm Utley, and was completed in 2008.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Stormy weather

It's been a little damp here in the past 24 hours. We've had some violent electrical storms and sudden heavy downpours, and the stormwater system is getting a good run. Fortunately, the suburbs of Canberra have numerous low-lying green belts designed to take the overflow.

This Eastern Great Egret looks like he's waiting to cross the torrent. He might have to wait awhile ...

A minute later the heavens opened again, and I had to run for the shelter of the car. Meanwhile the egret continued to stand there.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Fish pond

This is the pond where yesterday's frogs live (Cafe Injoy, Gold Creek).