Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Red means stop

11pm on Coulter Drive, Belconnen (I was stopped at a red light).

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Sheep in the city (part 2)

Ainslie's Sheep. Les Kossatz. 2001. Cast aluminium on concrete pedestal

This rather uncomfortable-looking sheep is sitting in City Walk, near Petrie Plaza, in Civic. He had a more conventionally positioned friend, but a couple of weeks ago when I took this photo it was missing, apparently stolen (who would do that?).

Anyway - the nearby plaque reads:

Ainslie's Sheep

It is well known that Canberra, the nation's capital, has been described as 'a good sheep station spoiled'.

In 1825 James Ainslie arrived here with 700 sheep to establish Duntroon station for Sydney merchant Robert Campbell. He was guided to the land by an Aboriginal girl. Duntroon included the present suburbs of Reid and Campbell, Mount Ainslie and the site of the Royal Military College.

According to legend, James Ainslie was quite a character and a flashy dresser. There is an account of his embroidered waistcoat being taken by a bushranger. But Ainslie was no mere dandy. He ran the station efficiently, mustering his men for parade each morning.

By 1834 the Duntroon flock had increased to 20,000. James Ainslie returned to Scotland in 1835. Mount Ainslie and the suburb of Ainslie bear his name.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Too much stuff

Storage facility, Mitchell.

These places are popping up at an alarming rate, and they're a symptom of a (literally) growing problem - too much stuff. Of course, some people see it as 'not enough space', even though our parents and grandparents often managed in much smaller houses and with larger families. So what happens when you've filled up the house and the garage? You rent an empty space with a roller door, and fill that up too. Just crazy.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

The life you save could be your own

Road signs on Gungahlin Drive, Mitchell.

This photo was taken from the car yesterday (no - I wasn't driving!), and I haven't adjusted the colours at all - this is what a clear winter day in Canberra looks like :)

Saturday, June 25, 2011

One for the birds

Just around the corner from yesterday's elephants is this very large parrot, and he has a blue friend on the wall to the left:

Every garden needs a gardener, and she's here too:

Friday, June 24, 2011

More on the secret garden in the city

I mentioned topiary in yesterday's post, but I neglected to mention the topiary elephants in the service courtyard off Ainslie Avenue. I did, however, promise the Loch Ness Monster's cousin ...

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Surprise garden

In a parking/service area behind city buildings, joined by a short lane to Ainslie Avenue, is a small world of manicured hedges, topiary, a couple of very large parrots and what could be the Loch Ness Monster's cousin.

The large murals are by Stylized Impact, a local airbrush studio, who have commissioned work all over Canberra. I like the murals - much better than the graffiti tagging that blank walls would attract, and a lovely surprise in hidden corners of the city.

More images of this courtyard to come on later days ...

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Blood red

The Australian Red Cross Blood Service van is in Belconnen this week, providing a bright spot of colour despite the weather. I had an appointment today, and let me assure you it was much warmer in the van than outside!

You can make an appointment to donate at one of the main centres or at a mobile van on the website or by phoning 13 14 95.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

All washed up

Baths at the R Shop at Michell Resource Management Centre (taken on a brighter, drier and somewhat warmer day than today*).

The R Shop resells items rescued from disposal. You can find old school desks, vinyl records, books, toys, bicycles in various states of disrepair, kitchenware and all manner of things. Mostly they'll need some work, or at the very least a good scrub, but they're generally cheap and you might find a real bargain.

* It's been raining on and off all day, with gusty winds. It's officially 5.7 degrees C at  2.30pm, but with the wind chill factor the apparent temp is -1.0. Brrr ...)

Monday, June 20, 2011

Around in Fisher

Fisher is a suburb in the Weston Creek district. It's named for Andrew Fisher, who was a Scottish coal miner, staunch unionist, and became Prime Minister of Australia for three terms between 1908 and 1915.

The circular carpark is quite unusual for a local shopping centre - this is the only one I've seen in my travels. The suburb was one of the first to be developed in Weston Creek, in 1968, and it's currently home to about 3000 residents.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Melbourne Building

PJ O'Reilly's is an Irish pub on Alinga Street, Civic. It's been there since 1999, and is a popular venue for after-work drinks and functions.

The pub is housed in part of the Melbourne Building. Because I've had a really busy weekend and I'm exhausted, I'm just going to quote from Wikipedia on this building (and the matching Sydney Building):

The Melbourne and Sydney buildings were based on design principles set by John Sulman in sketch form. The design work was finalised by J H Kirkpatrick. The buildings were the model which establish the colonnade principle, an important design element throughout Civic. From 1921 to 1924 Sulman was chairman of the Federal Capital Advisory Committee, and in that role was involved in the planning of Canberra and refining Griffin's plan.

Sulman's concept of arcaded loggias was derived from Brunelleschi's Ospedale degli Innocenti (Foundling Hospital) and the cloisters of the 15th century Basilica di San Lorenzo di Firenze. The Mediterranean influence was maintained by Kirkpatrick with Roman roof tiles and cast embellishments such as roundels. The buildings were originally constructed with open first floor verandahs which have since largely been glazed in.

The Melbourne Building was sold sequentially as independent parcels from 1927 until 1946. The corner of West Row and London Circuit was built specifically for the Bank of New South Wales (now the Westpac Banking Corporation). The manager lived above the bank. Much of the Melbourne Building facing West Row was completed by the Commonwealth Government in 1946 and used as the location of the Commonwealth Employment Service. From 1944 to 1953, the Canberra University College was housed in the Melbourne building. On 11 April 1953 the Melbourne Building was severely damaged by fire and the college relocated (it eventually became the Australian National University).

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Very big for a little man

The Big Little Man [Dean Bowen, 1999]

This bronze sculpture, The Big Little Man, stands in Petrie Plaza in Civic. He's like a child's drawing, expanded into three dimensions and about two metres tall.

Dean Bowen is a Melbourne artist, who paints, draws and prints as well as sculpting. He has a number of these whimsical sculptures in various places, including The Farmer in Shepparton, Victoria, and Aeroplane Boy in Melbourne.

This is what the artist had to say about The Big Little Man:
This sculpture (“The Big Little Man”) was based on a small bronze maquette, which weighed about 7 kilos. This sculpture weighs approximately 400 kilograms. Originally made in clay and then cast in bronze using the lost wax method of casting.

I think of his face as a giant section of the earth and the planet, the undulations where it goes up and down like the earth; the holes in the sculpture are like caves or hills, mountains and valleys; the large hat is apart from being a hat is also like a landscape with two huge hills like Mt St.Victoire in France ... 

This sculpture included originally making an armature of the piece – so with a large pole was put up through the center of the sculpture or where the sculpture would become, and other metal was welded around in an armature way, that was covered with chicken wire and inside the chicken wire was stuffed newspaper. Onto that armature clay was pushed into the chicken wire and gradually I made the sculpture by putting lots of clay onto the armature and gradually created the sculpture just with my hands.

When the sculpture was completed, a mould was taken and from the mould a wax was taken and using the lost wax method of casting liquid bronze was poured into the blank space. It was cast in two pieces, the head separately from the body and later on the two pieces welded together with rods that go through the head and the torso.

Then the sculpture was chased, where all the little rough bits of bronze were ground away, chiseled off, sanded, just generally cleaned-up which is a massive job. And finally the patina was put on to the sculpture where the sculpture is heated with a blow torch and with different chemical compounds painted directly onto the bronze. With the patina finished the sculpture is finally waxed, and the wax painted over the bronze protects the bronze so it can be outdoors for several years.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Coin collecting

I don't think I've ever actually seen someone collecting the parking meter money before this. He was on Ainslie Avenue in Civic, walking around with his heavy metal cylinder on a trolley, opening the meters and removing the coins. No security apart from his radio, but I guess you'd have to be a pretty keen thief to take a load of heavy coins, and then try to break into the cylinder! I hope the owner of the car behind him wasn't too far away - his meter has expired and the parking police are often around.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Feeling a little yellow

Spotted this little fellow on the footpath outside Tosolini's on London Circuit in the city yesterday. Little things like this make me smile :)

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

On the buses

I don't catch buses very often, but today I needed to go into the city for a meeting, and The Husband required the car, so a bus it was.

Public transport in Canberra is provided by ACTION - the ACT Internal Omnibus Network. Modern buses, like this one, have easy access - there's just the one step onto the bus for normal use, an extendable ramp, and the whole bus can tilt over slightly towards the door to minimise the step height from ground level. Some buses (like this one) are powered by compressed natural gas. If you're into the mechanics, there's a spec sheet for this bus available on the ACTION website. The bus system is quite good, although it takes quite a lot longer for a journey than it does by car as the buses wind through the suburbs.

The yellow structure on the front is a double bike rack, and someone got on with a bike during the journey, so I was able to get a photo of it in use:

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Daytime moon

The moon has been very visible in the afternoon sky recently. This photo was taken on Saturday, at about 3.30pm.

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Bush Capital

This photo was taken on Saturday from the water reservoir hill in Spence, near the top of Copland Drive. That's Black Mountain, with the tall telecommunications tower on its summit, and in between are the suburbs of Evatt, McKellar and Bruce. Roughly 12,000 people live in those three suburbs, although it's a bit difficult to imagine that from this angle - you can certainly see why Canberra is called the 'Bush Capital'!

Sunday, June 12, 2011


I glimpsed a flash of bright red in a eucalypt while out for a walk yesterday, and eventually spotted this fellow and his mate in amongst the leaves. They were very good at keeping mostly out of sight, and this is the best photo I could get. He's a Crimson Rosella, similar to the King Parrot, but the blue cheeks are the giveaway.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Not just on Sundays

I walked home from school with the kids yesterday, and on the way we passed North Belconnen Baptist Church, in Chomley Court, Evatt. Many of the churches in Canberra are of fairly recent design, and often they fulfil several functions. As well as church services, they might act as community halls, host playgroups, or be the venue for creative or discussion groups.

Friday, June 10, 2011


221 London Circuit. Probably the easiest address to find in Civic, for obvious reasons.

The building was constructed in 1969 as 'Electricity House'. It underwent a name change to 'ACTEW House' in 1992, following the merger of the electricity and water & sewerage utilities in 1988, and then to 'ACTEW AGL House' when ACTEW and the Australian Gas Light Company formed a partnership. That name has relocated elsewhere in the city with the organisation's head office, and the building is now known as '221 London', and even has its own website.

The red sculpture on the left is Choice of Passage, by Phil Spelman.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Delivering the mail

Postman at the intersection of Southern Cross and Coulter Drives, Belconnen. Belconnen is behind us, the suburb of Page is in front to the left, and Florey is ahead and right. The postie was rugged up well against the cold yesterday - they have to deal with freezing temperatures in winter, sweltering temps in summer, and magpies in spring.

Some fast facts from the Australia Post website, referring to the 2009-10 year:

  • We delivered 5.1 billion items of mail.
  • We deliver to 10.7 million Australian addresses.
  • We deliver mail five days a week to 98.8% of delivery points.
  • We deliver mail two days a week to 99.9% of delivery points.
  • We maintain approximately 16,039 street posting boxes.
  • 96.1% of domestic letters were delivered on time or early.
  • 97.9% of bulk mail was delivered on time or early.
  • The basic postage rate is 60 cents. 

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

On the wings of a dove

The ACT Memorial, Ainslie Avenue, Civic.

This is a two-part memorial: the physical part you can see in these photos, and a website with the stories of those who are commemorated. The memorial honours men and women who were associated with the ACT prior to active service in conflicts, peacekeeping missions and related activities.

The sculptural part of the memorial was designed by Canberra artist Matthew Harding, and installed in 2006. The tall 'wings' or 'feathers' represent the Dove of Peace, enfolding the globe/world and the memorial space.

The website includes a database of people eligible for inclusion in the memorial, and if you know or are related to someone eligible, you can apply to have them added to the database. The ACT Heritage Library has many interesting stories too.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

City living

City Plaza Apartments on City Walk, Civic.

The apartments were built in 1996, above the shops and businesses in the city centre. They overlook a pedestrian plaza and the Canberra Centre - a large shopping centre, and from the top you could possibly see across to Mount Ainslie. The only thing I could find about the apartments through Google was that they can be rented short term through Canberra Wide Apartments, but some of the balconies suggest that people live here on a longer term basis.

Monday, June 6, 2011

The eyes have it

Stencil art in Ainslie Avenue in the city. The work (and there are quite a few more eyes and mouths in the complete work) is by a guy named Luke, but better known as E.L.K. He's apparently moving more into art for gallery exhibitions, but I really like these images, out in the elements.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

High school basketball courts

Late afternoon light on the treetops around the Melba-Copland high school basketball courts.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

I'll meet you at the bike racks after school

The empty bike shed at Melba-Copland high school, waiting to be occupied again on Monday. Abandoned, apart from the dead leaves and a damaged dictionary left behind on the cold concrete floor ...

Friday, June 3, 2011

Men at work

Roadworks at the intersection of Hindmarsh and Melrose Drives, Woden.

Woden was the name given to a property bought in 1837 by Dr James Murray. Dr Murray was a classical scholar as well as a medical doctor, and the name 'Woden' probably came from the Norse God of War and Patron of Learning.

Woden was the first of the Town Centres to be developed in Canberra, with people moving into newly constructed houses in the surrounding suburbs from 1962 onwards. Woden Town Centre is in the suburb of Phillip, named for Captain Arthur Phillip who led the First Fleet and became the new colony of New South Wales' first Governor. Hindmarsh Drive is named after Sir John Hindmarsh, the first Governor of South Australia, while Melrose was the name of a homestead in the area.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Busy Fyshwick

Canberra is a planned city, and some suburbs have particular functions. Many are primarily residential, some are industrial, some have large retail precincts. Fyshwick is mainly light industrial and bulky retail - furniture, motor vehicles, building materials and so on. Unlike most of Canberra, which is a pretty well-behaved city, Fyshwick tends to be messy and a bit chaotic. Vehicles park all over the place, there's a lot of traffic, and there are large bright signs everywhere. It's also one of two Canberra suburbs where prostitution is a legal business (the other is Mitchell), so it's busy at night too.

Fyshwick was named after Sir Philip Oakley Fysh, a former Tasmanian Premier in the late 19th century. The suburb's streets are named for Australian industrial towns and regions. Collie is a coal mining town in Western Australia, while Wollongong, a city on the NSW coast south of Sydney, has a history of mining and steelworking, and is an important seaport.

This is the scene this morning out the front of Joe's Motorcycles in Collie Street, looking toward Wollongong Street.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Dreaming art

This mural is located on the grounds of Melba-Copland Secondary School High School Campus (high school in Canberra is Year 7-10, about 12-16 years of age, and is followed by college - Years 11 and 12, about 17-18 years of age).

The mural was painted by Dale Huddleston and dated 2001. Dale is an Aboriginal artist, and is well represented in Canberra schools. He was a student at Woden Valley High School and worked as artist-in-residence with the ACT Department of Education for 10 years.