Sunday, July 31, 2011

Gold Creek

O'Hanlon Place, Nicholls. This area is generally known as Gold Creek, after a local homestead. On either side of this street are cafes and other businesses catering to tourists as well as locals. There's also a bird aviary, a reptile centre (spot the green turtle sign), a motel (on the right, with the white arches), Cockington Green Model Village, and right down the end of the street and just to the right, the National Dinosaur Museum.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

The main drag

This is a south-facing view of part of Northbourne Avenue, the main artery from Civic (and with a few wiggles, it continues over Lake Burley Griffin to Parliament House) north to join with the Federal Highway (which joins the Hume Highway and ends up in Sydney). The cross street straight ahead is Alinga Street, and Infrastructure House, where we were yesterday, is to the left. The arched buildings on the left and right past Alinga Street are the Melbourne and Sydney buildings.

If we ever get a light rail system in Canberra, this is probably where it would go, for this stretch of the journey. And this is how it looks from the same point facing in the opposite direction (north):

Friday, July 29, 2011


This is the atrium of Infrastructure House, at the corner of Alinga Street and Northbourne Avenue in Civic. I'm not sure of the history of this building, but it looks as though it was built around an open atrium, which has since been enclosed to make a sunny but sheltered space with a cafe area on the ground floor, and the offices of the Department of Infrastructure and Transport (hence the building name) looking down into the space.

There are more photos of the building and the atrium on the property manager's website.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Organic coffee

Enjoying the sunshine on a cold winter's morning at Belconnen Markets.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Customs House

Customs House, Civic. This building, together with the buildings on either side, form the Finlay Crisp Centre. They're all occupied by government offices: ACT government offices in the buildings on the sides, and the Australian Customs Service (the sole tenant of Customs House and with several floors of the building on the right). The street I took the photo from is Constitution Avenue.

If you're interested in who Finlay Crisp was, have a look at his entry in the Australian Dictionary of Biography.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Flying high

Icarus Series [Jan Brown. 2009. Bronze]

From the plaque:
These four bronze figures are inspired by the ancient Greek myth of Icarus. In this story Icarus' father, Daedalus, created wings made from feathers and wax for himself and his son to flee from captivity on the island of Crete, Icarus is warned by his father not to fly too close to the sun or the sea. However, exhilarated by the experience of flight Icarus flies too high, his waxen wings melt and he falls to his death. Brown's sculpture encourages sympathy with Icarus' unbridled exuberance and an acceptance of its inevitable tragic consequences.

This sculpture is located in Petrie Plaza, near the intersection with City Walk.

A government media release at the time the sculpture was installed reads:
Stanhope and community celebrate Icarus series
Released 16/12/2009

Canberra's community today celebrated the arrival of the city's newest street artwork, the highlyanticipated Icarus Series by local artist Jan Brown OAM.

Chief Minister and Minister for the Arts and Heritage, Jon Stanhope, said the launch, at 9.30am (December 16) in Petrie Plaza east, between Bunda Street and the Merry-Go-Round, had been an ideal opportunity for hundreds of city shoppers, workers and visitors to share in this historic occasion.

He said the site was chosen specifically for its highly visibility and high-traffic areas for pedestrians.

"The Icarus Series consists of four cast bronze figures merging bird and human forms inspired by the Greek myth of Daedalus and his son Icarus, as well as local Canberra birdlife.

"These 1.8m to 2.6m high clay figures are striking and were made in Canberra at the Australian National University Sculpture Workshop before being cast in Melbourne.

"I was pleased to see so many people here to celebrate the arrival of this remarkable series," he said.

"I am delighted to welcome the first work by Jan Brown to the ACT public art collection and encourage Canberrans to embrace this vibrant addition to the city centre," said Mr Stanhope.

Jan Brown studied under the revered English sculptor and artist, Henry Moore, and has been exhibiting in group and solo shows nationally and internationally since 1949. Since then she has earned herself a reputation of being one of Canberra's great artists, teachers and mentors.

Mr Stanhope said "She is respected throughout the arts community for her dedication to the visual arts and her many endeavours on its behalf. She is a member of the Order of Australia and an Emeritus Fellow of the Australia Council."

Her work is represented in the collections of the Australian National University, Artbank, Parliament House, the Legislative Assembly for the ACT and the National Library of Australia.

The artist generously donated a major collection of her work to the Canberra Museum and Gallery, which also houses ciment fondu versions of the Icarus Series.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Big box shopping comes to Canberra

Guess what's come to Canberra? Opened on Friday, this is the third Australian store for the US giant, after Melbourne in August 2009 and Sydney on Thursday last week. I'm a little surprised that Canberra was chosen before one of the larger cities, unless it was to do with the availability of land.

It really is 'big box' shopping - a huge warehouse-like space, big trolleys, big package sizes, and a big checkout total at the end! From what I can work out, we saved over the equivalent of the annual membership cost in our first foray out there today, and didn't come out with too many things we didn't really need (although perhaps the bottle of Hersheys Chocolate Syrup wasn't strictly necessary).

There have been a lot of very excited people talking about Costco opening for months, and while I don't really understand that excitement, we'll probably do a planned bulk shop once a month or so for basics.

Sunday, July 24, 2011


Winter sunset through the clouds. Taken from the Monaro Highway, Fyshwick, looking towards Black Mountain.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

From here to Eternity

Eternity [John Robinson. 1980. Polished bronze and painted steel]

Installed at the junction of London Circuit and Petrie Plaza in Civic, John Robinson's Eternity is said to "symbolize the sculptor’s faith in the future of mankind. It was cast in Italy and donated to the people of Canberra by an anonymous donor in 1981". The plaque gives away nothing of the interesting story behind the sculpture.

John Robinson was born in England in 1935, to an Australian father and an English mother. During World War II he was evacuated to Australia, and went to school at Melbourne Grammar. On his return to England, he went to Rugby School, where he excelled in sculpture and geometry - an early indication of where his path would lead. But before he became a known sculptor, John joined the Merchant Navy, but left when he arrived back in Australia. he worked jobs as a jackeroo and drover, and joined the mounted police in Western Australia.

He married in the 1950s, and he and Margie bought a block in South Australia where they established a sheep farm and where their three sons were born. In the 1960s, John started making models of friends and children, and in 1969 he sold the farm for enough money to support the family for two years and for them all to move to England so he could concentrate on his sculpture.

He began making non-figurative sculptures n 1975, and his interest in mathematics became apparent. He was made an Honorary Fellow of the University of Wales, and was involved with the Mathematics Department and the Centre for the Popularisation of Mathematics. You can read more of his story in his autobiography. John died in 2007 from lung cancer.

Eternity was based on 100 equilateral triangles, each with a hole in the centre, threaded onto a ring. The triangles were twisted and plastered to form, in effect, a Mobius Band. The process is illustrated in a series of three photos, and there's a mathematical explanation here. The sculpture was then cast in bronze.

Fascinating stuff from a fascinating man. It's a shame more people don't know the significance of the sculpture.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Colour my world

These bright splashes of colour are next to the airport, and are part of Brindabella Business Park.The development claims to be Australia's greenest business centre, producing less carbon dioxide, and using much less energy and water than similar complexes.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

9 beers on tap

The Royal Hotel, Queanbeyan. Queanbeyan is just over the border in New South Wales, but there's a lot of crossover between it and Canberra. The two cities have very different characters, however. Queanbeyan is clearly a NSW country town, from the main street with shops lining both sides to the surrounding commercial, industrial and residential areas that have grown organically as the town developed. Canberra, in contrast has clusters of shops scattered throughout the planned suburbs, which were opened up in an orderly fashion as the population increased. Coming from NSW, Canberra can be very disorienting - especially if you're trying to find a petrol station!

Queanbeyan was established in 1838, although there were squatters and sheep stations earlier than that. It officially became a city (with the requisite population of 15,000) in 1972.

A pub opened on this site in 1850 as Byrnes Hotel. Operated by the local businessman Martin Byrne, it acquired the name Royal Hotel in 1870. The present building dates from 1926.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Feds

We were at the airport this evening for a pick up, but the plane we were waiting for was delayed for three hours, so not only did we have plenty of time to head out to Queanbeyan for dinner, there was ample time to sneak up behind a couple of Australian Federal Police (AFPs) and take their photo.

Canberra Airport was bought from the Federal Government by a private consortium in 1998, together with the surrounding land and the former Fairbairn RAAF (Royal Australian Air Force) base. Since then, there's been a lot of commercial development in the area, as well as an ongoing redevelopment of the terminal and infrastructure. The current terminal and multistorey carpark will be duplicated in a mirror image, due for completion by the end of 2012, and once the large glass atrium joining the two halves of the terminal is complete, it should be quite an impressive building.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Facing the flag

Looking from the end of Acton Peninsula across Lake Burley Griffin and Lennox Gardens to Parliament House. Before the man-made lake was filled, this area was a dairy farm and then a golf course, and a yacht club was based there later. It's now a public park, with barbecue and picnic facilities.

Monday, July 18, 2011


This is an Australasian Darter, commonly seen drying themselves off on the banks of Canberra's lakes, even on days when the temperatures don't make it into double figures. This one decided to go fishing soon after I took the photo, completely disappearing beneath the choppy waters as it looked for fish. They often float in the water with their bodies submerged and just their long, snakelike necks above the surface.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Catching the breeze

The National Museum of Australia extends over three levels. I took this photo from the top level - the Australian Journeys gallery - looking down into the children's area between the Old New Land  and Landmarks galleries on the ground floor, and further to the other part of the Landmarks gallery on the lower ground floor. The brightly coloured cupboards hide surprises for kids, and there's an activity booklet to go with them. There are also short red pillars with things for kids to look for in each area of the museum - a great way to keep them engaged and really looking at objects they might otherwise dismiss as just 'old stuff'.

That's a full-size windmill you can see. Obviously it's not set on the high tower familiar to anyone who's travelled through country areas in Australia, and it's quite impressive to see one up this close. This one has 24 blades - they can range from 11 to 36. The more blades, the slower the wheel will turn, but the less wind is required to get it started. It's 6 metres across, was made in the 1920s, and came from Kenya Station in Queensland. There's more information on this particular windmill on the museum's website.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

One more from the garden

One more image from the Garden of Australian Dreams. This photo is taken from somewhere near Darwin in the Northern Territory. You see, the ground of the Garden is a giant map, or rather a number of maps superimposed. It's a strip of Australia, running down from the Tiwi Islands (behind me) and down past Birdsville (over the other side of the hill). As well as place names and the names of Aboriginal tribal areas, there are survey marks, roads, rivers and vegetation types. And across the whole thing, there is the word 'home' in many of the languages spoken in multicultural Australia.

There's more symbolism here, but I think tomorrow we'll go inside.

Friday, July 15, 2011

A monster in the dream garden?

If you look carefully at yesterday's photo, you might notice someone sitting up high, behind the palm fronds.

According to the landscape architect, Richard Weller:
Sitting on a small porch off the front of the Dream Home, and laughing at all of this, is the garden's gnome - a monstrous figure of an 'antipodean', the sort of mythical, mutated people that, back in the Middle Ages, Europeans thought might live in the antipodes.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Great Australian Dream

A square patch of green grass, a blue swimming pool, a palm tree and a (somewhat stylised) house - the Great Australian Dream. And here it is, in the Garden of Australian Dreams at the National Museum of Australia. The sign on the wall behind the pool says No Swimming or Wading. Spoilsports!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Garden of Australian Dreams

Another angle on the National Museum of Australia. This photo is taken from the Garden of Australian Dreams - the large courtyard area inside the (kind of) doughnut-shaped building. I like how you can glimpse the lake from in here - the building was designed with its location firmly in mind.

The Garden is full of symbols. Designed by Richard Weller, a landscape architect who was a couple of years ahead of me at the University of NSW, it's been quite a controversial space, but kids especially seem to love it.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

A knot from the inside

It's school holidays here, and the kids and I desperately needed to get out of the house after being stuck inside with awful weather. So off we went to the National Museum of Australia. I worked here for a year in 2002-03, and we've been numerous times since I moved on, but recently there have been some major changes to the galleries and the branding, so it's well worth another visit if you haven't been for a while.

The museum is a social history museum, and now uses the tagline 'Where our stories live'. The brochures refer to it, and us, being part of a 'national conversation'.

From the outside it's much the same, and while there have been a few changes to The Hall, pictured here, it's still a huge, airy space, used for many temporary exhibits, special activities, and as a general meeting place. There's a cafe serving meals and coffee just to the right of this photo, with tables and chairs along the large windows overlooking Lake Burley Griffin.

The museum website says of this space:
Visitors enter the Museum through the Hall, a great light and open space with curving walls, windows and ceilings. To the architects, the Hall is like a huge rope knot seen from the inside. It is a metaphor for the strands that tie Australians together as a nation, the weaving together of the lives and stories of Australia and Australians.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Lake cruises

The weather isn't particularly conducive to getting out and taking photos, so here's one from a few years ago. A small wharf on Lake Burley Griffin, on the east side of Acton Peninsula.

This boat, the Electric Launch (EL) Cygnet, was converted from the Steam Launch Jenny to be the first all-electric commercial vessel on the lake. Lake Burley Griffin Cruises runs regular 1 hour cruises on the lake during the warmer months (they're currently closed until September) and they're also available for private charter.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Street lighting

Street light in Evatt. It's not obvious in this photo, but Canberra's lighting is generally designed to minimise the amount of light shining upwards, so you can see the stars (and, at least in some areas, to minimise the light pollution for Mt Stromlo Observatory).

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Foggy start to the day

Yesterday started grey and foggy. This photo was taken overlooking the local preschool, at just after 9am. I quite like fog - everything seems so quiet and muffled.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Lake side

An older photo today, from 2007. Taken on the shore of Lake Burley Griffin, looking from Regatta Point to Commonwealth Avenue Bridge.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Black Mountain Tower

Another view of Black Mountain Tower, this time from the Gungahlin Drive Extension as we drove south (on the opposite side of the mountain to this photo).

[Just wanted to add that I've obviously been playing with this image in Photoshop. I think I might include the original images when I do this in future, just for reference.]

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Shopping at Jammo

The weather may be grey and cold and generally miserable, but you still have to do the grocery shopping, and a hot pink shopping basket makes it a little brighter! We may see more of them, as the ACT has brought in a plastic bag ban (with the exception of the heavier weight bags used, for example, by clothing shops, and the smaller lightweight bags used for fruit and veges). We have a four-month transition period, starting July 1, and the total ban starts on November 1.

Many people already have a stash of the reusable 'green bags' (available in many colours and prints) - it's jsut a matter of remembering to take them with you. The main complaint I've heard about the plastic bag ban is to do with lining your garbage bin, but I'm sure people can figure it out if they try!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011


An Australian magpie, nice and friendly at this time of year, but watch out in spring! That sharp beak swooping towards you can be quite terrifying, as the magpies defend their nests, and it's not just pedestrians who have to watch out - magpies will swoop cyclists, posties and animals - anything they perceive as a threat.
They're smart birds - I've seen one wait for the postman, and swoop him all the way down the street, and another sidling along a branch to position itself right above an unsuspecting person, before dropping a little 'gift' from above.


Along the road the magpies walk
with hands in pockets, left and right.
They tilt their heads, and stroll and talk.
In their well-fitted black and white

they look like certain gentlemen who seem most nonchalant and wise
until their meal is served - and then
what clashing beaks, what greedy eyes!

But not one man that I have heard
throws back his head in such a song
of grace and praise - no man nor bird.
Their greed is brief; their joy is long.
For each is born with such a throat
as thanks his God with every note.

Judith Wright

Monday, July 4, 2011


Spotted this rainbow when I was out a little earlier this afternoon. What you can't see in this photo are the ominous dark clouds on the right, coming through on a cold front that's supposed to bring blizzard conditions over the next few days. This was about 4.15pm, and now, an hour and a half later, it's pitch black outside with sleety flurries, and the wind is making it feel quite a few degrees lower than the actual temperature.

This rainbow is certainly not promising the end of the rain!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Saturday, July 2, 2011


We've had a few cold mornings, but the sunshine on the frost is quite beautiful. The kids are hoping it snows in town this year :)

Click on the photo for a larger image.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Winter walkers

Back to the office after lunch on a mild, sunny winter's day.