Wednesday, August 31, 2011


Found above the street gutter drains at the ANU campus.

Sullivans Creek runs through the middle of the university grounds, and the willow trees lining it in parts are the reason one of the residential buildings was given the name Toad Hall (in reference to The Wind in the Willows).

Originally named Canberry Creek, and flowing into the Molonglo River (part of which became Lake Burley Griffin, where the creek now empties), its name was changed to Sullivans Creek after the Sullivan family, who owned much of the surrounding land in the late 19th and early 20th century. Parts of the creek are now sealed, and carry stormwater from the urban area out to the lake.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Speaking Australian

Hands up who knew there was such a thing as the Australian National Dictionary Centre? I certainly didn't, but here it is, located on the ANU campus.

According to their website:
The Australian National Dictionary Centre conducts research into Australian English, and provides Oxford University Press with editorial expertise for their Australian dictionaries. It was established in 1988, and is jointly funded by The Australian National University and Oxford University Press Australia.

If you're new to Australian English, you night like to check out Aussie English for Beginners - you'd have to be a stubby short of a six-pack not to!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Open Day

More from the ANU Open Day on Saturday. Gorgeous weather, the pink and white blossoms of ornamental cherries and plums, music, food and plenty to see and do! This is the main student services area, with the student union, food outlets, a pharmacy and plenty more.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Beware the dragon

Yesterday was the annual Tertiary Open Day, when Canberra's five big tertiary institutions hold their coordinated open days. This year I happened to be at the Australian National University, and spotted this fellow when wandering around after my seminar. I did some searching online today, and discovered that the dragon is the mascot of Bruce Hall, one of the student residences on campus, and when I zoomed in on the logo on his friend's shirt, it confirmed that they were promoting the Hall to prospective students.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

In The Tank

Despite the gorgeous end-of-winter day we've had, I spent most of the day in a small windowless lecture theatre at the Australian National University (ANU). I did get a chance to wander around a little a lunchtime and after we'd finished for the day, and I'll bring you some more photos of the university over the coming days.

This building, for obvious reasons, is known as 'The Tank'. It's more properly known as the Haydon-Allen Lecture Theatre. According to the ANU website, the building is named for 'J.F.M. Haydon (1882-1967) [and] Dr L.H. Allen (1879-1964) ... the first lecturers appointed full-time to the teaching staff of Canberra University College. Mr Haydon, who was a Senior Lecturer in Modern Languages, had previously been Professor of that discipline at the Royal Military College, Duntroon, while Dr Allen, Senior Lecturer in English and Latin, had been Professor of English at Duntroon.'

Friday, August 26, 2011

Hall Showgrounds

Just to the north west of Canberra, but still within the ACT border, is the village of Hall. Named after Henry Hall, who settled in the area in 1833 - just seven years after the first European explorers came through. The Hall family actually lived in a homestead in what is currently the suburb of Fraser, and their property was named 'Charnwood' - now the name of another Canberra suburb.

The village was gazetted in 1882, although there had been a hotel since 1864.

Today's photo is looking from Victoria Street across part of the Hall Showgrounds, with the barbecue shed in the background. I don't know how old the shed is, but with it's rough-hewn poles and corrugated iron roof, it would have been typical of early buildings in the area. The local show was held annually at Hall Showgrounds between 1925 and 1964, when it moved to the Exhibition Park in Canberra. Today the grounds are used for various sports, National Sheepdog Trials, functions and the very popular monthly Hall Markets.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Scrivener Dam

Scrivener Dam is what holds back the waters of the Molonglo River to form Lake Burley Griffin. It was closed to start the lake filling in 1963, but because of a drought it took nearly seven months to go from a trickle of water and a few mosquito-breeding ponds to a proper lake, but when the drought eventually broke, it only took a few days to fill.

The dam was named after Charles Robert Scrivener, the surveyor who recommended the site for Canberra in 1909. It wasn't his original choice - we could have been in the Snowy Mountains, and the ACT might have included Australia's highest peak, Mt Kosciusko. Apparently he didn't get on too well with Walter Burley Griffin, the winner of the design competition for Canberra, and Scrivener had the influence to change the design for three connected lakes, at different levels, into the single lake we have today.

The dam itself is 33 metres high and 319 metres long. It holds back 33 million cubic metres of water, in a lake with a 40.5km shoreline. It was built to withstand a 5000 year flood event, and the flood gates are tested every three months. If you're interested, there's more information on a fact sheet from the National Capital Authority.

In the background is part of the National Arboretum, and on the far side of the dam, to the left, is the National Zoo and Aquarium.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

CIT sculpture

I was over at the CIT (Canberra Institute of Technology) campus in the suburb of Bruce yesterday, and came across this sculpture in the courtyard enclosed by A, B, C and J blocks. I haven't yet been able to find out who designed and made it, or even its name (if it has one), but I like how it's set amongst native trees and bushes, almost as if it's old machinery, adandoned to rust and be absorbed back into the earth.

Monday, August 22, 2011

There's a lot of construction going on around town, and much of it is in the most northern area of Canberra - Gungahlin. Some brand new just-moved-into suburbs, some still under construction, and some just starting out. This photo was taken from Horse Park Drive, heading back into Gungahlin. I think it's part of the suburb of Harrison, but I'm afraid I've lost track of which new suburbs are where, exactly!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Spring is around the corner

Canberra is looking decidedly golden at the moment. The wattle is in bloom, and it's not until August-September that you realise just how much of it lines our roads and fills our suburbs. Spring is on the way, and the wattle is its herald ...

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Bring back the shops

Not the sort of images that make it onto Canberra's promotional materials, but interesting nonetheless. This photo was taken at Giralang shops, a local centre that was pretty much shut down seven years ago. The site has one owner, and there have been various plans to redevelop the site, either as shops, as apartments, or as a combination of the two. There have been objections, some from local residents, but mostly, it appears, from retail competitors in neighbouring areas, who were concerned about the possible inclusion of a larger supermarket such as Woolworths (there are specific size limits for supermarkets in local shopping centres).

According to the Canberra Times:
The approved proposal allows the centre's owners, the Nikias family, to develop a much smaller 1500sqm supermarket, which is more likely to attract an IGA or ALDI supermarket as its tenant.

The Planning Minister also approved four specialty shops at Giralang, a cafe, a restaurant, 100 underground car-parking spaces and more than 70 surface car-parking spaces.

It will be interesting to see the changes here over the coming months.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Roof terrace

If you keep walking straight ahead from yesterday's photo, you come to footbridge crossing Parkes Way. This is the view from the middle of the bridge looking back towards the city, with The Forum being the first building. From here you can see the umbrellas on the roof terrace. If you turn around and keep walking, you'll cross over to Commonwealth Park - in a month or so, watch out for photos of Floriade from this park.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Don't feed the prisoners!

Looking along the pathway/colonnade in front of The Forum Apartments in Allara Street, Civic. The entrance featured yesterday is the indentation about where the person in black is walking.

The people upstairs get balconies and terraces; the people at ground level get these ... ummm ... cells. I can't imagine it would be terribly nice to sit out here behind bars, looking across to the Olympic Pool carpark, but a number of these little 'courtyards' have outdoor tables and chairs for just that purpose.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Forum (Canberra, not Rome)

This is the entrance to an apartment building on Allara St, just across from the Canberra Olympic Pool. Completed in 2002 at a cost of $40 million, it contains 117 one and two bedroom apartments, some single level, some loft-style on two levels, and some over three levels. There's a gymnasium and a rooftop terrace for the use of residents, and at least one of the apartments has a rabbit. Presumably the rabbit doesn't belong to the apartment you can rent for your next stay in Canberra ...

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Canberra Times Fountain

The Canberra Times Fountain by Robert Woodward, at the intersection of Ainslie Avenue and City Walk.

The fountain was commissioned by Federal Capital Press as a gift to the people of Canberra on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of The Canberra Times newspaper. Installed in 1979, and standing nearly 5 metres tall, the fountain is made of tube and rod fabricated stainless steed.

The designer, Bob Woodward, is probably more well known for the El Alamein Memorial Fountain in Kings Cross, Sydney, but he was also an architect and an athlete (he was a hurdler in the 1950 British Empire Games in Auckland, NZ). He died in February last year.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Dream house

If we ever move out to the country, this is the kind of house I'd be looking for.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Waiting for the train

We went south to the village of Michelago today. It's 50km or so south of Canberra, just off the Monaro Highway. Once it was a busy town, but now it's quite small and without many of the services it used to have. Maybe that will change though, as it's cheaper to buy property there than Canberra, and it's within commuting distance to both Canberra and Queanbeyan.

You'd be waiting a while for the train at this station though. Opened in 1887, this branch line was eventually extended to Cooma in 1889 and Bombala in 1921, but in 1887, if you wanted to go to Cooma, you got off the train at the terminus here and boarded a stage coach for the rest of the journey. The branch line was closed in 1989, but opened as a limited heritage railway from 1993 until 1997, when the line was washed out near Royalla. However, there is a campaign to repair and reopen the line - if you're interested, there's a petition and more information here.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Akuna Street

Akuna Street, Civic, looking east from City Walk. That's Mount Ainslie in the distance, and the high-rise in the centre is the 15-storey SAP House. SAP (an international IT company) only occupies part of the building - the rest is occupied by various tenants including government departments and a real estate agent.

I rather like the effort someone has gone to, putting the orange witches' hat/traffic cone on the lamppost on the right ...

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Chit Chat

Chit Chat [Philip Spelman. 2005. Fabricated steel]

In front of the AusAID office, shown yesterday, is another Philip Spelman sculpture. According to the sculptor:
"Bright colours are essential to draw viewers' eyes to my works across long distances - whether they're in the city or in the landscape. And it gets them photographed too; though it wasn't that great during the last election in Canberra to see television ads from the Opposition (to Chief Minister Jon Stanhope) showing my sculpture with the slogan: "He's closing schools - but buying art'!"

Canberra has two bright red Spelman sculptures (this one and another further along London Circuit) and a blue one next to the Convention Centre, and they certainly do draw the eye!

This sculpture, Chit Chat, was acquired by the Koundouris Group and CRT Group as part of their arts support program in 2007, according to the plaque. Philip Spelman has said that these large scale works take 300 to 400 hours of work over about six months to complete, so he has a 'day job' as well - he is the Technical Officer in the Glass Workshop of the Australian National University's School of Art.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Millennium goals

AusAID is the Australian Agency for International Development, a government agency which manages Australia's overseas aid program. The program started in 1946 with aid to Papua New Guinea, but it wasn't until 1974 that the roles of various departments were brought together into one agency.

These are the windows of the head office of AusAID, on London Circuit in Civic. The bright coloured icons represent the Millennium Development Goals - agreed targets set by the world's nations to reduce poverty by 2015 - which underpin Australia's aid program.

Simple drawing of a bowl of steaming food, representing MDG1

Eradicate extreme hunger and poverty

Simple drawing of a pencil, representing MDG2

Achieve universal primary education

Simple drawing of the symbol for women, a circle with a cross at the base, representing MDG3

Promote gender equality and empower women

Simple drawing of a child's teddy bear, representing MDG4

Reduce child mortality

Simple drawing of a pregnant woman, representing MDG5

Improve maternal health

Simple drawing of a bottle of medicine with cross, representing MDG6

Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases

Simple drawing of a plant with leaves or petals, representing MDG7

Ensure environmental sustainability

Simple drawing of a group of people, representing MDG8

Develop a global partnership for development

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Flashing in the city

Wind sculpture [Ernst Fries, 1981]

This is a kinetic sculpture with stainless steel blades that catch the wind and rotate, creating flashes of light and shadow. I rather like the contrast of the long grasses around it against the hard steel surfaces.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Faces to the sun

Late afternoon winter sunlight on buildings on Constitution Avenue, Civic.

Sunday, August 7, 2011


Ethos [Tom Bass. 1961. Copper.]

Ethos stands outside the ACT Legislative Assembly, facing onto Civic Square. This sculpture was commissioned in 1959 and unveiled in 1961, the first work in an extensive program of public artworks by the National Capital Development Commission. The total cost of 7580 pounds was in part funded by the sale of miniatures of the sculpture, sold for 52 pounds 10 shillings each.

The four metre tall winged female figure wears a gown covered in human figures representing the community of Canberra. The sun she holds is a symbol of culture and enlightenment, and the hexagonal saucer she stands in represents the plan for Canberra and its nickname of 'Frosty Hollow'.

Near the base of the sculpture, a plaque is set into the paving stones with a poem written by the sculptor, Tom Bass, to mark the 90th anniversary of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom in 2005:

Ethos Speaks

I am Ethos
and though I do not
speak with words
I speak to you
in other ways.

I say to you that
I am the spirit
of this place
and this people.

I am
the original spirit
and the spirit of now.

I rise from the Earth
and reach for the Sun.

I bring together
the old and new.

In me there is
no violence or war
only peace
and reconciliation

I am the love
peace and beauty
of this place.

I give you
these things
every day
and always.

Tom Bass was a very prominent sculptor in the 1950s and 60s, and examples of his work are found all over Australia. He died in February last year, aged 93.