Monday, October 31, 2011

Rural Fire Service

There are nine ACT Rural Fire Service Brigades, which protect people and property from fire in the non-suburban areas of Canberra (although they are sometimes called on to fight fires in the suburbs and interstate as well). They also play a significant role in promoting bushfire awareness, which is why one of the Hall units was at a local fete recently.

The RFS involves over 400 volunteers, aged from 12 up. Between 12 and 16 years, members are cadets and not involved in fire-fighting, and then they can become members (with some restrictions) until they're 18. There are also 120 paid fire fighters and 12 headquarters staff. Hall Brigade trains twice a month for two hours, and welcomes enquiries and new members (email

Sunday, October 30, 2011


The type of sculpture that invites people to climb all over it and sit on it. Cushion, 2001, by Matthew Harding, can be found in Garema Place. The pages you can see at the bottom on the photo contain a poem by Australian author Marion Halligan, who is closely associated with Canberra.

If you've been reading this blog for a while, you might remember the Kambah sheep and beetles, and the astronaut footprints - they're Matthew Harding's as well, along with the ACT Memorial, the casuarina pods, the bogong moths near the National Museum, and more.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Fresh Food: Best parking

This is part of the carpark at Westfield Belconnen. Some time over the past couple of months they installed a new system to make finding a parking spot easier. Small LED lights with sensors indicate whether a spot is available (green), available for disabled/parents with prams (blue) or occupied (red). There are also electronic signs at the end of each aisle indicating how many spots are available - no more driving around in circles trying to find one!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Calvary Clinic

Calvary Clinic, located behind Calvary Hospital in Bruce, contains the rooms of various medical specialists, as well as a small cafe that does decent hot chocolate.

I like the repair van in the clinic carpark - it appeals to my sense of humour ;)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Check your smoke alarms

About 8.30pm on Tuesday night, the Fire Brigade responded to several 000 emergency calls about a house fire in McKellar. The occupant got out, but several vehicles in the garage were destroyed, and the house itself has extensive damage. When we drove past yesterday afternoon there were a number of police forensic vehicles parked along the road, and investigators doing their thing.

A good lesson for our kids not to play with matches, and a reminder for everyone to check their smoke alarms.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Lamp post

The style of this lamp post and circular bench seemed to require a sepia touch. Federation Square, Gold Creek.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

David Jones

The David Jones department store main entrance on City Walk.

In 1838, a Welshman by the name of David Jones opened his first shop in Sydney, which had only been established 50 years earlier. David Jones & Co. flourished, but the business failed after Mr Jones retired. So he came back to work and, with new partners and his son to help, successfully re-established the business.

By 1959 there were three stores, and in the 1960s and 1970s David Jones expanded interstate to Queensland, South Australia, Victoria and the ACT. It hasn't all been smooth sailing but today there are 37 DJ's stores, including two in Canberra, as well as an online store.

Monday, October 24, 2011

From the air

Another guest image today, this time from Tracey Best, who took this photo of Parliament House (the 'new' one) from a hot air balloon on Saturday morning. The House of Representatives chamber is under the closer red roof, and the Senate is on the other side of the flagpole. The Ministers' and Prime Minister's offices are in the central area on the left.

The building is 300 metres wide by 300 metres long, cost approximately $1.1 billion, and took nearly eight years to complete. It is designed to last at least 200 years. Like Canberra itself, the design came from an international competition, which attracted 329 entries.

When Parliament is in session, about 3000 people work in this building, which is one of the largest in the Southern hemisphere.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Royalty on the lake

A couple more photos of the Queen's visit from my friend Robyn (thanks Robyn!). These ones were taken on Thursday, as the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh were travelling on the Admiral's Barge from Government House (the residence of the Governor General, and where the Queen stays in Canberra) to a special viewing of Floriade at Commonwealth Park.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

The Queen is in town

If you're in Australia, it's a little difficult to NOT know that Queen Elizabeth II is in town. This is her 16th official visit since her coronation tour in 1954. Her Majesty arrived in Canberra on Wednesday evening, to be greeted by all the usual official guests and two children from each school in the ACT. My friend Robyn's daughter was chosen as one of the two from our school, and Robyn has generously shared her photos of the occasion.

Governor General Quentin Bryce greeting Queen Elizabeth II on arrival.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard, with ACT Chief Minister Katy Gallagher just behind her.

Friday, October 21, 2011


Garema Court is located at the City Walk end of Garema Place in Civic. Shops on the ground level, offices above, and apparently a good view from the top of the building. Photo taken yesterday morning - you can see how the city is starting to green up again with the warmer weather. A few months ago you could have walked around here and been lucky to see two or three other people, but the pedestrian areas of the city are starting to fill up again now.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

No stopping

There's no stopping the mass exodus of public servants from their city offices at lunchtime on such a magnificent Spring day. Although I think someone in a red jumper forgot to check the weather forecast this morning ...

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


DFO (Direct Factory Outlets) is a large shopping centre outside the main are of Fyshwick. They brand themselves as a 'shopping mecca' with leading brands up to 70% off. Personally (and maybe I'm just not a dedicated enough shopper) I find it inconveniently located, full of the same sort of shops you find in every other shopping centre, and with much the same stock - some discounted certainly, but that seems to be older stock, overstocks, and odd sizes. So I'm not a big fan, although many other people are keen on this sort of place.

Apparently there are ten of these centres, all in the eastern states, and they've been in some serious financial difficulties, but they're still operating in Canberra, at least for now. And whatever I think of them, I do like the cloud pattern in this photo!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Dancing on water

In a lily pond in Commonwealth Park, there is a strange flock of birds.They have long steel stilts for legs, and remind me of somewhat raggedy brolgas, although the sculptor - Alan Gauir - hasn't specified what species they are, or given his sculpture a name. He won first prize in the 1991 Floriade sculpture competition, and have remained to keep a beady eye on things.

Monday, October 17, 2011

All I Knead ...

Knead Patisserie just might be my new favourite cafe in Canberra. I had a couple of hours to myself while the children were doing a school holiday cooking class nearby, so I wandered here and ordered an espresso (well, two actually, and they waited until I was ready for the second one so it didn't go cold) and a creme brulee tart (marvellous!). I sat at one of the 'outside' tables (it's all undercover in the central part of the Belconnen Markets, but outside the shop. There are a few small tables inside too, as well as kitchen table - with much more comfortable chairs, but the women there weren't moving) with my book, and watched the steady stream of shoppers heading in through the door, and coming out laden with fresh bread and boxes and paper bags of wonderful pastries. And when the husband returned, I may have gone back for just one more coffee ...

Sunday, October 16, 2011

In the wild

We spotted this spiky little fellow crossing a busy road near Black Mountain on Friday afternoon. With cars whizzing by, he'd somehow managed to make it safely, and by the time we'd pulled over and I'd gone back to see if he was okay he'd waddled across a ditch and was digging his way into the grass on the other side.

This is a short-beaked echidna, and you don't see them very often during the day - they tend to be more active at dusk and dawn. They grow to around 35-45cm long, have dark fur between their spines, and eat ants and termites. Echidnas (together with platypuses) are monotremes - the only egg-laying mammals. The adult's spines are good protection in general, but no match for a car (this is the first time I've seen a live echidna in the wild!), and they also fall prey to feral cats and dogs in urban areas like Canberra.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Floriade 2011: not the flowers

The 35 metre ferris wheel is a great way to see the floral patterns on the ground:

The street organ is at Floriade each year (and the operator takes requests):

Where there are flowers, there are butterflies ...

The reptile display was a big hit. And so were the gnomes:

Friday, October 14, 2011

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


We headed into town today to visit Floriade, a huge celebration of Spring and annual display of floral design in Commonwealth Park. This year we had a special reason to visit: my daughter was involved, together with a team from her school, in helping to plant some of the million + bulbs back in April, although she wasn't quite sure today just which ones were hers!

Floriade has a different theme each year. This year is was a Feast for the Senses, and while at ground level it wasn't always clear what each garden bed represented, from higher up you could see a giant coffee cup, a huge chilli pepper, a decorated cake, flames on a barbecue, and other food-related symbols, all created from tulips, hyacinths, bluebells, ranunculus, irises, violas, pansies, poppies and more.

There was also a Victory Garden, carnival rides, a children's area, plenty of places to eat, and a special area devoted to garden gnomes :)

I'll have more images from Floriade over the next week or so.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Glass cylinder

Back at the Southern Cross Club, Woden yesterday for another free school holiday movie with the kids. Last week I took a photo from inside that glass cylinder. This is the main entrance to the club, which faces across the street to Westfield Woden (previously known as Woden Plaza).

An interesting statistic: Canberra is home to about 347,000 people. Over 85,000 of those are members of the Southern Cross Club - close to a quarter of the total population!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Woden view

View towards Woden from the National Arboretum, taken about two months ago, near the beginning of August.

There are a few interesting contrasts in this photo: evergreen and deciduous trees; native and exotic species; suburbs almost invisible below the trees and a much taller and more visible Town Centre (with one of the most prominent and recognisable tower blocks in Canberra); the predominantly gentle slopes of the urban area and the higher ranges to the south; and the urban and rural areas lying side by side (that's a farm shed about halfway down on the right of the photo).

Other recognisable features in this image include Scrivener Dam (and the end of Lake Burley Griffin) and the bridge crossing it, the Tuggeranong Parkway in the foreground - a major traffic artery between north and south Canberra, the Curtin playing fields in the centre of the photo, Canberra Hospital halfway down on the far left, and barely visible - between the trees on the left, just above the water - glimpses of part of the Government House buildings.