Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Canary Island date palms

I mentioned the Canary Island date palms in Margaret Timpson Park a week or so ago, and here's a better view of them. You can also see one of the grass pyramids on the right. The pyramids are a bit odd - they don't seem to relate to anything in particular, but children like running up them and rolling back down again!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Leafy Charnwood

This is Charnwood Shops, one of the local shopping centres, but perhaps a little larger than most. Charnwood is named after a property established in the area in 1833, which in turn was named for the Forest of Charnwood in England. The suburb was gazetted in 1973.

The following information about the suburb is taken from Wikipedia:
Charnwood's design was based on the Radburn town planning principle. Under this design, houses were to face common parkland, with the suburb's streets servicing garages situated at the rear of the houses. The design failed in its application, however, as home owners built fences around the "park side" of their blocks, effectively screening the houses away from the common parkland. This created long, narrow, fenced walkways, with poor lighting and no neighbourhood surveillance. The network of pathways ensures that it is possible to walk from any point in the suburb to any other without directly crossing a road; pedestrian bridges can be used to cross the few major streets within the suburb.

Interestingly, the planning design wasn't very successful in Radburn (New Jersey), which was established in 1929. Nor did it work well in other places where it was copied, and those places have developed a reputation as less-than-desirable places to live. Yet 40-odd years later it was tried in Canberra, and - surprise surprise - it hasn't worked here either. It's a shame, because the theory is lovely - houses facing onto common parks, while cars, garages and other utilities are confined to the back near the streets.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Kambah's been bugged!

Kambah Village Shopping Centre has a number of sculptural elements, apart from the sheep grazing out near the road. The sheep, the granite dung beetle in the centre, and the poles are all the work of Matthew Harding, who is responsible for what I think is some of the most fun public art in Canberra. I'm not sure if he also did the bronze beetle in the foreground, but I like that too!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Play time

Plenty of children out enjoying the sunshine at this playground in Kippax. It's right next to the library and shops, and gives the kids a chance to burn off some energy before enduring grocery shopping with mum or dad. 

Friday, May 27, 2011

Late autumn colour

Winter may only be a few days away, but there's still plenty of bright autumn colour in Canberra. This is a small lane - not much more than a shared driveway - off Morell Close, Belconnen. It's part of the 'Magnolia' development (the apartments nearby are called 'Jarrah' and 'Hakea'). The hedge on the right marks the rear boundary of the houses in the next lane across, and the large concrete structures on the left are part of the townhouses accessed from this lane.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Now you see it ...

Just an ordinary suburban auto repairer and auto electrician. They've been there for years, just across from the service station (to the left of this photo), and always seem busy. But they're on the way out. 7-eleven has bought the property, and apparently it's being turned into a big convenience store, and there'll be no room for these guys. Bit sad to see these smaller operators pushed out by big corporations. There will probably be a significant impact on the small supermarket in the shops next door, and perhaps also the bakery as well.

Yes, many of these small local shops need a facelift, but a big shiny convenience store? No thanks.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Hop to it!

It's not uncommon to see mobs of kangaroos in the paddocks around and the green corridors within Canberra, although with the recent rain they're a little less likely to be close to the roads. But we still see (or sometimes smell!) too many dead roos on the roadside.

These are grey kangaroos - the most common type around here. In 2008, a Canberra Times article stated that "an annual average of 950 accidents involving kangaroos that are serious enough to warrant police attendance", and two of the major car insurers said they had processed 1200 kangaroo-related claims in the past year (and then there are other insurers, people who don't claim for minor damage, and people who are uninsured).

So if you're driving around Canberra, especially between 5pm and 10pm, in winter, around a full moon, and after a dry spell, stay alert for roos!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Meet Brian and Dave

We needed to restock on fruit and a few other foodstuffs this morning, so popped into Belconnen Markets to see what was open. Most of the market shops operate Wednesday to Sunday, but some were busy preparing for the week today, and were happy for us to buy whatever new produce had been unpacked already.

Market Gourmet had the shutters open, and Dave (on the right) called out as we passed, practising his sales technique. He was busy butchering lamb, and explained a bit about what he was doing while he worked. We wandered off to buy the fruit, then came back to buy lamb and chicken on the way out. Dave was happy to trim and dice the lamb for us while we waited, meanwhile keeping up a steady stream of banter with his colleague Brian about everything from meat to childhood memories to the Playstation Call of Duty: Black Ops game.

Worth a visit for the comedy duo alone :)

Market Gourmet
Ph.  02 6251 9002
Shops 24 & 25 (behind Food Lovers)
Belconnen Fresh Food Markets
Lathlain Street, Belconnen

Monday, May 23, 2011

Colour on the hill

Driving north along the Tuggeranong Parkway yesterday, my eye was caught by this mass of red and yellow. It's part of the National Arboretum - a long term work in progress.

It was overcast and glary, hence the lack of colour in the sky, and I didn't have much of chance to take photos at 100 kilometres an hour (no - I wasn't driving!), but I'm going to try to arrange a visit to the site one Sunday soon (it's closed to the public Monday to Saturday because it's still under construction).

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Sheep in the city

We were in the southern suburbs of Canberra today, and spotted a small flock of sheep grazing on the grassy slope leading up to the Kambah Village Shopping Centre. This is another of the Group Centres, and includes a large supermarket, a hotel, and numerous smaller shops.

Kambah derives from the same Aboriginal word as Canberra: Ngambri or Kamberri, the name of the group of people who lived here before European settlement. It was named after Kambah Homestead, a property which was farmed from 1875 until 1970 (and which was originally known as Sulwood until the turn of the century). All that's left of the station now is Kambah Woolshed.

Kambah is the largest suburb in Canberra, and was the first suburb established in the Tuggeranong satellite 'Town', in 1973-1974. I think the sheep (the ones pictured, not the real ones) arrived about 2001 or so, but I haven't been able to find out anything about who made them. Apparently they get dressed up for special occasions like Christmas and Australia Day!

Saturday, May 21, 2011


Still in Margaret Timpson Park, Belconnen.

The park was designed with a formal layout, and this photo is looking along the main axis. Behind me, across the road, is the entrance to Belconnen Mall (not necessarily the most used entrance, but the biggest one visually, with a large 'Westfield' sign above it). Past the park, the path goes between two office buildings, and further up the hill is the Belconnen Public Library. I find it interesting that the library (learning/knowledge) is higher than the shopping centre (commerce), with offices (bureaucracy/administration) and the park (recreation) in between, but somehow I doubt that was intentional.

Beyond the blue shade covering in the centre of the picture are some Canary Island date palms. Six of these trees were planted - three on either side of the path. They're quite an unusual tree for Canberra - no idea why they were chosen, unless it was for their regular shape, to add to the formal design of the park.

To the left and right of the photo are two grass pyramids. The government website says they "have been added as sculptural elements and these may be planted with flowers at selected times of the year", although I've never seen anything other than grass on them.

The Canberra Rose refers to the flower chosen for the ACT as its Centenary of Federation flower. The flowers for the other States and Territories are listed here.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Lunch in the park

Lunchtime in Margaret Timpson Park, Belconnen. Caught this man while he was taking his lunch break in the park, and soaking up the meagre amount of sunshine available.

I think the seats were repainted recently - can you see what gave me the clue?

Thursday, May 19, 2011


Tumbling Cubes [Bert Flugelman. 1978. Stainless steel]

This is a sculpture in Margaret Timpson Park, Belconnen, called Tumbling Cubes. The artist, Herbert (Bert) Flugelman was born in Vienna in 1923, and migrated to Australia at the age of 15. He has a number of recognisably similar sculptures throughout Australia, including Cones at the National Gallery of Australia, Pyramid Tower in Spring Street, Sydney (previously installed in Martin Place, and also known as the Silver Shish Kebab), and Spheres in Rundle Mall, Adelaide (also known as the Mall's Balls).

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

What a load of rubbish!

Today we went to the tip with a trailer-load of rubbish. This shed is the tipping floor at Mitchell Resource Management Centre. You back your car or trailer or truck up to the edge (where I'm standing), and unload into the pit, where workers retrieve anything recyclable or saleable, before the rest is pushed down towards the back wall. Trucks pick up the waste from under the chute, and take it to landfill.

Recyclables (including paper, metal, wood, paints, oil, whitegoods and car batteries) are separated for processing. Most of them are sent interstate for recycling.

In Canberra, we have two types of household bins: general waste (with a green lid, collected weekly from the roadside in front of your house) and recycling (cans, bottles, papers etc., with a yellow lid, collected fortnightly in the same way). Any larger items, or garden waste, you dispose of yourself - you can pay someone to take it away, or you can load up the trailer or car or ute and take it to the tip (for a fee) or the green waste depot (some are free, some have a fee) yourself.

Canberra generated over 800 000 tonnes of waste in the 2009-2010 year. Almost 588 000 tonnes (72%) of that waste is listed as 'resource recovery', which means it could be recycled or reused in some way.

Domestically we do a bit better: 85% of standard household recyclables (paper, plastic, glass and metals) and over 90% of green waste were recycled in the same timeframe.

But it's still a load of garbage!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Flying the flag

I realised there was one particularly glaring omission from this blog to date: a photograph of Parliament House. I haven't had the opportunity to get over there recently, so this image is a few years old and taken by my brother on a visit.

Parliament House is built on and into the summit of Capital Hill, and this massive flagmast surmounts the whole structure. The mast is 80 metres high, and the flag itself is about half the size of a tennis court (12.8m x 6.4m) and weighs 15kg. The flagpole is made of polished stainless steel, and our family has a particular connection to it, as my father (who has qualifications in metallurgy, among other things) advised on the type of steel to be used.

Parliament House
Capital Hill, Canberra
Phone: (02) 6277 7111
Open 9.00am-5.00pm (8.30am-5.00pm on sitting days), except Christmas Day.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Joynton Smith Drive, Belconnen

These trees decorate a concrete wall along Joynton Smith Drive in Belconnen. The building behind it is part of the Benjamin Offices, which houses various government departments - I think the Department of Immigration and Citizenship might be in this one.

Joynton Smith Drive is named after Sir James John Joynton Smith, who was Lord Mayor of Sydney in 1918 (Belconnen streets are named after Mayors and Lord Mayors). I have to admit I'd never heard of him - this blog is good for my education! - but he sounds like an interesting character. He was born in England, signed on as a cabin boy on a ship when he was about 15, ended up New Zealand and eventually became a hotelier and got married to a local girl. He went to England, on his own, and gambled away his savings. On his return to NZ, he gave up gambling, and moved to Sydney, Australia, in about 1890. He owned hotels, invested in various Blue Mountains properties to take advantage of the area's tourist potential, and was heavily involved in sports, including horse and dog racing and football, before embarking on a political career.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Autumn afternoon by the river

Down by the Murrumbidgee River at Uriarra Crossing.

There are some beautiful picnic areas around here, not far out of the suburbs, where you can let the kids and the dogs go for a run. We were there with friends today, along with a few other groups of picnickers dotted around the grass, all enjoying the late autumn sunshine.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Do you feel like you're being watched?

Owl [Bruce Armstrong. 2011. Fibreglass and hardwood]

Not a great photo of it, but I thought I'd run with this one because it's Canberra's latest large-scale public artwork: a giant owl, 8 metres high, and costing $400 000, unveiled on Thursday by our outgoing Chief Minister, Jon Stanhope, at the intersection of Belconnen Way and Bejamin Way in Belconnen.

The sculptor, Bruce Armstrong from Melbourne, said he chose an owl because it is traditionally linked to wisdom, and a group of owls is known as a parliament. ''The owl watches quietly over his domain like a guardian spirit or totem,'' he said.He based the sculpture on Australia's largest owl, the Powerful Owl, although commenters have suggested it bears a resemblance to other things ...

Friday, May 13, 2011

Heading home

This is Ballumbir Street, Civic. Or Braddon. Or maybe it's Cooyong Street. I don't think it's Corranderk Street at this point. They all kind of run into one another, and at one stage it was all set to became Cooyong (maybe not the Coranderrk bit), but I think that this part is currently Ballumbir. Confused? Not that it matters to the drivers heading for home at 5.30pm on this autumn evening.

Ballumbir is an Aboriginal word meaning butterfly. Cooyong is bandicoot, and Coranderrk is Christmas bush.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Civic merry-go-round

The merry-go-round, or carousel, located at the intersection of City Walk and Petrie Plaza in Civic is nearly a century old. Built in Melbourne in 1914/15, it first went into operation on St Kilda Esplanade in 1915. It was commissioned by a German showman, but it appears that anti-German sentiment in World War I forced its early sale, and from there it changed hands several times until being purchased by the Federal Government in 1973.

After relocation to Canberra and extensive restoration, the merry-go-round was opened in 1974. A canopy was built over it to protect it, and there are now metal grills to close it off when not in use (presumably to protect it from vandalism). The original pipe organ, imported from Germany, is in storage. There are 52 hand-carved horses and two elephant carriages (also imported from Germany), and most of the animals have names.

It was getting late and the merry-go-round was closed when I was there, but I'll try to get back and get a photo if it in action some time.

Petrie Plaza, Civic
Ph. 0412 482 676
Open Monday-Thursday 10am-5pm, Friday 10am-9pm, Saturday 9.30am-4pm, Sunday 11am-4pm, public holidays 11am-3pm

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Melba shops on a Tuesday night

Each of Canberra's local shopping centres has its own character. Often they are built on two or three sides of a central carpark, but Melba's has a small piazza-type space, with deciduous trees for summer shade.

This image was taken last night, a little after 8pm. There weren't many people around, although the Indian restaurant (on the left), the takeaway (brightly lit in the centre), the small supermarket (further round to the right) and the Chinese restaurant (Fortune Cookie, where we had dinner) were all still open.

The sculpture on the far left is inspired by Dame Nellie Melba, after whom the suburb is named. Born Helen Porter Mitchell in 1861, she took the stage name Melba. 'Melba' is a contraction of Melbourne, the city where she was born. She became famous as an opera singer in Europe, England, Australia and North America, and returned to tour Australia (including quite remote country towns - she thought all Australians should have the chance to hear 'the Voice') several times to great acclaim. She led a very unorthodox life for a girl from the Melbourne suburbs, and her life story makes interesting reading.

Harmonies [Jennifer Jones & Philip Nizette, 2008]

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Black swans

Black swans on Lake Ginninderra.

Black swans are native to Australia, and European explorers and settlers were quite astonished when they first saw them, being used to the white swans of home. The breeding season in the south of Australia is from June to September, so the cygnet in this photo (taken in April) would probably be between seven and 10 months old - still quite grey and fluffy, but almost as big as the parent in the foreground. 

The black swan is featured on Canberra's Coat of Arms, representing Australia in its native state. According to the designer, he originally wanted to include two black swans as supporters in the coat of arms, but this device had already been granted to Perth in Western Australia, so one of them was changed to a white swan, representing European settlement.

If you want to feed the swans, please don't feed them bread! Bread attracts pest birds like starlings and mynas, doesn't have the nutrients required for healthy birds, and has additives that aren't good for them. Try taking along some lettuce, spinach or silverbeet instead.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Waiting patiently

Evatt Newsagency, Saturday afternoon. The woman he's waiting for is inside - perhaps she was buying a newspaper, a magazine with pictures of the Royal Wedding, or a Mothers' Day card for the following day. I'll never know - we were gone before she emerged.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Saturday sports

On Saturday mornings all over Canberra, teams of children are meeting on sporting fields. This photo was taken in May 2007, when my daughter was five years old and the only girl in her rugby union team (you'll have to indulge me - it's Mother's Day!). There were some very cold mornings for parents and grandparents, cheering from the sidelines!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Back doors

Still in Tocumwal Lane in Civic. It was starting to get darker, and the lights were starting to come on. This is the service area behind the shops and offices of the block bounded by Petrie Plaza, City Walk, Garema Place and Bunda Street. Cars and vans, bins, exposed pipes, back doors, air conditioning units, discarded furniture - all the stuff you don't want your customers to see. And Batman. He's on the back wall of Impact Comics.

Not a great quality image - sorry about that - but the only one I have up closer.

Friday, May 6, 2011


Who would have thought a little lane in the city would be so interesting? This volcano mural is on the wall opposite the motorcycle parking in Tocumwal Lane, Civic, featured on Wednesday, and to the left of yesterday's image.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Wall art

The other side of Tocumwal Lane. I have no idea what it says, but I like it as an image. Notice how the only graffiti tagging on the whole wall is on the parking signs.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Scooters in the city

I was wandering around in Civic (the city centre) yesterday and spotted this brightly painted wall and line-up of motor scooters. Scooters (and bigger motorcycles as well) have become more popular as petrol and parking prices rise. Tocumwal Lane, off Petrie Plaza, allows motorcycle parking only (free), and leads into a carpark/service area in the centre of a block of buildings.

To ride any sort of motorcycle in Canberra, you need to complete a 10 hour pre-learner's course, and if you don't already have an ACT driver's licence you also need to complete a Road Ready Course and a Road Rules Knowledge test. Once all that is in order you can obtain a learner's permit (L plates), which you hold for at least three months (and up to two years) before you can have your riding skills assessed and (hopefully) obtain a provisional licence. The provisional licence (P plates) applies for one to three years before you qualify for a full motorcycle licence. So the owner of the red scooter is somewhere in the early stages of the process.

Both sides of Tocumwal Lane are covered in really colourful graffiti-style paintings. Not only do they brighten the place up, they tend to keep the 'real' graffiti levels down. I'll show the other wall tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

9pm in Evatt

There's not a lot happening in Evatt at 9pm on a Monday night. It's quiet and dark, and most people are at home. Maybe they're watching a movie from the local video shop - nothing else is open at this time.

Evatt Shops is one of the small local shopping centres. It has an IGA supermarket, a takeaway, a newsagency, a hairdresser, a butcher, a bakery, a pharmacy and the video shop. The suburb is named after H V Evatt, a Labor politician, High Court judge, author, and he also played a significant role in the founding of the United Nations. In fact, he was President of the UN General Assembly in 1948-49 and his achievements include helping draft the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights and involvement in the negotiations which resulted in the state of Israel.

Monday, May 2, 2011


Bomber Command [Neil Dawson, 2005, stainless steel, glass and granite]

One more image from the Australian War Memorial. Bomber Command is a sculpture by Neil Dawson. Made of stainless steel, glass and granite, it was acquired by commission in 2005. This is a World War II Royal Australian Air Force memorial - the 16.5 metre column represents a searchlight reaching into the sky. Neil Dawson is the same artist responsible for Diamonds at the National Gallery of Australia.

Sunday, May 1, 2011


Dancers on a Lakefront [Konstantin Dimopoulos, 2010,
high performance composite rods]

The Belconnen Arts Centre, opened in August 2009, sits in a prominent position on the edge of Lake Gininderra, across the road from Westfield Belconnen. It's hard to miss with this bright yellow kinetic sculpture out the front, especially at night. There are seven groups of rods, each between five and seven metres tall, that move in the wind.

According to the artist:
In this instance the water, the architecture of the building and the vertical lines echoed in the fabric of the building, suggest a celebration of movement. The sculpture develops this theme and is like a ballet in which these lines of different characters have their own part, choreographed and moved gently by the wind. Like music in dance, wind is the critical element in this production, shaping and forming with its influence.

Belconnen Arts Centre
118 Emu Bank, Belconnen
Open Tuesday–Sunday 10:00am–5:00pm