October 29, 2017

Visit to Calthorpes’ House

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This weekend I did a quick Google search of things to do in Canberra and a place I never knew existed came up on the results: Calthorpes’ House. I saw it was about a 17 minute drive from the north side so off I set. Soon I was driving past pretty green fields under the sun and the bright blue sky. Signs started appearing, directing me to Calthorpes’ House, which is a historical house in Red Hill on the south side of Canberra. I came in on a looped red gravel driveway and drove past an impressive and large Mediterranean styled house with a lot of redness in its colouring and a bright garden full of colourful blooms.

I parked the car in the little car park by some hedges at he bottom of the garden and made my way up to the house. There were pretty little green hedges which contrasted nicely with the red gravel underfoot. Soon I had walked up the little hill and was by the front door. I saw a sign which read to meet at the garage at the back of the house for the next guided tour. I made my way to the garage, up the red gravel driveway, had a peak at the orchard out the back and entered the garage. A lady greeted me and told me the next tour was in about 10 minutes but that she could give me a talk about the history of the place in the mean time.

I paid my $7 admission and she told me all about the history of the house, the family that had lived there, that they had two cars and the two daughters went to a private school: Girls Grammar-which is just down the road. She told me that when the family moved in, the street the house is on, Mugga Way, was an affluent street in Red Hill. She said that the surrounding landscape was a sheep paddock and that the next town over was Queanbeyan. Then it was time for my tour so I set off down the garden path along the side of the house and was soon back by the front door. I rang the doorbell and put the blue covers over my shoes.

A man answered the door and ushered me inside past the netted curtains. I stood in a grand reception room with wood panelling on the walls and ornaments on a little ledge under the ceiling all the way around the room-apparently they were trophies from a keen and skillful bridge player-who was the lady of the house. The man took me through all of the different rooms of the house, which still had their original lighting. Even the maid’s bell in the kitchen was still working and he rang it to show me!

The man showed me how the kitchen connected to the dining room and how food could be passed through a little window which I thought was very handy! He also showed me that the kitchen connected to the outside of the house so food could be delivered to a back door. I looked inside bedrooms, at old hairbrushes, ornaments, toys and mirrors. I marvelled at the cosy living room with the piano, comfortable sofas and open fire place. It had heavy green curtains with netted ones underneath. Then it was time for my tour to end so I exited through the front door, had a last wander through the garden and set off home!

September 29, 2017

Sapphire Coast Getaway

I have recently returned from a few days on the beautiful unspoilt Sapphire Coast of New South Wales-approximately 2.5 hours drive from Canberra where I live. Being a teacher, I have the added perk of school holidays so I thought why not? I packed my bodyboard, fins, suitcase, esky, two bags of food, hat and sunscreen with some swimmers and set off on the open road. I climbed over Clyde Mountain, yelled out “Cabbage Tree Creek “when I approached it (a favourite past time on trips to the coast as a child and whenever my parents visit me from Queensland down south.)

Soon I had passed the summit of the mountain and Pooh Bear’s cave and saw the beloved first glimpse of the ocean on the horizon with the thought “I see the sea” (something my dad always said when we passed this spot-he however now lives on the Gold Coast and is 20 minutes from the sea so he doesn’t get as excited about it as when he lived in Canberra which is much more inland. Then I passed a sign for Bateman’s Bay along with its population number, crossed the iron Bateman’s Bay Bridge dotted with boats with the islands out to sea and stayed on the highway until I reached the turnoff for Broulee. I took the turnoff and drove through the quaint seaside village, past my favourite pizza shop just across the road from the beach, over the bridge and to my fvavourite Mossy Point cafe’ where I enjoyed a large mocha.

After that I walked down to the public jetty and took some photos of the blue water lapping gently against the shore. The wind unfortunately was a bit strong and blew my blue and white hat I’d bought from Port Douglas in far north Queensland into the water! I found a part of the jetty near the water level and dropped down into the sand, trying my best to avoid the inevitable purple and white oysters which were lurking beneath the surface-I like to eat them not tread on them! I retrieved my now dripping hat and yanked it back on my head. The two people who were also on the wharf didn’t even laugh!

Then I walked back to the cafe’ and bought some hot chips with chicken salt as the pizza place was closed. I enjoyed the chips on Broulee Beach, where I also sunbaked and read my book. I then went for a bodyboard with my fins and caught some waves into shore. After that I headed back along the highway to a town called Narooma which was about 40 minutes away. I checked into the caravan park there-I had treated myself to a nice cabin with a glimmer of an ocean view. I dropped off my things and headed for the beach by the surf club. I went for a swim and read my book for a while (I do this quite a lot) before heading back to the cabin, having a shower, getting changed and going out for dinner at a place advertised as having a “million dollar view” (it truly does): O’brien’s Hotel.

I had a roosta boosta pizza and a glass of Pinot Grigio (a wine a friend of mind introduced me to and which I now love.) The next day I slept in, had breakfast at the cabin and a large mocha at a quaint little cafe’ my brother and his wife had visited when they came to the coast from Queensland for Christmas. It had wooden whale painted table numbers and had a wonderful view down through the town, with the ocean in the background glimmering serenely in the spring sunshine. After my mocha I did a spot of shopping-buying a couple of summer dresses and some pretty scented soaps. Then I went to the kinema (that’s what it’s called there) and bought a ticket to a romantic comedy later that afternoon called Everything Everthing-a love story between two young people-one of which supposedly cannot go outside as she is allergic to everything and could die.

It had beautiful scenery of Hawaii in the film-a place I would very much like to visit one day and of which my dad has fond memories. After the film, I headed out for dinner to the Narooma Golf Club-probably in the best location for a golf club ever invented-with a beautiful view all the way across the headland and green golf course to the lighthouse perched atop Montague Island a few kilometres out to sea. I had a glass of Sauvignon Blanc this time (Pinot Grigio was only available by the bottle and I wasn’t going to drink a whole bottle now was I?) I also had an entree’ of half a dozen natural local oysters and a pumpkin tart with blue cheese sauce which was absolutely delicious.

The next day I followed the path winding its way past the caravan park, across the bridge over Wagonga Inlet and all the way to the breakwall (where apparently seals often bask in the sun), a netted swimming area and another beach. I made my way to the other beach, sunbaked and read my book before heading down the length of the beach on a serene walk with the sea breeze in my hair, the sand under my toes and the roar of the ocean in my ears. I explored the rocks at the end of the beach-waves crashed over some of them.

Then I saw a figure on some wooden stairs leading up the headland. I walked up the stairs too and found myself atop the headland and overlooking an adjacent beach. Then I walked back along the beach, boardwalk and path to the cabin and had lunch there. After that I headed across the road to the Visitor Information Centre as I had seen online that they had a Lighthouse Museum inside the building. It was free! I read about the history of the lighthouse and the lighthouse keeper families on Montague Island and learned that the light in the display original lighthouse from the island actually came from a similar lighthouse in Green Cape in Eden further along the NSW coastline before you hit Victoria (I have visited this lighthouse on my Eden adventure.) You could put a dollar into a machine and put you hand on a hand print and the lighthouse on display would light up, rotate and tell you information about itself. It said all moneys went to the keeping of the museum which is run by volunteers.

After looking at the information centre, I passed two mermaid dolls on the bench outside and headed for a swim at the Narooma Pool-a pool I had often visited with my mother and brothers as a little girl and which used to have mats you could float on. I did some laps there and then had a shower back at the cabin, got changed and headed to the  beach near the surf club where I went for a sunset walk. I did try to find a path leading up to the graveyard on the headland overlooking the beach but couldn’t find one.

I googled the address of the graveyard on my phone and used my GPS to find my way there in my car. I drove past the industrial area of town and down a narrow street shrouded with trees-like a kind of darkening green tunnel. Then I was at the graveyard. It had a great view of the beach at sunset and the moon which was now out so I took some nice photos. I did find it eerie being there alone and it almost being dark though so I didn’t stay long. I drove to a Chinese takeaway restaurant and bought some food and went to BWS and bought two bottles of Pinot Grigio (on special.) Then I watched Indian Summers on my laptop back at the cabin on a DVD boxset I had got from a library in Canberra.

The next day I checked out of the caravan park before 10AM (as required) and headed to a favourite spot of mine-the town of Bermagui. Bermagui was about 30 minutes further along the coast than Narooma and I call it “Bermi” for short now (I’m not sure if the locals do but maybe?) I drove the the Blue Pool-two concrete pools built into the seacliff and surrounding rocks which are filled with sea water. I dipped my feet in as it was a bit windy and the water was rather cold (I was a wuss.) I resorted to reading my book on the headland with chips and chocolate (I’m on holidays) instead before driving back into town and parked outside a  nice cafe’ just across the road from the beach.

I ordered a large cappuccino followed by a glass of Sauvignon Blanc and a lunch of a chicken Turkish bread toasted sandwich with salad. I enjoyed this feast with my book in the sunshine gazing at the ocean before me. Then I headed across the road to the beach, lay down my town and you guessed it, sunbaked and read my book. Then I got in my car and set off back for Canberra, stopping off for a visit with tea and biscuits with my grandgrandparents in Moruya on the way.

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September 12, 2017

Fairy Bower Falls and the Village of Bundanoon

On the weekend I headed off to a waterfall I had read about on a travel blog: Fairy Bower Falls. It was about two hours drive from Canberra past fields with cattle and sheep. I passed a few quaint little villages too as the road narrowed and the trees formed an archway over my head.

Soon I reached the village of Bundanoon where apparently one of my friends’ dads hails from. I passed a cute little church on Church Street and people going about their business. I entered a national park and stopped to pay my $8 park use fee at a machine. I collected my ticket and drove through the park gates and along a dirt road.

I had my gps on telling me where to go but there were signs so it was pretty self explanatory. I parked and looked at a map of the park and pinpointed where the waterfall was. I drove there and parked my car. As it was now lunch time, I had lunch in the car but could have had lunch at a picnic area back where the map was at the entrance of the park.

After a cheese sandwich and mandarine, I headed past a sign about the falls being a steep descent and descended down to them. I wandered down a path which soon turned into a number of stone steps. These wound down on to a steel platform which I crossed and passed sandstone jutting out of the cliff.

Then I heard water: a sure sign I had almost reached my destination. Then I was there! It was in a kind of gully shaded by the trees and adorned with tree ferns. Water trickled down the cliff and cascaded down at the base of the falls adjacent to which was a little sandstone cave.

I sat on a rock at the base of the falls and drank in my surroundings: soaking up the coolness and tranquility of the forest and listening to the tinkling waterfall. I also read my book awhile before exploring the little cave and feeling the waterfall with my hand.

Then I climbed back up to the top of the falls which was a very steep climb! After reaching the top, I drove back into the village and explored a cafe’/nursery with giant lilac waterlilies out the back and a sunbathed verandah overlooking the main street before enjoying a lime milkshake at a cafe’ and people watching before heading back to Canberra.

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August 27, 2017

Saturday at the Snow

This weekend I decided to go to Thredbo and enjoy the last of the ski season. On Friday night after work, I briefly dropped by home to pack my ski gear and some items for my brief stay in the city and drove to my accommodation where I deposited my luggage and set off for a walk through the city. The sun had since set, the sky was dark and lights were on everywhere. I walked past trees bathed in gold light on City Walk, the still merry-go-round with its cover on, past little pubs and restaurants I wouldn’t have noticed that much in the day time, all lit up and bustling with punters relaxing with a cold one after a busy working week.

Soon I was at my destination: The White Rabbit. I love love love this place. I settled down at a table by a screen where a black and white Mickey Mouse was playing to the tunes of a DJ who had a stand in front of the screen. I drank a Tweedle Rum cocktail which came with little banana chips and pineapple on the side of the glass. I also got some shoestring fries which came with a nice tartar dipping sauce. I sat back, relaxed and enjoyed the music. After that I walked back to my accommodation and had an early night before my journey to the snow on Saturday morning.

I slept soundly and my alarm blared to life at 4AM. I got dressed, got a taxi to the bus terminal (although it was so close I could have walked it) and boarded the Snow Express Murrays Bus bound for Thredbo. As soon as I got my name marked off the list, I put my luggage in the overhead locker, put an eye mask on, drew the curtains, reclined the comfortable black leather seat and went to sleep. Three hours later and I was at the snow. I got a receipt for my beginner snow package which included snow gear hire, bus travel to and from the snow and a lift pass. I collected my snow gear and set off for my adult beginner ski lesson.

My instructor was called Tim and had a pleasant and exotic French accent. He taught us to put on and remove skis, stop forwards and backwards, ski in a circle with one ski on, taking turns on which foot to do this on and then we progressed to the “magic carpet” conveyor belt which took us to the top of a small slope. We skied down this a few times, with Tim correcting our technique each time. He taught me to zig zag and stop and slow down whilst zigzagging down the slope. Once I had mastered this technique I progressed to the easy chairlift.

I scanned my ski pass and got on a chairlift with three other people who were either skiing or snowboarding down the slope. The chairlift gave me a good view of the surrounding landscape, even all the way to the top of a snowy peak from which people were skiing down. Once we reached the summit, our skis and snowboards hit the ground and we were off down the slope! I got more confident each time I went down the slope and soon was zig zagging at full speed, shredding up snow as I went! At the end of the day I returned my ski gear and locker key and enjoyed a mulled wine at a bar at Thredbo. Then I caught the Snow Express back to Canberra and had a hearty dinner of Vietnamese food with a lovely glass of Cabernet Merlot: bliss.

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August 13, 2017

Sunday in the Capital

Today I had an adventure a bit closer to home. I set off for the Australian Reptile Centre in Nicholls and was soon at my destination as I live on the northside anyhow; however, as Canberrans have told me on many occasions, 30 minutes is the longest time you will ever spend driving from one place to another in this city.

I paid my $16 adult admission fee and entered the centre. I was told there were snakes and other reptiles which could be patted which the child in me found very exciting. I looked at blue tongue, bearded and frill-necked lizards, skinks and goannas.

I met a saltwater crocodile called Charlie and spied some freshwater ones too (in another tank.) I saw cute little skinks and turtles, some of which I was able to pat. I patted a blue tongue lizard too.

I walked through a dark passage with small, nocturnal reptiles and then it was snakes! I patted a python and beheld others which were not to be patted like the boa constrictor and the eastern and king brown or mulga snakes. I also beheld the beauty of an olive python which is not venemous. Then I went to the Walk in Aviary which was a short distance away and also in Nicholls.

I paid my $13 adult admission fee and was soon feeding the birds as I got a cut up apple and meal worms to feed them in a bowl and container respectively. The kaleidoscopic beauty of the rainbow lorikeets enthralled me, as did the many other birds which also included zebra finches and cockatiels. Then I had half a pint of Kilkenny at the George Harcourt which is a great English pub in the area. I enjoyed my beverage outside in the sun as I listened to musicians perform for the hefty crowd of revellers. Click the “Sunday in the Capital” link to see a clip I took of a band performing at The George Harcourt this afternoon.
Sunday in the Capital

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August 12, 2017

Day Trip to Young

Today I did a day trip to a town famous for cherries which had been recommended to me by a childhood friend. Yes, I am talking about the town of Young in NSW which is roughly two hours drive from Canberra. I set off around 8.30AM and drove along the Barton and Hume highways before going onto country roads. There were a couple of potholes here and there but overall it was a pretty smooth drive. Soon green fields and crops appeared, as did fluffy white sheep and cattle grazing on the fields beside the road. I spied the bright green and red of rosellas and saw a flash of white as a sulphur crested cockatoo soared overhead.

After about two hours, I was in Young! I passed a sign adorned with cherries (a motif I would see repeated everywhere) and parked at the well-sign-posted and easy to find information centre, which was housed in what appeared to be a rather historical-looking building. I entered through the doors and was greeted by wonderfully friendly staff. I received a map of the town and was asked if there was anything in particular I would like to see. I said I was interested in the museum I had seen a sign for further down the road. The lady helpfully explained the way there and circled the location on the map for me. She also circled a nearby park and said there was a good cafe’ behind the museum.

I thanked her and had a look around the information centre. I picked up some leaflets about Young and other regions in NSW. Then I bought a postcard of Young, some cherry jam and a bottle of pinot noir I saw in the wine cellar. After depositing the goods in my car, I milled around the art gallery which had free admission. There were lots of pretty works of art to be seen, including still life and landscapes but with figures in the pictures. My favourite picture was of two men looking out to a glorious sunset with their dogs at their side. I thought it was brilliant.

Then I left my car in the 2P free car park and set off on a walk around the town. I passed a playground and stopped off at a fudge factory. I saw loads of lollies but settled on a chocolate cherry liqueur, sticky date and butter pecan fudge pieces respectively. They came all nicely wrapped up in a little box and in a pretty pink and white striped bag. I continued my way around the town and read lots of information signs about historical buildings including the bank and old school which is now a museum. I also bought an oil burner and a nice romantic fiction book. I eventually completed my journey around the town and ended up where I had began. Then I bought a 1.5L bottle of water from IGA and put the street address of the museum into my GPS as I didn’t quite know my way well enough around the town just yet.

It led me straight to the museum where I parked my car. It was now about lunch time so I decided to have lunch first and then visit the museum; I wasn’t in a hurry after all. I bought a cappuccino in a mug and a slice of someone’s mum’s famous carrot cake. I also ordered a chicken salad with pumpkin and cous cous. All of it was absolutely delicious and was enjoyed out in the courtyard in the winter sun as I read my Paddington book by Michael Bond.

After having a delicious lunch and reading a fair bit of my novel, I headed off to the museum. I paid the very affordable $6 admission fee for an adult and entered the museum. I was met with a whole lot of history about the Gold Rush era and the town of Young and the people who had lived there in times past. There was an old horse carriage and many other old devices. There were old war medals and an afternoon dress and wedding dresses. There was history about so many events and it fascinated the hell out of me.

After quite a long time wandering around the museum and reading all of the information, I headed back outside and crossed the road to the park that had been recommended to me back at the information centre. I walked through an archway with the name of the park and read a sign saying a rose garden was dedicated to someone. I walked along a gravelly path and up into a gazebo with the sunlight streaming through the gaps in the wood. The gazebo gave me a good view of the park and to the Catholic church beside it. I walked out of the gazebo and walked the length of the park.

There was a children’s birthday party happening near the end of the park and there were blue balloons everywhere. I walked back through the park opposite the Catholic church and settled on the well-mown green, soft grass and continued reading my book in the winter sun; it was just gorgeous. Then I drove to the Chinese tribute garden and parked my car there. It was only about 3km away up the road. I walked across a little bridge and past two great granite lions and a great red archway. I walked around a little path which led around the central water feature of the garden. I also passed a lovely little waterfall.

I saw there were fish in the surrounding water and one was bright orange. Having completed my circuit around the garden and finding some early spring daffodils, I settled on some grass near the dam on the other side and continued reading my book again in the winter sun. After that I drove off back to Canberra, passing a sign saying Thankyou for visiting as I did.


July 9, 2017

A winter weekend in Canberra

This weekend kicked off with a visit to the World Curry Festival in Civic (pretty much just outside The Canberra Centre at a place called City Walk.) Golden lights lit up the trees and water fountain and exotic music filled the air; I was particularly impressed by the drums which were being played to a different rhythm than I was used to. I walked past many delicious-smelling stalls-from Thai, to Indian to the Philippines and so on. I ended up settling on a butter chicken with rice and a na’an bread all for only $12! I sat on a bench and drank in the rich atmosphere, sights and scents around me. A few people had braved the winter cold for this event and were rugged up. After that I made my way to a cocktail bar that I love very much called The White Rabbit. It is Alice in Wonderland themed and has tea cups and everything as well as Alice playing up on a screen with a DJ playing some tunes. I ordered a Tea Party cocktail and a passion fruit souffle’ dessert which came in a quaint little teacup! There were candles flickering on the tables and it was comforting to be inside drinking a delicious cocktail and nibbling away at my souffle’ as I gazed out of the windows to Northbourne Avenue and beyond.

On Sunday I drove to a suburb called Holt to a place called Shepherd’s Lookout. It was pretty easy to find and was sign posted from the road. I parked my car, put on my rain coat as it looked like rain and a wind was blowing, and made my way along the paved track. Soon it became gravelly and unpaved and a sign for Shepherd’s Loop appeared. I followed the markers and the little track winding downwards through the trees, which included some Cypress Pines which I recognised from my visit to Namadji National Park. Soon I was at Shepherd’s Lookout and stood on a metal grid platform and read the information sign. The Murrumbidgee River stretched out, green, beneath me, snaking its way through the trees all the way to Uriarra Crossing-which is a popular swimming and picnic spot in the summer time. Beyond the river stretched hills and mountains, making for a pretty view. Then as great raindrops fell, I made my way back to my car and drove home.


June 1, 2017

Birthday Weekend in Sydney!

Last weekend, mum and I decided to both go to Sydney-me from Canberra and she from Brisbane, to celebrate our combined 26th and 50th birthdays and watch Sydney’s famous Vivid show. Mum flew down and I caught the bus up. She checked into the accommodation at the Rocks (beautiful area but rather a lot of stairs and cobble stones) before me and I met her there. I can tell you it was quite an effort lugging my 20 or so kg suitcase up many flights of stairs, but when I got to the rooftop terrace I saw the most wonderful view over Sydney Harbour which stretched out to Manly and encompassed the Royal Botanical Gardens, the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

We went out to a lovely restaurant called the Argyle where we had some glasses of white wine and I had a Tigerlily cocktail. We also shared a pizza and caught up on the past two months (since I’d last been up at the Goldy for a high school friend’s wedding.) Then we ventured down to Sydney Harbour and watched Vivid light up the Opera House and surrounding buildings with a theme I could hazard a guess as being the Great Barrier Reef as it included coral spawning. The atmosphere was electric and the crowds were heaving. Then we went back to our accommodation.

The next day mum asked what I would really like to do in Sydney and I said to visit Bondi Beach of course! I told her I was a big fan of the TV show Bondi Rescue which had even got fans in the UK (which I found out when I lived there for a year.) We found out that Sundays have a $2.50 maximum spend on public transport which includes ferries so it was a perfect day to make the trek to Bondi! We scanned our Opal cards (purchasable from many shops and the train station) and hopped on a bus from Alfred Street headed for Bondi Beach. It was quite a busy bus but after all, it was a cheap day for public transport.

Within about half an hour we had arrived at our destination. Bondi Beach stretched out before us in all its aquamarine glory. It had the famous lifeguard tower at one end and a promenade dotted with little cafe’s along the way to the other end. Mum and I walked along the prom to the other end of the beach and had breakfast and coffee at a cafe’ called Speedo’s. I was excited to spot one of the famous Bondi lifeguards on his phone at a lookout outside and even more excited when he came into the cafe’ we were in to grab a coffee. Then mum and I headed back along the beach. We spotted another Bondi lifeguard and this time asked to have a photo. He immediately posed for one-what a nice guy! Then we finished our walk along the beach and started the Bondi to Coogee walk which a friend who used to live in Sydney had highly recommended to me.

Mum and I had worn enclosed shoes and walked past the famous Icebergs Pool and along the clifftop walk. It was beautiful from every angle and we took a fair few photos. It was nice to watch the surfers catching the waves in. We even walked up Bronte’ hill which was a very steep incline but afforded a marvelous view of our surrounds. Then we decided to catch the bus back to Bondi, however it just went to Bondi Junction so we had to change buses there and catch a different one back to Circular Quay. Then we went out again for dinner and drinks, this time the ferry by night to Manly which is about 30 minutes away. It was marvelous to pass the buildings, opera house and bridge all lit up with Vivid. I felt like Rose from Titanic, standing at the front of the large ferry as it glided smoothly across the harbour to Manly’s distant shores. We noticed seagulls gliding on the wind the ferry generated as they accompanied us to the other end of the harbour.

Once we reached Manly, we disembarked the ferry and headed along the promenade to a restaurant mum wanted to take me to: Manly Wine. We were seated at a little table near the windows where we could look out onto the dark ocean and surrounding lights. We ordered our meals and shared a bottle of a delicious Pinot Grigio from Victoria called White Stripes. Then we caught the ferry back to Circular Quay and went back to our accommodation.

On Monday (my 26th birthday) we had a little bit of a sleep in and then headed to Darling Harbour for breakfast which was walking distance away. It was a pretty little harbour and had shops dotted around it and boats floating around it. We spotted a Navy ship which was part of the Australian National Maritime Museum. We visited a shopping centre and had a look at the shops. Then we returned to Circular Quay and explored the Royal Botanical Gardens which were also walking distance away. We sat on the sunny green lawn past the black gates with crowns on them for Government House and watched the boats go by. Then we walked up the stairs of the Sydney Opera House (which is pretty high up by the way.)

We looked at beautiful views around Sydney and took photos. Then we decided to visit Manly in the day time (the last time before last night that I had been there was when I was 18 which was almost a whole ten years ago!) We caught the ferry there and walked along the esplanade for the length of the beach. Then we rounded some corners, passed a “mermaid pool” which was like an infinity pool before the ocean, walked up and around a steep little headland and through leaf tunnels along a winding pathway, before looking inside a quaint little shop selling sea shells and other gifts.

Then I waded in the “mermaid pool” and mum took some photos, including of figures in the stones on the side of the path, like weedy seahorses. Then I waded in Shelly Beach, which is around the corner from Manly Beach before wading in Manly Beach. Then, as the sun went down we headed to a German restaurant called The Bavarian Manly Wharf. This was my birthday dinner! We sat at a comfortable table by a gas fire place as the sun set over the ocean through the windows beyond. Mum ordered a kransky sausage with cheese and I ordered a jaegerschnitzel which was a delicious chicken schnitzel with a delicious mushroom sauce on top. Both dishes were divine. Mum had a rice beer and I had a mango beer which a friend had recommended to me. We said cheers and clinked our glasses as the fire warmed us and the ocean roared in the background. What a fabulous birthday weekend in Sydney! Then we caught the ferry back past the bright lights of Sydney Harbour and past the glowing Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge-what an adventure!


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Watch the video of Vivid Sydney


Watch the video of my trip on Sydney Harbour




May 21, 2017

Visit to Lanyon Homestead

Yesterday I decided to head off and visit a place that had been recommended to me by my auntie and my grandparents so I thought it must be good! I looked up the address-pretty easy really, Tharwa Road, Tharwa and off I went! I’d passed this place on my way to Namadji National Park a few weeks ago so had a pretty good idea of where to go. A sign tells you “Lanyon in 250 metres” and I turned into the dirt road driveway which was in excellent condition.

Cattle and sheep were grazing on fields around as I drove towards the homestead which I couldn’t actually see at that point as it is a fairly long driveway with trees shading it in places bathed in autumn colours of red, gold and orange. Soon I reached the parking area, noticed a few cars were parked there and found a spot very easily. A couple who were in the car behind me asked if I was there for the wedding. I was not, but understood all the cars.

I read an information sign about Lanyon Homestead and set off up a path under more autumn trees to get there. I passed a lamp post, saw a stone saying when Lanyon Homestead was opened to the public, in 1975, read another information sign and saw the wedding party posing for photos. I can understand why people would want to have a wedding here-it is absolutely beautiful.

I saw a grand-looking two storey building with glass windows looking out to the surrounding rural landscape (although it is just 30 minutes away from Canberra, back in the day it would have been quite remote.) I walked up some steps and crossed the great veranda which had overhanging shrubs and pulled open a heavy wooden door. I walked over the threshold. As soon as I had done this I found myself in a grand entrance with fancy tiles on the floor and a detailed ceiling which was very high up with a grand light hanging down. On the walls, were paintings in ornate portraits and there was a vase of flowers. I smelt them and they smelt like spring time.

A lady called Sally asked if she could help me. I walked down the entrance and into the reception room. Around the walls were textiles and information about the two styles in this house-one Victorian when it was built in an English style in the 1800s and the other more modern as it had an extension built on in the 1900s. I paid my $7 adult admission and was given a map and brochure of the homestead. I asked Sally if there were any tours happening and she said she would take me on one.

Sally lead the way through a number of rooms and told me great detail about each of them. My favourite was the parlour-a cosy little room with an open fireplace with a grate in front of it. Before it were two dark red velvet chairs and even a little doll in a little rocking chair with straw. A table and chairs were in the corner, as was a volcano. Apparently this was not a fancy room where they would bring guests, but more of a family room to relax in. The curtains were large and heavy to keep out the cold. Apparently the homestead has heavy stone walls and no central heating which means it is always cool in summer. Also, a fireplace is in nearly every room although they only maintain the one in the parlour at present. This would ensure they were always warm in winter.

I also saw a drawing room with a fancy tea set and fruit cake laid out. This was more of a feminine kind of style with floral fabrics. It was a lot bigger than the parlour and also had a fireplace and a table and chairs. Then there was a kind of business room where the man of the homestead would pay workers’ wages. It had a gun rack on the wall which held whips on teeth-like racks. The chair was square and masculine, as was the pipe and pipe rack. Even the wooden desk looked masculine and it had many compartments all of which locked.

Then Sally led me through to the extension (added in the 1900s in a very different style) but we paused down the corridor. Sally showed me a portrait which is three in one-dogs, a bowl of fruit and a sail boat on a turbulent ocean. It changes depending on where you are standing which I thought was pretty amazing. Then Sally showed me a feminine room added for a man’s wife when she moved in. It was huge compared to another master bedroom I had seen in the Victorian style with a little four poster bed with wooden beams and a wash basin and chamber pot. This larger room was very pink and had a great view out on to the expansive veranda. The upstairs bedrooms were closed and the staircase which led to them actually got moved when they built in the extension but markings on the wall say where it used to be. I thanked Sally for the tour and wandered through the rooms alone one more time before heading to the various outbuildings.

I looked at stables, an old kitchen which the kitchen maid slept in in a little bed in a separate room with very basic furniture. They used fire to cook so the kitchen was kept separate from the homestead because of risk of fire and cooking smells. Then I looked at a dairy and an old race track and tractor shed. Then I ended my day with Prince of Wales tea and scones with jam and cream under some leafy autumn trees outside in the sun. I walked back to my car via the gardens which were expansive. I found a large vegie patch which is still maintained, roses and the pretty white flowers I had found in various vases inside the homestead. Then I drove home.




May 8, 2017

Cruise on Lake Burley Griffin

This weekend I had pre-booked a ticket to a cruise on Lake Burley Griffin so on Saturday morning, just before 10am, I headed off to the lake (as I live on the north side, this is about a 30 minute drive away.) I parked the car (free parking on weekends yay!) and headed off to the boat ramp. The boat was already there and most people were already on board. I told the driver my name, hopped on board and grabbed a seat by the window. Soon we were off. The boat is non-pollutive so had a really gentle, smooth and quiet movement.

We glided around the lake with the driver at the wheel in his hat telling us all about this history of the area, revealing secrets of the lake and pointing out various landmarks as we passed them like a memorial to the police force, a navy memorial, the National Gallery, National Museum of Australia and so on. I enjoyed the autumn colours of red, orange and gold as we passed by. After the cruise I thanked the driver and headed off to Canberra Yacht Club for a delicious hot cappuccino by the stone fire. It was extremely cosy looking outside the windows and being seated on a large leather chair with a silk-like cushion. That night I headed to Piallago Estate for a friend’s birthday dinner which was amazing!

The next day I headed to my favourite markets in Canberra-Hall Markets before going to my regular Sunday ballet class. What a weekend!

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