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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April 30, 2017

Visit to Canberra Yacht Club

Today after my Sunday afternoon ballet class, I headed off to the southside and Yarralumla to visit Canberra Yacht Club. It was easy to find and just next to Nara Peace Park by Lake Burley Griffin.

I found a carpark easily and headed up the stairs and ramp up to the appropriately blue and white club. I signed in using my licence, ordered a cosmopolitan and wagyu beef burger at the bar and settled myself down with my order number on a stand in a comfortable yellow leather chair with my back to a fireplace with a view towards Nara Park, a bridge, Lake Burley Griffin, birds and a number of yachts.

As I drank my cosmo and ate my burger, I watched the sun in its golden hour, bathing everything in its glow before sinking into the distance and painting pink and purple pastel colours across the sky.

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April 29, 2017

Epic Farmers’ Markets and Canberra Heritage Festival

Today I set my alarm early so I could not miss out on the Epic (Exhibition Park in Canberra) Farmers’ or Capital Region Farmers’ Markets which run from about 7.30AM-11.30AM on Saturdays. I got there at about 9ish and managed to find a car park not too far from the entrance (or one of many entrances.) I walked underneath golden hued trees with leaves crunching under my feet to one of these entrances. I came in at a back corner of the markets which had lots of delicious apples on display, including Golden Delicious apples-my favourite! I promptly bought some of these apples and mulled around the markets, drinking in all the sights and scents around me.

I bought an organic chocolate which was also vegan and milk free-it was delicious! I also bought a bees wax candle, a plum, persimmon, an Italian bread, a tin of Chai tea and a cappuccino and chocolate croissant which I sat down to enjoy at a table. The markets were quite busy. I passed flowers, preserves, fruit, vegies, tea, coffee, dog treats and so on. Finally done with my purchases, I headed back to my car and drove to a little village called Hall.

I had been to Hall since I was little as our doctor had a surgery there at the time and there used to be an old two person seated swing which has since disappeared. I parked at the Hall School Museum and Heritage Centre which I knew was doing special exhibitions for the Heritage Festival weekend. I headed inside (entry is free but donations are welcomed as it is run by volunteers.) I was directed to the Heritage Festival exhibition which was a collection of Aboriginal artifacts from a collector from the 1970s before they were protected and left where they were found. The collection was very large. I looked at lots of different stone tools from blades, to anvils and others.

A very knowledgeable historian guide told me about all of the objects on display, including a number from Black Mountain Peninsula which is where the National Museum of Australia sits today. There were some Aboriginal artefacts found there which were more associated with tribes from South Australia which is quite interesting. I imagined the Aboriginal society which would have existed back then without the need for money. I imagined tribes which lived in the desert, in forests or by the water, their many different dialects and customs. I was told that tribes married outside their tribes so traditions and customs could transcend different tribes. After this I paid my donation and poured myself a cup of tea and helped myself to a couple of biscuits.

Then I meandered around the museum, which I had visited previously but enjoy coming back to. I passed the history of the local area, including a story about a local blacksmith and stories of education here. I passed the section commemorating and telling stories of the Anzacs and bought a home made quince tart. Then I was on my way.

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April 23, 2017

Visit to a Winery

Today I journeyed across the border to Murrumbateman, New South Wales. Canberra suburbs were replaced by green hills springing up out of fields, dotted with black cattle or white fluffy sheep. I also spotted some beautiful horses. Soon I was at my destination-Four Winds Winery. Vines crept up the walls and brightly coloured flowers lined the path leading inside. I crossed over the threshold and tasted some wines-Riesling, Rose’ and Shiraz. They were lovely. Then I ordered a glass of Riesling, bought a bottle of Rose’ with strawberry,  watermelon and peach flavours to take away and ordered a BBQ chicken wood fired pizza.  I ventured outside with my Riesling and was bathed in sunlight which shone gold on the surrounding vineyard.  Green hills surrounded me and soon my wood fired pizza was ready-in fact I had seen

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it being made at the outdoor wood fired pizza oven-yum!

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April 22, 2017

Exploring Namadji National Park

20170422_141142.jpgToday I drove past the south side of Canberra and to Namadji National Park. The visitor centre was easy enough to find, was clearly signposted and had plenty of parking.

The lady there was very friendly and knowledgeable as she told us all about the park and its various walks. I left the visitor centre, map in hand and set off around the woodland walk which was immediately outside the visitor centre. It had lots of useful information and a shelter with window panes built like an old style homestead. Apparently there were a few homesteads around which were built by Europeans; some were intact and others in ruins. I also read about different tyes of wildflowers and gumtrees including snow gums which grow higher up and mountain ash which grow lower down.

I wandered off this track and did the Cypress Pine Lookout walk. It was quite steep but very pretty, especially once you got to the lookout at the top! After that I finished the woodland walk and drove to the Aboriginal rock art walk which was a 40 minute drive away. This walk was open and grassy with markers and a number of curious kangaroos.  It was also only reachable by dirt road but it was a fine journey in a two wheel drive-even through little pools of water! The rock art and views of surrounding mountains were magic!

April 17, 2017

Corin Forest Adventure

Today I drove past the southside of Canberra (a side I rarely visit as I am a proud northsider-once you’ve lived in Canberra a little while you will understand the north/south divide.) I passed Gibraltar Falls which I had visited previously (it is gorgeous and has stunning views) and continued my climb (in my car) upwards. In not much time at all I reached the carpark for Corin Forest which was somewhat hidden on the right-hand side of the road. I parked my car and strolled inside where I picked up a brochure of the place. I walked around the outside grassy area which was near Gibraltar Creek and was dotted with picnic tables and shady trees. I settled myself down at one of the tables and delved into a chapter of the book I was reading.

After being lost in a hilarious chapter I snapped my book shut and walked around the area. I saw a number of steps leading upwards and saw a sign saying to purchase a ticket at reception before ascending. I did just that and bought a ticket to the Alpine Slide-something I have not ridden on since I was about 9 years old (a whole 17 years ago!) There was a bit of a line and I was waiting 30 minutes but after you go to the Palace of Versailles in European summer where you wait 3 hours to go in well a 30 minute wait doesn’t seem so bad! Soon it was my turn and I climbed into the cart, pushed down the lever to go and ascended up a couple of steep hills. Once at the top we queued up in our carts and then went one at a time, leaving a good safety distance between us.

Then I was off! I pushed my lever down to the go position and slid along the tube-like slide-it was fun! There were a few loops and I got a good view of my surroundings. Then I was back at the bottom. I exited the cart and headed back on the path underneath the trees, looking at the pine forest in the distance with its dark green leafy needles.

April 17, 2017

Nostalgic stroll around Mount Rogers Reserve

Ever since I was little, back when we were living in Fraser and I went to the local primary school there and dad rode his bike sometimes to his job in the city, we sometimes grabbed our kelpie cross blue heeler dog, one of us was in the pram or in the baby seat at the back of mum’s bike and we would go for a walk around Mount Rogers. This walk has always and will always be absolutely beautiful. We used to munch on peeled apples and toddle along next to mum or ride our bikes around the circular trail. We would stop at the playgrounds on both sides of the walk-one near Fraser and one nearer Flynn and play on them too. We would scramble up great grey rocks and survey the bushland around us complete with flowering wattle and gumnuts on the gumtrees. You were always sure to see some kind of native wildlife, whether it be a kookaburra, magpie, great Red or Eastern Grey kangaroo peering out at you from behind some trees or quickly hopping across the path. On my walk I saw birds and butterflies-a beautiful Golden Wanderer butterfly included. So I did this beautiful walk and heard the birdsong, saw the little lamp posts among the European types of trees near little paths winding to houses in the surrounding suburbs and drank in the views of the distant blue Brindabella Ranges. It was absolutely beautiful.