Archive for ‘ACT’

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!

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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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.


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 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.