Public Art when you don’t expect it.

The Arboretum, in Canberra, features both expected art and the unexpected.

Given that it is place of trees, I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised to find a bonsai pavillion, artfully arranged.

The main building is architecturally beautiful, right from the walkway to the entrance, featuring metal plates depicting flora.

A playground, appearing as a gumnut sculpture, was well-attended.

On the way to the Himalayan Cedar forest, we saw this eye-catching sculpture, but I couldn’t find the creator’s name, anywhere. As you can see, I circled it, looking. Later, a Google search revealed that :

This sculpture, A Backwards Attitude, represents a pivotal point in technology, its effects on our lives, and our need to recognise that.  The work asserts that the entire world is available for digital consumption. By Louis Pratt, Cold cast aluminium, steel and fibreglass.

We sat to eat our lunch at wide brown land, an artwork by Marcus Tatton, Futago and Chris Viney, celebrating Dorothea Mackellor’s famous Australian poem, My Country, written in 1908. The piece was inspired by her cursive handwriting and is made of Corten steel plate and cold bent steel rod.

With over 100 forests and a multitude of walks, the Arboretum provided more than we anticipated.

The interior of the main building has high exposed beams and large windows expose sweeping views that can be enjoyed while you appreciate the cafe fare, after visiting the display tables and gift shop.

if you’re in Canberra, put it on your itinerary.

Canberra #3

We started the day with a hike to Mount Ainslie Lookout. It begins gradually and is quite steep for the last 30m or so. Many good views are afforded along the way, but the best are at the top. It took about 90 minutes return and where I wouldn’t advise a wheelchair, I did see three people using canes and walking quite slowly. Many people are in training gear and run past slower people like me.

Remember it was bushfire season so excuse the misty photos.

Black Mountain Tower affords some fabulous views, we were told, but unfortunately with the fires the smoke haze made visibility poor. It is still an interesting building and an easy drive from the main sights.

There is a viewing gallery, a theater and a cafe, as well as a telecommunications museum. It is also called Telstra Tower and the actual tower rises almost 200m above the summit. Your visit wouldn’t be longer than an hour, I think.

Questacon is on the other side of Lake Burley Griffin and is an extraordinary collection of interactive Science and Technology activities (over 200 I believe) that are designed to entertain, educate and inspire schoolchildren to pursue careers in that area.

I have been there with my children, with school classes and this time it was just for me and I could have spent another hour or more there. We stayed 2 hours as it was, watching, trying, pressing, drawing, thinking, puzzling and marvelling. The free fall was fascinating, but I wouldn’t try it.

The National Gallery is very near here, so we walked there, along the Lake, enjoying the sculptures and what was on offer in the grounds, and not entering. There were a few reasons for this, among which was the advertising of the outdoor sculptures and the Skyspace. So that is what we spent an hour and a half viewing.

Staying in the region, we headed for New Parliament House. It’s an impressive building, right from its approach, and has a wealth of architecture and marble.

The House of Representatives has a green room, just as it did on the old P.H. and the Senate is red, as before. When parliament is sitting, between 4000 and 5000 people are employed there.

There are galleries of historical figures, current politicians and political cartoonists. Documents and decisions are displayed, as well as plans, models and protests. The view from the grassy rooftop is impressive and informative, with many structures to catch the eye.

One of these is the 81m flagpole, visible from many vantages in Canberra. Three locations form what is known as the Parliamentary Triangle and New P.H is considered to be at the apex. Dead centre of Parliament House is the flagpole and it is represents the intersection “of Australian democracy—the people, the parliament and the government—are all brought together under one flag.” (

under the flagpole, on the roof of Parliamentary House

It’s quite easy to spend 1-2 hours, here. Tours are available if you prefer.

Even in Canberra, where it can get very cold, always take a hat and water in Australia.

Safe Travels.

Under the top of the National Triangle

A complicated way to introduce today’s entry in Becky’s April squares – top.

In Canberra, Australia’s capital city, there is what is called the Parliamentary Triangle, and the buildings on the points of the triangle are Defence headquarters, City Hill and Parliament House. The latter is considered to be the top of the triangle, and on top of Parliament House sits an impressive, stainless steel, pyramid-like flagpole, 81m high, flying the Australian flag flying.

If you stood under it, here is what you’d see:

According to the Australian Parliament House website, the apex of the flagpole is exactly over the centre of the building, marking “…the intersection between the building’s ‘law-making axis’… and its ‘land axis’.”

“This intersection symbolises how the elements of Australian democracy—the people, the parliament and the government—are all brought together under one flag.”

Canberra #2

There is actually a lot to do in the capital of Australia, despite how small it is. That just makes it packed and practical. Some highlights from one day:

Canberra Glassworks

Located in what was once the Kingston Powerhouse, the FREE entry glassworks allows you to watch as glass blowers work, do a tour, watch artists hone their items, have a try at glass blowing, read about the history of the Power House or shop at the outlet.

Fascinating and colourful, it is easy to get to, with ample parking although on Sundays apparently there is a market, so keep that in mind.

There are stairs, so wheelchairs will be restricted, but there are also some ramps and I didn’t check for lifts. I think you’d plan for a minimum of an hour, here.

The Kingston Power House
Glassworks shop
Viewing balcony or seats, although they ask that you sit down to watch. You can see the old iron workings of the Power House
Artists at work

Museum of Australian Democracy (MOD)

This building is also known as Old Parliament House. It is a young history of our Governments and the displays reek of the 1940s and ’70s, so is perhaps more interesting for Australians than those from other countries.

Classic British design abounds and there is a room where the House of Representatives meet and another for the Senate (Upper House). This is the same in the New Parliament House, with matching colours, I think.

Unless, of course, you enjoy the political art (craftivism), summaries (we saw Truth, Power and a Free Press), interactive displays and period furniture that a $5 family entry can afford.

From the front steps you see the current stand by the Aboriginal Tent Embassy, first established in 1972, which is to maintain their sovereignty over Australian soil and waters. The Embassy is not recognised by the Government but nor is it removed (these days).

Oddly enough, the backdrop is Mt Ainslie and the Australian War Memorial.

Give yourself 60 – 120 minutes here, depending on whether you self tour or take a guided one and your interest in history.

Australian War Memorial

This dramatic and impressive centre has life-size displays of aircraft, cock-pits, weaponry, soldiers and more, as well as model battles and audio that captures reflections from veterans of the Great Wars, Vietnam, Korea and Iraq. It is considered as a military museum.

It is haunting, effective and free. I have heard they are thinking of spending a huge sum on upgrading it, but I cannot see why, as it is quite memorable.

I am not an advocate of war, but this is certainly worth a visit and you might spend a couple of hours or more, here. There is plenty for children, too, and accessible in a wheelchair.

This is definitely a 2 hour or more place.

side view
Memorial courtyard
dome in the hall of memory

Kingston Foreshore

Finish the day with a walk around the foreshore. There are bars and eateries a-plenty, with pleasant views to be had.

River cruises and water craft for hire are also available if you want to hit the water in style.

Adelaide to Canberra – Australia’s capital

The Australian Capital Territory (A.C.T.) is very small, in our big island, with a total area of less than 3000 sqkm, and quite a distance from South Australia, but it was our destination at the end of 2019.

We drove there in three stages, stopping at roadside camps and arriving before lunch on the third day. This post will mostly cover the travel and stops there, so if you want to know more about Canberra and what to do there, try Canberra#2.

As we live in the north, the quickest way was through Mildura and we had a lunchtime rest at Lake Cullulleraine. Thankfully there was shade, as the temp was 43C and the water provided an illusion of relief, in the absence of any breeze.

We passed Mildura and made our way through dust clouds to our evening stop at Lake Benanee in New South Wales. This was very early in the bushfire season that hit Australia last year, and it was hot and dry. We were the only ones at the campsite, which was such a change from when we have stayed here before, and as we sweltered in the heat, looking longingly to the natural lake, some locals pulled up, took their water gear to the edge and walked right in. We were only moments behind.

This is a lovely free campsite with a toilet block and, although it is not far from the highway, we have never found it to be too noisy at night. We were off early and made a stop at Hay. Notorious for the long stretches of unbroken uniformity leading to and from Hay, it now has controversial cotton paddocks and tufts of the stuff stuck to roadside plants and fences, alike. The entry and exit are still quite straight for long periods.

Hay is a very interesting town if you turn into the main street. There is a very good park where children can play and adults stretch their legs, some fascinating craft shops, cafes and the River Murray.

says it all.

There followed a lot of highway and some missed stops, using wiki camps and the RAA book of campsites and rest areas, before we settled on Bookham. It was a neat area, with very good toilets, across from St Columba’s church and near a funky bakery/cafe, but very close to the main highway. At night, there was a constant roar of truck engines and flash of lights, and we had the van open due to the heat but by now we were close enough to the fires that smoke drifted in and we couldn’t sleep with all the windows open. Choose a quieter spot if you can.

We reached Cotter Campground in the A.C.T. by mid-morning and there were plenty of spots from which to choose. We pulled up alongside the Cotter River and a BBQ pit and this is a fabulous site. Fees are $15 per adult per night, $12 for seniors and $10 for concession/children. It is the most serviced park in the A.C.T. and the amenities were great, but beware the 3 minute timer on the showers. They don’t turn off earlier, either. Wood is available to buy from the rangers, who visited every day, if you don’t bring your own. It is a National Park, so you can’t cut down trees or break off branches.

I’ll talk more about some of the highlights of the campsite in another post, but at this point we drove into Canberra central to get some supplies. It was a 15 minute drive, one way.

Our son and his wife drove out from Canberra to share a BBQ tea and we made our plans for the upcoming days.