Saturday, September 28, 2013

Canberra–Day 2

It is hard to decided what to do when you have limited time in a city with many things to do and see.  Today we decided to see the National Museum of Australia (the Smithsonian of Australia) and the Australian National Botanic Gardens.  Both turned out to be interesting and provided a sense of the history and variety of this country.  We also got in some bird watching.

During our travels around Australia, just like our trip in 2000, we find the people are so nice and are very willing to go out of their way to help.  We have met some very nice people and find it very easy to have a conversation with almost anyone.

The museum tells the story of the Australian people.  It is full in interesting artifacts that help tell the story.


For example, there was the story of Harold Wright that built a wagon to house his family and then traveled around Australia during the depression sharpening knives, saws, and anything else.


There are displays of Aboriginal Art.  This is a typical piece that is done on tree bark, depicting a stingray and barramundi.


The steam engine played a major part in the history just as it did in the US.


And of course the history includes needle work and quilts like this early thread painting (1940s),


or this quilt top from the same time period.


Lunch menu was Fish  & Chips at the museum café.


The Botanical Gardens were full of interesting and what we would call exotic plants.  Because we happened to be the only people around when a tour started we ended up with a very personalized tour of the gardens.  Doreen Wilson was fun, and when we expressed an interest in a particular area she would make sure we saw those things.


Stag Horn Ferns


Kruanga Casdade


Banksia flower,


Warratah flower (not fully open)


Unknown but truly amazing flower on a tree,


Grass Tree (a type of orchid, almost in bloom).


Birds seen today include the Australian Wood Duck


Australian Magpie


Sulphur-Crested Cockatoo




Seen but not photographed include, Pied Currawong, Noisy Miner, Crimson Rosella, Welcome Swallow.

Overall a fun day but we were both glad to get back to our Hotel room and relax.

Tomorrow will be a travel day.  We will be driving from Canberra back to Sydney and then hopping on a plane for Brisbane. 

Friday, September 27, 2013

Around Canberra–Day 1

Another fun and interesting day in Australia.  We had a nice day in Canberra, but just scratching the surface of what is here.  Canberra is a beautiful planned city that was specifically designed to be the Australia National Capital.  In that respect it is similar to Washington DC.  It even has its own land area called the Australian Capital Territory.  It is a planned city in that there are specific areas dedicated to homes (both single family and apartment complexes), specific dedicated shopping areas, the Government functions, etc.

We started the day at the Mount Ainslie Lookout.  It is an excellent place to get an overview of the city.  This is a view across from the Australian War Memorial, down Anzac Parade, across Lake Burley,  the old parliament building, and the current parliament building.

This view includes the same basic view but shows most of the extent of Lake Burley.  On the right is the Australian National University campus.


We spent most of the morning and part of the afternoon walking through the National Gallery of Australia.  It is the main art gallery and has both new (modern) art works as well as paintings that cover the entire Australian time period.  Their display of Aboriginal art is extensive and very interesting.  Unfortunately, photography was not allowed so no pictures. For more information on the museum see.

From there we visited one of the many parks along the banks of Lake Burley.  So many water birds that were there.  They included:

Black Swan


Eurasian Coot


Australian Pelican


Grey Teal


Other birds we have seen, but no pictures are the Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, Galah, Crimson Rosella, Australian Raven, and the Australian Magpie.  That was just today.

We also sighted some kangaroo’s.  We understand they are fairly common around ACT (as well as other states).

Here are three we saw today.


Instead of the “deer crossing” signs along the roads, we see a lot of these instead


We drove through the Embassy area.  Many of the embassy buildings are constructed along country themes.  this is the Malaysian Embassy


This one is the Embassy of Thailand


At the end of the day, we went to the Telstra Tower on Black Mountain,


Although the observation area is not that high above ground level (60 meters), being at the top of Black Mountain, the views are excellent.  It is located Northwest of the city so is best in the afternoon.

Parliament building and Lake Burley


Lake Burley covers a large area as can be seen in this view.


So as the sun sets over Australia, we leave you with this view of the setting sun…….tomorrow, more of Canberra.


Thursday, September 26, 2013

Canberra via The Road Less Traveled

What a fun and varied drive from Sydney to Canberra.  We saw beautiful country side, fantastic scenery in the Blue Mountains, and ended up on “the road less traveled” during part of our trip.

We left the Holiday Inn – Sydney Airport about mid morning.  As we were leaving we noticed two Aboriginal elders performing some sort of ceremony at the Holiday Inn.  We don’t know the specifics but it was interesting to see them in their ceremonial paint.


We successfully navigated through the city streets and onto the Motorway headed West toward the Blue Mountains.  I am sure glad I had previous experience driving on the other side of the car and road.  Having my Garmin to navigate our way was a big help.

Our first stop was in Glenbrook at an information site.  There we picked up some additional maps and some ideas of additional places to visit, time permitting.  While in Glenbrook we also stopped for some “brunch” since we had skipped breakfast.  Glenbrook is a small town with a relatively small business district.  We ate at the Café Cee, a small store front Café but with good food and friendly staff.  As we walked the street to our car, I noticed a full fledged butcher shop, next door to the grocery store.  There was also a clothier, beauty shop, among others.

The Café Cee is just this side of the building with the brick wall.


From there we drove to Katoomba and the Echo Point overlook.  The main highway is being worked on which slowed our progress.  As a result we were only able to stop at the one place in the Blue Mountains.

Thirteen years ago, during our previous trip to Australia, we tried to see “The Three Sisters” in the Blue Mountains on a guided tour.  Unfortunately it was so foggy that we never saw a thing.  Therefore on this trip one of our goals was to visit the Three Sisters.  We had a beautiful day.


Note the deep canyon.  That is part of the beauty of the area.


This is just to prove we were there!



Here is a street scene from Katoomba.


From there we decided we needed to head for Canberra if we were going to get there at a reasonable time.  When I programmed my Garmin, I simply put in the three places we wanted to stop and let it choose the road.  We were surprised when we discovered it had chosen two lane roads that ended up bypassing many of the towns along the main route.  It turned out to be a fun drive with very little traffic and through some beautiful sheep and cattle country.  We followed a ridge line for most of the way and had nice views of the deep valley floor and other mountains.






I started to wonder a couple of times if I was going to end up on a gravel road when the road narrowed to more of a lane.  We drove down a couple of mountains and back up the other side in some places.  It was really a fun drive with good weather (except for the wind).  Temperature was a cool 14 degrees C.

Dayna….can you figure out what that temperature is in our measurement units.  You can get our Dad or Mom to help you with this question.

Eventually, we rejoined the main road into Canberra.  For a long distance, this road ran along the edge of a very broad flat valley.  The valley was lush and green (it is early spring here).


The shadow line is because we were on the west side of the valley at the base of some additional mountains.

Our final surprise of the day was the Hotel Room we got at our hotel.  We usually ask for a queen size bed, and expect a fairly simple room.  Much to our surprise our room has a living room, dining/kitchen area, and a loft for the bedroom.  NICE!


Tomorrow, we explore Canberra…..until then….