Trip to Canberra, Sept. 2007

These are photos from our trip to the capital of Australia.  Most are pictures from the botanical gardens, the Floriade national flower show, and a historical homestead (circa 1860's) we visited while there.

This is a wild flower which looks like a cross between thistle and snapdragon.  These are everywhere.  In some places they cover hillsides so densely that the whole hill is purple.  I tried to get a photo of a purple hill, but the colors just don't come through on my camera.
In addition to the purple flowers, there were quite a few places covered in bright yellow flowers, such as the field in the distance in this photo.
We stopped on the way to Canberra and spent the night in Holbrook, a little town along the highway.  They have a lovely museum there.  Of special interest was the old schoolhouse building which Stephen is standing in here.  He's pointing to a necktie tied to the rafters of the ceiling.  The story goes that a couple of teenage farmhands decided they didn't like their teacher - and so they attempted to hang him from the ceiling with his own necktie.  Fortunately they didn't succeed and the teacher was rescued.
I was enjoying sight seeing so much that I didn't actually take many photos of the city!  But I did get this classic shot from the top of a mountain to the south of the main downtown area.  Here you can see the man-made lake which runs through the center, and the avenue which runs north/south.  The red avenue on this side of the lake begins with the war memorial, and extends (visually) through the lake to the parliament building in the distance.  It's a very effective visual - and one would hope that the lawmakers, on leaving the building, would glance down that long avenue and remember the terrible consequence of some decisions.
Here's the war memorial from the entrance.  It's a very different memorial than any I've seen before.  Not a glorification of war, but truly a place of remembrance for those who gave their lives.  In the colonnade halls on the left and right are posted the names of those who died (this pre-dates America's Vietnamese War memorial).  Under the dome is the unknown soldier's grave.

Beneath the memorial building is a remarkable museum.  It houses uniforms, gear, weapons, and even planes (they have a Japanese zero plane).  

The exhibit which touched me the most is the one dedicated to WWII civilian prisoners.  They have a handkerchief belonging to Jan Ruff-O'Herne- an Australian woman who, like 200,000 other female prisoners, was forced into becoming a "comfort woman" by the Japanese military.  The handkerchief was given to her by her mother the day the army took her and 9 other girls away to serve in the brothel.  It is embroidered with the names of the 7 girls who were enslaved in the same brother where Jan was kept for 4 months.  She now lives in Adelaide and has become famous world-wide as one of the women who have recently chosen to break their self-imposed silence and confront the Japanese government about what was done to them.  She's was in the US in 2007 to testify in front of Congress.  The Japanese government to date has refused to acknowledge the fate of the comfort women - saying that there is no evidence that the atrocities ever happened.

Floriade is an annual flower show in Canberra.  It's held in a public park near the government buildings.  Parking and entrance to the show are free!
The biggest display is the tulip/spring bulb area.
This is a bad place for allergy sufferers.
But oh, what a delight for the eyes!
They had just about everything you could imagine in the way of tulips and daffodils.
With the tulip plantings are other flowers which fill in the gaps.
One thing we didn't see is black tulips.  I think that's the only color not represented.
Most of the planted area was tulips, but there were a few other things, such as these poppies.
Other than the huge plantings, there were exhibits, such as the flower arranging competition.  There were also quite a few market-style vendors selling all kinds of things from clothing (I bought 2 lovely blouses), jewelry, plants (of course!).

Steve Parish - arguably one of Australia's best-known nature photographers had a huge tent with posters, books, and calendars for sale.  We bought a poster-sized print of rainbow lorikeets - and Stephen noticed that Parish was there - so we got him to sign our poster!  Very nice man - unassuming and friendly, approachable.

There were several groups of school kids at the show.
There's a small lake on the park grounds and we saw this family of black swans with their signets.  Momma and Daddy brought the babies quite close to the people standing nearby, but kept a close eye on things.
Outside the city is an 1860's homestead now set up as a museum - Lanyon Homestead.  Next to that compound is a museum containing paintings by the famous Australian abstract artist Sidney Nolan.  Nolan did a series of paintings about the outlaw Ned Kelly (more about Kelly at the bottom of this page).  This "roadsign" is in the parking lot of the museum.

The museum unfortunately was closed the day we were there... as the infamous Kelly said "Ah, such is life".

Here's a photo of the Lanyon Homestead's main building - the family house.  There are other buildings behind this one (stable, cook house, etc.).  The house dates to the 1860's and is in fantastic condition.
The front veranda of the main house.
In back of the main house is the "cookhouse".  The door on the right leads into the kitchen.  The door on the left leads to the food storage area, including an underground "cool room" where perishables were kept.  Remarkably, the "cool room" really was fairly cool, even in the oppressive heat of summer in this area.
In the back of the cookhouse is the laundry room. 

As they say: "All the mod cons"

Here's the washing machine.

And the dryer.
This is the floor of the stable.  It's made up of logs!  Quite solid/firm, but pretty cushy footing for the horses.
After leaving the homestead we drove around the northern end of the countryside near the city.  We came across a wildlife sanctuary and stopped in for a few photos of the residents.
Canberra has a fantastic botanical garden.  I'm not sure how big it actually is.  We were there close to 3 hours and couldn't have seen more than half of it.

It was a perfect day to visit the garden - about 65F and sunny.

The garden has only Australian native plants.  All areas of the country are represented, from the tropical north to the cooler climate of Tasmania.

Entrance to the garden is free.  All the main paths are gently sloping and wheelchair accessible. 

I can't identify most of what I saw (yet).  I have learned a few species' names, but not many.

Like this lovely flower.  It's about 3 feet high - very attractive plant.  No idea what it's called, however.

This bee is having a feast.  The tall shrub (about 6 feet tall) he's investigating is covered with sweet scented flowers.
This plant has attractive tiny green leaves and purple/blue flowers (very small, about half an inch across)
Ah - here's one I know.  Hardenbergia.  It's a climber with long leaves that flowers in late winter/early spring.  We've got a couple of small specimens next to our drive here at Kallista.  The one in this photo is mature - cut to form a bush instead of a trailing plant, and about 3 feet high, 4-5 feet across.

Hardenbergia is also called "Australian Wisteria".

The flowers are lovely but don't have a scent.

I love this one.  The bush is about 2 feet high and across, with pale pink flowers.  I'm hoping to locate this one at the local nursery - it would look really good in a blue pot!
Another "mystery shrub" (I don't know the name).  It's a very large bush - probably 6-7 feet high and wide.  This photo is a closeup of the flowers and leaves.  The leaves are very soft and feathery.
Ah!  Here's one I can name: a banksia

Banksia's are lovely.  Some are trees, some shrubs.  This one was a smallish tree and I love the orange blossom.  Nectar eating birds love these.

This one is orange, but most of the banksia's I've seen are red.

On our way back home we made a stop in Glenrowan, a tiny town in northern Victoria, close to the New South Wales border.

Glenrowan is famous as the place where the law finally caught up with the infamous "Kelly Gang".  The Kelly Gang were bushrangers (outlaws) who held up banks in the area.  They were worried about getting shot, so somebody came up with the idea of making metal armor - helmets and breastplates - which they wore to protect themselves.  The armor did it's job - but the outlaws eventually were run down by the authorities anyway.  They caught Ned, the most famous of the group, by shooting him in the leg.

The folks there are cashing in - there are 2 museums with Kelly memorabilia (including the Kelly family's farmhouse which was moved to town for display in one of the museums), a movie theater which shows an early 1900's silent film about the gang, and several souvenier shops.  There's also "Ned's Burger Hut", Ned's pub, and the Kelly Gang Winery shop.

Here Stephen poses with a Ned Kelly statue outside the post office.

 You can't see the sign on the left of the building, but it says "Kelly Gang Winery".  And here on the front porch of the building are the 4 Kelly Gang members, all dressed in their armor (replica's, of course, the real armor is housed in national museums).

When I was hunting on the web for Ned Kelly sites, I found one set up in 2005 for a proposed re-building of the area and a unified "Ned Kelly Centre".  I sure hope they never follow through on that architect's vision.  The organic "homespun" feel of Glenrowan has a kind of kitschy charm - a slightly run-down and homey feel to it that a slicked up modern complex would just never replace.