Over View of Canberra…

Telstra Tower

Telstra Tower. (you need to click on this photo to open it)

panorama telstra tower

The best place to see the layout of Canberra is from the viewing platform at the top of the Telstra Tower.

Rearing 195.2 meters on the summit of Black Mountain which is a small mountain of 812 metres. It is not only a landmark and one of Canberra’s most visited tourist destinations but also offers 360 degree panoramic views of Canberra and its surrounding countryside from an indoor observation deck, two outdoor  viewing platforms and the Tower’s revolving restaurant.

Impressive sight

Impressive sight

From below the structure “towers” above us. Thank goodness there is a very fast lift to whisk us to the top. So for the princely sum of $3, concession price, we could see Canberra spread out below.

Open Sesame

Open Sesame

In actual fact, because of the wide-spread bush not a lot of the older suburbs could be seen.

Canberra Panorama

Canberra Panorama with Lake Burley Griffin dominating the landscape.

 

From this elevated view it is very obvious why Canberra is called “the Bush City”.

The site for Canberra was chosen and the nation’s capital was a purpose-built city because no decision could be made whether to choose Sydney or Melbourne as the Capital.

“Following the Federation of Australia on 1 January 1901 and the eventual selection of the Australian Capital Territory to accommodate a capital city in 1908, Surveyor Charles Scrivener was responsible for finding the city’s specific site.[13] Scrivener’s selection was guided by instructions to assess sites from “a scenic standpoint, with a view to securing the picturesque, and with the object of beautification”.[14] Hence from the outset, in accordance with Renaissance English fashion, emphasis was placed on the picturesque, that is utilising the intrinsic beauty of the natural world, and affirmed that the future capital’s landscaping and aesthetics would be just as important as its functionality

“Canberra growth over the first few decades was slow, and Canberra was indeed far more a small country town than a capital before World War II. It was noted for being more trees and fields than houses. Cattle grazing near Parliament House was a common occurrence, something which amazed General Macarthur when he visited Canberra during World War II.” (information from Wikipedia)

Canberra CBD

Canberra CBD the hi-rise buildings rising from a sea of bush.

Parliament House right hand side of photo

Parliament House right hand side of photo

Over to the west the mountain range encircles the Capital

Over to the west the mountain range encircles the Capital

The pink tint of sunset clouds the mountains in mist.

The pink tint of sunset clouds the mountains in mist.

As I look down on Canberra I can imagine all the bureaucrats and pen pushers busily scheming and planning Australia’s future.

There are many places to visit in Canberra, but the beauty of house sitting takes the urgency of seeing every thing as quickly as possible. We can pace ourselves and enjoy and absorb the detail of this fascinating place.  

 

Categories: Australia, Black Mountain, Canberra, photos, Telstra Tower | Tags: , , , , | 28 Comments

Welcome to Cool Climate Canberra

Usually we go north during the Australian winter, following the sun. So this is the first time I have experienced a cold winter for a long time. I had forgotten that raw, tingling feeling inside your nose every time you take a deep breath, the running eyes and numb fingers, but with the help of thermal underwear and warm jacket, scarf and gloves, I am slowly acclimatizing. 

Some mornings, after a frosty -2 deg night, the sun shines, the wind drops and it is a beautiful crisp, Canberra day. On these days it is a pleasure to take Millie, the dog, for her walks.

A walking track runs alongside the house

A walking track runs alongside the house

Notice how well wrapped up I am. I look like a round dumpling…

Our home away from home

Our home away from home

Our home for the next 3 months nestles in a tree and bush filled section, very rustic. Inside it is beautifully warm with underfloor gas heating AND a log fire in the lounge area. To keep us warm in bed there are electric blankets. Not had that indulgence since the days I was milking cows back in New Zealand.

Go Millie...

Go Millie…

Along the centre of the road is a wide tree filled median strip. The piles of mulch have been put there by council workers and it is to be used for mulching the many trees in the area.

Canberra Nature Park

Canberra Nature Park

A 10 minute walk along the median strip and we turn into Canberra Nature Park. A doggie heaven of smells and space to run, other dogs to meet  and trees to check for and then leave doggie messages…

Tree lined streets

Tree lined streets

Canberra is known as the “Bush Capital” and this area has a very rural feel. The beautiful deciduous trees line all the streets and the rustic colours of Autumn still linger on some of the mighty oak trees. I love the wide verges and that there are no front fences hemming the sections in. I found out that it is not allowed, by law, to build a front fence, a hedge is ok and side and back fences are allowed. But the absence of a front fence gives a friendly, neighbourly feel to the suburb.

Another law I totally agree with is that if you own a cat it must have an enclosure and not be allowed to wander, and it must be registered. Now I am not too sure how that law is policed. Do they have a cat ranger who checks your property when you register your cat? Maybe a Canberrian cat owner can let me know.

So with the absence of cats wandering around and lots of trees there are lots of birds.

Evening line up.

Evening line up.

Jack took this photo of his favourite birds, sulphur crested cockatoos and galahs. There are dozens of them turn up each evening, I think one of the neighbours feeds them. Notice the character on the right hanging upside down?

Galahs

Galahs all fluffed up to keep warm

Thank you for the walk...

Thank you for the walk…

So we are back home after our walk. Millie is a Labradoodle and is adorable. I love taking her for walks twice a day and it is a great way to explore the neighbourhood.

I am a day early but I thought this would also be a good post to join in with Jo’s Monday walks.

 

Categories: Australia, Canberra, house sitting, Jo's Monday walks, photos | Tags: , , , | 48 Comments

Southern Beauty

The scenery along this south-west coast of Western Australia is spectacular. The Indian Ocean pounds the ruggedly beautiful coastline creating huge swells and the wind whips the tops into a frenzy of spray.

The wild Indian Ocean

The wild Indian Ocean

Busselton To Yalling up PC x35 101_4000x3000 surf

Sugarloaf rock

Sugarloaf rock is tucked into a more sheltered bay.

 

Once 30 birds would breed here, now only a few are left.

Once 30 birds would breed here, now only a few are left.

The unusual Grass tree is prolific in this area. The grass tree Xanthorrhoea is a uniquely Australian plant, which epitomises the Australian landscape and is as tough as goats’ knees. It will withstand drought. Bushfires will burn the foliage and blacken the stump, but then it regrows. In fact often a bushfire will encourage flower development.

The grass tree

The grass tree

They were once known as "Black boys" but that is now politically incorrect.

They were once known as “Black boys” but that is now politically incorrect.

This area is renowned for its magnificent forests. The strange-sounding Tingle trees, the mighty Karri and Marri trees tower above as we drive through them. Four years ago we went on the tree-top walk to visit that experience click here.

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The scenery changes as we move inland from the coast. The land becomes farming country, the trees have been cleared and the pasture is the most vivid green. It rivals the scenery of New Zealand.

The long shadows of the golden hour create a magical scene

The long shadows of the golden hour create a magical scene

The wine industry of this area is world-famous and you cannot drive through without seeing the many vineyards. As winter approaches they are changing into the autumn foliage, the grapes have all been harvested and next years vintage is being produced.

The vineyards

The vineyards

This night we will spend in a caravan park at Yallingup and take a last stroll across the road to watch the sunset across the Indian Ocean.

Busselton To Yalling up PC x35 141_4000x3000

and the moon rise

and the moon rise

 

 

Categories: Australia, Western Australia | Tags: , , | 16 Comments

The Gathering of the Gnomes

  Never have I seen such an unusual sight.

A huge gathering of gnomes. Yes the common garden gnome, sometimes ridiculed, sometimes loved, but here they all congregated in their thousands.

They have come, one assumes with human assistance, from all over Australia and even from New Zealand and other parts of the world. I noticed Germany, Holland, Canada, Ireland.

They are a magnet for tourists and in summer busloads descend on this tiny corner of the Ferguson Valley,  just down the road from Donnybrook. Glades full of playful, naughty and sentimental Gnomes climbing logs, hanging out in trees, playing cricket, even flying planes! The parking is very limited and surprisingly there is no tourist shop to tempt you to buy memorabilia, not even a toilet… Just the gnomes

These gnomes are waiting on the side of the road to greet you

These gnomes are waiting on the side of the road to greet you, in the background is the small area of parking along the road.

They disappear into the distance, almost a kilometre into the bush.

They disappear into the distance, almost a kilometre into the bush.

They squat on the tree stumps

They squat on the tree stumps

These gnomes have grouped together to form a choir

These gnomes have grouped together to form a choir

Can you spot Jack?

Can you spot Jack?

There he is....

There he is….

So how, and why have all these gnomes congregated here?

It all started in 1995 when the council decided to alter the road and put in a round-about. Next day a gnome appeared in protest to the alterations, no one knew were he came from. As in the legend, it wasn’t long before other gnomes joined in this silent protest. 

Visitors seem to love the opportunity to leave a part of themselves in this idyllic, rural wonderland. I followed along as Emma and Gino searched for a safe place to settle their 2 gnomes into the community.

Gino decides the opposite bank is not so crowded.

Gino decides the opposite bank is not so crowded and will be a good position.

Hesitantly Emma follows, with a helping hand from  Gino's Mother

Hesitantly Emma follows, with a helping hand from Gino’s Mother. The resident gnomes urge them on.

This looks like the perfect spot.

This looks like the perfect spot.

I'm sure it won't be long before they are joined and so the community will grow

I’m sure it won’t be long before they are joined and so the community will grow

And so the legend lives on...

And so the legend lives on…

 

Categories: Australia, Gnomesville, photos, Western Australia | Tags: , , , | 27 Comments

The Awesome Might of Nature

 Gracetown is a hillside, coastal town with panoramic ocean views. The town is located on Cowaramup Bay which faces north, bringing shelter from the strong winds of summer, and making it popular with holidaymakers and surfers.

The day Carroll and Jack took us for a drive through the area the weather god was shining down on us.

The surf was pumping.

Surf's up

Surf’s up

Will he catch it?

Can you see him as he frantically paddles. Will he catch it?

YES....

YES….

It takes the brave to challenge and ride these waves.

It takes the brave to challenge and ride these waves.

But Gracetown has a tragic story in its past. On a day like today, fine and sunny, in September 1996. It was the last day of the school term and Cowaramup and Margaret River Primary schools were enjoying a day of friendly surfing rivalry. Watching the final heat children, parents and teachers were sitting on the beach under the cliff overlooking the Huzzas surf break.

drive with jack  carroll pc 015

Without any warning at around 6pm more than 2000 tonnes of rock and earth collapsed on them. The horror of that moment will be forever remembered at this spot.

Onlookers dug desperately to save those buried. As news of the tragedy spread they were soon joined by rescue workers, friends and relatives.

Two excavator drivers came to assist the frantic rescue efforts. One risked his life manoeuvring his machine over then down the cliff.  

One 10-year-old girl  was freed from the rubble 2 hours later and survived.

Sadly 5 adults and 4 children were killed.

A beautiful memorial stands on the top of the cliff were the collapse happened.

A beautiful memorial stands on the top of the cliff were the collapse happened.

drive with jack  carroll pc 009

 

drive with jack  carroll pc 008

For my friend Carroll this place is deep in memories as she was working at the Margaret River Primary as secretary and receptionist and was in the front line of the out pouring of grief.

Life can be so unpredictable, so my friends out in the blogosphere, count your blessings, give your loved ones a hug, and appreciate every moment.

Categories: Australia, Gracetown, Margaret River, Western Australia | Tags: , , , , | 26 Comments

Friends Past and Present

Where do I start?

It has been almost 5 weeks since we hired a camper van and set out into the Great Southern area of Western Australia.

The whole purpose of this part of the trip was to reconnect with dear friends we made 4 years ago. No time to blog, and not very good internet connections, so for that time I was in cyber limbo.

I’m finding it hard to get back into the discipline of confronting the computer and sorting all the photos, and I must admit, remembering the details is not easy, I didn’t keep very many notes either…

But what I do remember is the times spent with our friends, sharing stories, telling jokes and eating meals together, very precious memories and a time I will cherish. The weather was not the best, after all it is winter down here. But the fires burnt bright and warmed our bodies and souls, and we wrapped up in thermals and winter jackets.

The last 2 days in Western Australia we spent in “Airbnb” accommodation. This is the second time we have used this type of accommodation and I am now a big fan. It is very affordable, at least half the price of a motel or hotel, and it is world-wide. Maureen, our host in Perth, gave us a warm welcome and we immediately felt at home. We came as strangers but when we left, after 2 days, we felt we were saying goodbye to a friend. Maureen was a Yorkshire Lass too, so Jack had 2 of us to keep him under control. (Actually an impossible job!!!)

  

Now we are in Canberra for another house sit.

What a sad start it was as the day we left to fly to Canberra Nicola emailed us with the sad news that her Mother, Christine, had died so suddenly and unexpectedly. I was devastated. Christine had become a close blogging friend, ( Dadirridreaming) and it was through her we had contacted her son Mitchell and daughter in law Nicola to do this house sit, and I had hoped we would also meet Christine while we were here.

Wednesday was the day of the funeral and the family have included her many blogging friends in the community by sharing a moving post of the service and photos.

Now we are settled in to this beautiful house with gas ducted heating and a cosy log fire in the lounge and Millie, the dog, to keep us company and take us for walks AND a very good internet connection. The next 3 months will fly by.

So welcome to Canberra the capital city of Australia.

But first I will sort through the photos and over the next few days show you some of the highlights of the Great Southern area of Western Australia.

Categories: Airbnb, Australia, Margaret River, Perth, photos, travel, Western Australia | Tags: , , , , , | 23 Comments

Quick update from on the road.

Mandurah pc a720 002_3264x2448

We have been on the road almost a week. Today it is raining so a good opportunity to find the local library and catch up with emails.

We decided to travel from Geraldton to Perth on the bus. Much, much slower than flying, 6 hours instead of 60 minutes, But much easier on the budget and we were not in a big hurry. After one movie and one very interesting documentary about the wine industry in Bordeaux, France and a brief 20 minute stop in the middle of nowhere we arrived at the bus station in central Perth. 10 minute taxi ride round to pick up our next set of wheels and it was on the road south. At least we thought we were on the road south, it turned out to be the wrong motorway, we were heading back north….

I am directionally challenged.

Eventually after stopping at a garage, were the very helpful young mechanic photocopied off maps for us, and then calling out to a passing cyclist to verify we were in the right direction we found the Kiwani Freeway south.

Our delightful couch-surf hosts had a delicious meal waiting for us and we unwound with a glass or two of wine and got to know each other.

We spent 3 days exploring their area.

This fresh fruit and veg barn is only open weekends and had the freshest produce. Only locals would know of this sort of place

This fresh fruit and veg barn is only open weekends and had the freshest produce. Only locals would know of this sort of place.

Our transport waiting for us as we had lunch and explored Mandurah

Our transport waiting for us as we had lunch and explored Mandurah

One of the advantages of couch-surfing is you are told of the interesting places in the area. I have many more photos to show and tell about, this is just the preview of what is to come.

On our final day Graham and Marie took us on a tour of the area they live in and we finished at this small café with the most delicious cakes and BIG mugs of coffee.

But all good things come to an end and it was back on the road again slowly heading south for Margaret River. Now we are in caravan parks for a few days.

Today is raining so we are taking the opportunity to spend time in the local library using their internet.

Categories: couch surfing, photos, Western Australia | Tags: , , , , | 37 Comments

Garden Update and Goodbye.

We have been here 8 weeks that only seem like 2, the time has slipped by so quickly. Tomorrow Naomi arrives home from her adventures in Indonesia, and it will be time for us to move on.

But before we leave I would like to show you how the garden has grown. Do you remember the post 6 weeks ago? It hadn’t rained for a long time, the 3 rainwater tanks were almost empty and I had to nurse the tiny seedlings along with regular watering. Then it rained. Since then we have had showers on a couple of days every week, and the plants have thrived.

 This was 6 weeks ago, look at them now.

The beans are flowering

The beans are flowering

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These are the last 2 tomatoes from this plant.

These are the last 2 tomatoes from this plant.

No worries here are the next ones.

No worries here are the next ones.

Cucumbers flowering well and if you look closely you will see a tiny cucumber.

Cucumbers flowering well and if you look closely you will see a tiny cucumber.

I will maybe get a meal from the kale before we leave

I will maybe get a meal from the kale before we leave

A couple of dragon fruit have just ripened in time for Naomi to enjoy them

A couple of dragon fruit have just ripened in time for Naomi to enjoy them

We have enjoyed our stay but next week it will be back on the road again. So it is “Goodbye” for a while. We will not have a constant internet connection, in fact maybe none. I will miss my daily fix of meandering through cyberspace visiting my lovely community. But I will no doubt have hundreds of photographs to sort and show and tell in a months time when we settle in to our next house sit at Canberra. 

Categories: Australia, garden, Geraldton, house sitting, photos, Western Australia | Tags: , , , , , | 37 Comments

A to Z Challenge : U for Ukulele

Jack's prized possession.

Jack’s prized possession.

 

In the past year we have discovered an amazing sub-culture of musicians, the ukulele lovers.

Ukulele, I thought, are the poor relations of the string instruments. Has there ever been a concerto for ukulele, do you see rock bands having a jam session with a ukulele in the group? The image of the ukulele is an Hawaiian island,  sand, sun and palm trees and graceful locals dressed in  grass skirts swaying to the sound of a ukulele.

But for me that image has changed dramatically. Jack’s son gave him a ukulele as a present a year ago and it has opened up a whole new set of friends. Ukulele groups can be found everywhere.

Geraldton Ukulele Gropp

Geraldton Ukulele Group preparing for a sing-along.

Once a week they welcome in to the fold any one who would like to strum along. Suddenly we have found owning a ukulele opens a whole new world. Check on YouTube and you will find lessons and tutorials and very talented musicians using the ukulele to play every thing from classical to jazz.

Alan is the leader and organizer of the group and a very talented musician

Alan is the leader and organizer of the group and a very talented musician

Jack just keeps practising.

Jack just keeps practising.

**********************

 Frizztext organizes the A to Z  challenge each week and this week it has arrived at “U”. 21 weeks have whizzed by since the start of this challenge. I’m constantly amazed at the variety of subjects that appear each week. Click here to find what they are all up to.

Categories: A to Z Challenge, Australia, Geraldton, photos, Ukulele, Western Australia | Tags: , , , , | 37 Comments

Mullewa Meander : Walking with Jo

Another drive, inland this time, to Mullewa. This is the centre of the wildflower country, but being the start of winter the flowers are still all tucked up and waiting for the warmth of spring, then they will burst out in glorious, riotous colour.

Now the fields are sown, the rain has fallen, and the crops are also waiting for warmer weather

Now the fields are sown, the rain has fallen, and the crops are also waiting for warmer weather

It is an hours drive along a good road, that is if we don’t spot some thing of interest.

Now this looks interesting. Let's take a look...

Now this looks interesting. Let’s take a look…

Kojarena Chapel

Kojarena Chapel

Round a bend and tucked in among the gum trees is this delightful small chapel. Another house of God designed and built by the architect priest John Hawes.

In 1934 the devout Catholic O’Brien family donated a block of land on their farm so this “little sanctuary of God” could be built. Locals helped with fund-raising. This simple but pleasing structure truly fitted into the surrounds.

Sadly the chapel was closed in 1982, due to lack of priests and the ease of getting to Geraldton for mass. It started to deteriorate. Again the O’Brien family came to the rescue, some of the 58 grand children of Maggie O’Brien, raising money for the restoration and organising working bees from the extended clan.

Lovely metal sculpture of Monsignor Hawes visiting his parishioners.

Lovely metal sculpture of Monsignor Hawes visiting his parishioners.

The information boards give a picture into a gentle world long gone.

The information boards give a picture into a gentle world long gone.

The road was long and straight and ran beside the rail track. Numerous trains with an uncountable number of wagons rolled past heading to the port at Geraldton to deposit their cargo. Then back the other way empty. Not sure what the cargo was, maybe iron ore, maybe the wheat from the last harvest that is stored around the countryside in huge silos.

Jack snapped this photo of a train as it came toward us

Jack snapped this photo of a train as it came toward us

It is Sunday but still they are working 24/7 to keep the economy rolling along.

Another eye catching metal sculpture.

Another eye-catching metal sculpture.

What a harsh life it would be for these pioneer women.

What a harsh life it would be for these pioneer women.

Finally we arrived at Mullewa. The town was deserted, it was Sunday, a couple of campervans drove around the streets looking for some thing to do. I had brought along a picnic and we sat in a small park watching the antics of a family of crows.

Filled and fortified it was now time for a walk. The Hawes Heritage Trail beckoned.

The start of the trail

The start of the trail

The trail started at the heritage Town Hall building

The trail started at the heritage Town Hall building. Notice the metal dog?

The trail winds past 11 way stations each one detailing the life of a remarkable man.  Hawes was an astonishing character, a man of dramatic contradictions and fascinating passions, and the life he lived could be truly said to be unique. (click here to read more)

The trail is marked by these arches featuring the colours and design used in the Geraldton Cathedral

The trail is marked by these arches featuring the colours and design used in the Geraldton Cathedral

It took a while to reach the church the information at the way stations made interesting reading.

Our Lady of Mt Carmel Church

Our Lady of Mt Carmel Church

 

Round the side, it is beautifully proportioned

Round the side, it is beautifully proportioned

 

Even though it was Sunday the doors were locked. It had been open at 9am for mass. I would love to look inside.

Even though it was Sunday the doors were locked. It had been open at 9am for mass. I would love to look inside.

Look at the meticulous detail

Look at the meticulous detail

 

It had been an enjoyable Sunday drive. (Remember the days back in the 1960′s, when petrol was cheap and plentiful, cars were big and spacious and every Sunday the family would pack a picnic and go for a Sunday drive?) The walk had been informative. We have now seen the 3 major churches John Hawes had designed and built in this area, plus the Kojarina chapel. Here is the post about the other churches.

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The walk had only been a short one. To see longer and varied walks wander over to Jo’s blog. This week she takes you for a fascinating stroll along the river in Poland. You may like to put on your walking shoes and join in.

 

 

 

Categories: Australia, Jo's Monday walks, Mullewa, photos, Western Australia | Tags: , , , , | 28 Comments

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