’17 Jun: Canberra and Melbourne

Canberra June 16-20: The nation’s capital, and Relatives!
Melbourne June 20-23: A very fine city.

After a nice settle-in…

After a nice settle-in at my University House accommodation Susan picked me up and took me home for dinner. Isn’t that sweet! That’s Michael by her side and three of the four grown children were around too.

Susan is my father’s brother’s son’s daughter, close friend of my sister Lona, and beloved by my mother, and I’m so sorry Susan, I didn’t catch that your eyes were closed!

…there are huge areas…

…there are huge areas fenced by these double gates. You may approach the kangaroos as you please, don’t be stupid though, they are not interested in being your friend.

They’re plenty of them in the wild too, like mobs just up the hill from Michael and Susan’s place.

…so she could feed…

…so she could feed fish to the pelicans. The swans are so aggressive the pelicans can’t eat in peace when they’re around!

There are two Australian pelicans that have lived in this pond for 25 years. They are welcome to leave but they don’t seem to want to bother.

Our naturalist told us these were the largest pelicans in the world but it didn’t seem so to me and wiki doesn’t think so either.

That black one is…

That black one is a Musk Duck. None of the other ducks will be his friend because he eats their babies.

The full name of the other one is Little Pied Cormorant, very common and very cute.

This guy is called…

This guy is called a potoroo and what a funny fellow. There are a few varieties and most are endangered. There was a family of potoroos getting fed carrots in the koala enclosure.

Wiki: “The potoroo is a kangaroo-like marsupial about the size of a rabbit. It is a macropod. All three extant species are threatened, especially the long-footed potoroo and Gilbert’s potoroo.”

Next we did a…

Next we did a swing-by the Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex operated in conjunction with NASA. There was an interesting museum inside and it was cool just to stand there.

(internet pic)

…they fed me dinner…

…they fed me dinner AGAIN! We had a cheese plate each evening too; a gal could get used to this. I also don’t want to forget that as soon as I get my stove I’m going to make Quince Paste. A cheese plate becomes A Cheese Plate when you’ve got some quince paste to enjoy.

Now I’m going to quote from a movie I should see…The Castle, and the quote is “Why would anyone want to go to a restaurant when you can eat like this 7 days a week?” I understand this is hysterically funny in context.

My goal for today…

June 18

My goal for today was to visit my top two attractions in Canberra, the National Gallery and the War Memorial…and I did!

Here we are at the National Gallery of Australia.

…and fantastic on the…

…and fantastic on the inside. Really really good.

I’m going to type in this text: “Thunder Raining Poison 2015 is a work relating to the nuclear bomb tests that happened in the 1950s at Maralinga. A lot of the bomb clouds had travelled across Kokatha Country, which is my Grandfather’s and my Country. When I first started my research relating to Maralinga, what I found was a lot of people didn’t know about it. I found that really interesting because it wasn’t that long ago that those tests happened.

“I wanted to create a large-scale work that spoke about one of those bomb clouds. I felt like I needed to go up and see what was up there. I am aware that there were quite a large number of bombs tested. I felt quite uneasy at the Breakaway bombsite – that particular bomb blast turned the surrounding dirt into glass – so it seemed fitting that I made the cloud out of glass yams.

“I think the fact that I can make the yams out of my own breath, I find it empowering. It’s part of who I am. It’s something I feel really strongly about. It’s something I think about every day. I am quite proud that I am able to tell my grandfather’s story through my artwork.”

Yhonnie Scarce

I left the museum…

I left the museum to make the long walk to the War Memorial and WAIT What’s THIS! I knew this was here from the big LACMA exhibit but had forgotten and was >this< close to missing it altogether! Within without 2010 by James Turrell.

Moving on, that’s the…

Moving on, that’s the National Carillon in the distance. Canberra is a capital city not so favorable to walking.

Here’s some wiki: “The site of Canberra was selected for the location of the nation’s capital in 1908 as a compromise between rivals Sydney and Melbourne, Australia’s two largest cities. It is unusual among Australian cities, being an entirely planned city outside of any state, similar to Washington, D.C. in the United States, or Brasília in Brazil.

“Following an international contest for the city’s design, a blueprint by American architects Walter Burley Griffin and Marion Mahony Griffin was selected and construction commenced in 1913. The Griffins’ plan featured geometric motifs such as circles, hexagons and triangles, and was centred on axes aligned with significant topographical landmarks in the Australian Capital Territory.”

The problem is all those circles and hexagons and triangles are actually street patterns for neighborhoods which are now isolated from each other by roaring highways and separated further by huge gardens and waterways.

I heard that Canberra…

I heard that Canberra was the coldest major city in Australia and they even have some deciduous trees here, none of them native but they do well.

This morning (before I went out!) it was 27 degrees.

Walking back to my…

Walking back to my hotel I gave up, and finding a bus or even a taxi was not happening. It was Sunday, only around 6, but dark and there was not one place open, just walk walk walk through darkness ‘a little lost’ until I came upon this place – pizza and board games!

They were so nice in there and one guy called for a taxi and stood outside with me until the taxi arrived. It was an excellent day.

The gardens of the…

June 19

The gardens of the University House where I’ve had a sweet little old-fashioned room with bathroom-down-the-hall.

I ate one meal here, breakfast this morning, and it was amazingly delicious. This was the first day of the new menu and I think I had the first delivery of this menu item.

“Zucchini, corn, and halloumi fritters with tomato and avocado salsa, poached egg, and tomato relish”. Nice!

Susan picked me up…

Susan picked me up for our outing to the Parliament House. We had tickets to sit in on Question Time where the opposition party questions the party in power and everyone hoots and points and generally acts up.

Very Brit. I had a fabulous time listening to politicians who could speak extemporaneously on a number of issues and in full sentences no less.

We went on a…

We went on a tour with an excellent guide.

At the beginning of the tour he made remarks that sounded like a chant. I asked him when they added this chant to the tour and he said around 2000.

Here are some details from wiki: “An Acknowledgment of Country … is a way of showing awareness of and respect for the traditional owners of the land on which a meeting or event may be being held.

“There is no formal wording but usually follows something like “I would like to acknowledge that this meeting is being held on the traditional lands of the (appropriate group) people, and pay my respect to elders both past and present.” Whatever the wording it usually makes reference to the traditional custodians and the elders past and present of those traditional custodians.”

Look! Susan made…

Look! Susan made fish! I love fish!

My plan was to just let my birthday go for a while which is very unlike me since I usually advise strangers on the street that, yes, today is my birthday and congratulations are welcome.

But my big sister told Michael and Susan and so I got FISH…

…and CAKE!…

…and CAKE!

Susan has been so over-the-top generous with her time and energy and FOOD, it’s been entirely awesome and I am grateful to her and the whole family for making me so welcome.

Thank You THANK YOU!

Farewell Canberra Hello MELBOURNE!I…

June 20

Farewell Canberra Hello MELBOURNE!

I was pronouncing it as in Mel-(Jason)-Bourne, but NO! A guy at the pizza and board game place said ‘let me help you, say Melbn and you’ll sound like a native’ also confirmed by my relatives in Canberra, so MELBN it is!

(And Thanks Again to All the Houghtons: Michael, Susan, Limea, Will, Ester)

…and this is another…

…and this is another corner.

The hotel is part of the Ibis chain but it’s an acquisition, a much older property ‘established in 1880’ that hasn’t been refurbished in an age. But the price was right for the excellent location and I have a huge comfortable room.

Saint Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral….

Saint Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral.

The fellow here was a volunteer guide who was eager to answer any question and volunteered to highlight many points of interest.

The stained glass doors are relatively new and there’s a story but I forget it!

Usually in cathedrals the stained glass makes you look but here the floors were for me the defining feature.

From Saint Paul’s website:…

From Saint Paul’s website: “St Paul’s stands at the very heart of the City of Melbourne. In style, it echoes the grand Cathedrals of Europe. Designed by distinguished English revival architect William Butterfield, the Cathedral is built in the neo-Gothic transitional style, partly Early English and partly Decorated. Many consider St Paul’s to be Butterfield’s final masterpiece.

“The Cathedral’s foundation stone was laid in 1880, and work continued for eleven years, leading to the consecration of St Paul’s Cathedral on 22 January 1891.”

Interesting that my hotel says it was established in 1880 too.

…look at those floors!…

…look at those floors!

Wiki: “The floor tiles and dado (wall tiles) are features of Butterfield’s original design. The floors are of imported marble and alabaster, with richly patterned tiles by Maw & Co., UK.”

This is a chain…

This is a chain called Pie Face. I got the peppered beef and it was tasty. It has a chain restaurant reputation so I’m interested to eat one with a good reputation. I’d eat one of these again.

Gathering for the I’m…

Gathering for the I’m Free walking tour of the CBD (Central Business District – all cities have one called CBD rather than ‘downtown’).

It was a big crowd but very well done nonetheless.

The tour focused on the history of Melbourne and in particular the Victorian Gold Rush boom and subsequent bust which left many of the most important buildings and entire Victorian neighborhoods remain intact.

This is the UNESCO…

This is the UNESCO World Heritage Royal Exhibition Building and from their website: “The Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens were completed in 1880 for Melbourne’s first international exhibition, a product of the optimism, enthusiasm and energy of the people of Melbourne in the late-19th century.

“Melbourne was a prosperous city, basking in the wealth from the richest gold rush in the world. How better to publicise the achievements and opportunities in the colony of Victoria than by hosting an international exhibition?”

Look at that, 1880 again.

These are commissioned works….

These are commissioned works.

Melbourne has developed a policy regarding street art that both encourages building owners to allow sanctioned work and discourage any other kinds of graffiti.

Tomorrow I’m going to have a tour that focuses on street art. Here we’re just doing a pass-by.

“The City of Melbourne…

“The City of Melbourne recognizes the importance of street art in contributing to a vibrant urban culture. Melbourne’s street art is internationally renowned and has become an attraction for local and overseas visitors experiencing Melbourne’s creative ambience.

“We have conducted research and community consultation which revealed that most people do not like graffiti ‘tagging’ (a person writing their graffiti name or ‘tag’ on a wall with marker or paint). However, many people appreciate ‘street art’ such as larger, more artistic pieces, or murals placed in appropriate locations with the required permission.”

A shopping arcade of…

A shopping arcade of which there are many.

The alleyways have also become lively scenes of shops and restaurants and the city decided to make this happen by encouraging street art in the alleys, encouraging outdoor dining, and relaxing liquor licensing.

The National Gallery of…

The National Gallery of Victoria, closed unfortunately. I’m going to miss a lot here in Melbourne because I only gave myself two full days and a couple hours on arrival and a couple hours before I have to leave.

This is the front…

June 22

This is the front building of the Queen Victoria Market. Inside that building are rows and rows of meat, poultry, and fish stalls.

But wait, there’s more. So Much More.

There are acres of…

There are acres of this market including individual buildings for fruit and veg, deli and takeaway, clothes and tchotchkes, and maybe even more.

This sweet cutie was passing out nice generous slabs of delicious cheese. YUM. Another was passing out tiny little quarter teaspoons of cheese but they had Quince Paste!

It’s huge, the largest…

It’s huge, the largest church in Australia but the main nave is surprisingly plain especially in the windows, the side chapels are missing, and the transept is so modest. The altar is pretty fancy though.

Welcome to the Melbourne…

Welcome to the Melbourne Street Art Walking Tour.

Melbourne decided to go all in on street art and for me it’s got weird.

I’ll start off saying I didn’t see even one of my favorite type of work, the super-site-specific, in-and-out, middle-of-the-night, piece that can only be right where it is and nowhere else because it speaks to everything around it.

There wasn’t even one.

The city has designated many of the alleyways as free space and anyone can put work on the wall. It turns into a mess of thoughtlessness and all the references to street art culture are gone in these alleys because anyone can just walk up there and spray whatever over whatever without thought to what came before.

On good walls the pieces are in conversation with each other but not here.

And the other thing…

And the other thing the city did was encourage private sponsorship of large scale works.

These things can be quite wonderful but they’re not street art. They’re murals I think, because the artists can take their time…there’s no risk and the works lack street art edge.

The tour ended at…

The tour ended at a studio out in the edge of the city, in the Docklands, but still within the free tram zone so that’s good. Street artists are sharing this space in individual ‘cubes’.

There are 5 Japanese…

June 23

There are 5 Japanese take-away places in every block. It was amazing. So I asked google to tell me why but she didn’t know.

Two and half days is way not enough for Melbourne. You can get more in in the summer probably, when it stays light and more things are open later. I visited no museums, no gardens, I didn’t make it out to the restaurant Les recommended as the best fish he ate in Australia, I didn’t ride on the Great Ocean Road or watch the penguin parade…so many interesting things I didn’t do.

Recommendation #1: stay inside the free tram zone. Getting around is so easy you don’t have to give it a second thought. I’d even recommend Little Collins Street. My hotel was there, yes, and it was perfect for food, fun, and getting around.

And now off to TASMANIA!

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