Dear readers, it has been some time since we have posted a blog.
Although we have been missing in action online we have still been having some adventures. For example, Tracey was in Norway for three months doing some creative research into her ancestry. Her project Waters of the Past has resulted in some wonderful collaborations and connections. The project was also presented in a number of exhibitions and symposium, such as Balance UnBalance 2017 and RIXC Open Fields 2017.
Tracey’s project was also featured in the Drammen newspaper. Please don’t ask for a translation 🙂
We had an amazing time in Norway, the highlight of this was our fjord journey up the west coast to Tromsø – more on that later 😉 Here is some teasers:
This year we don’t plan to go too far from home ground. We have lots of short trips planned and we look forward to sharing with you some of the great places we enjoy here in the Australian Alpine region – better known by Aussies as ‘the high country’.
We will publish a new article from us each month as well as feature some guest writers. Contact us if you would like to submit something for publication.
Today’s post is a feeble attempt to try and catch up from over three months of not writing. The bad habit of missing days started with a day here or there but now I find that I haven’t written for weeks. There is really no excuse, perhaps except that I have been caught up with a number of art projects, which should count for something 🙂
My subject today is the place I live, the capital city of Australia, Canberra. As an attempt to make up for missing 84 posts, at the end of this post are 84 places worth visiting around the region, some of which have already been written about. Although it is a numbered list, it is not a list of best to worst, it is only as list of places as they came to mind.
Last week Canberra and the Australian Capital Territory was determined the best place in the world to live, according a report by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Canberra led the regional ranking while Australia topped the overall country rankings, followed by Norway.
The OECD ranked 362 regions of its 34 member nations in its survey. Seven areas were assessed: Health, Safety, Access to services, Civic engagement, Jobs, Education, Environment and Income.
One of the things I love about living in Canberra, is the many bushwalking trails both in Canberra and in the region. Only yesterday, we walked up Mt Majura, to do some exploring as part of a project I am developing for Long Time No See? On our way back down the mountain we came across some other walkers who were doing the Centenary Trail, having walked from Parliament House. This trail certainly looks challenging and perhaps something to pursue.
Day 90: Tulip Top Gardens, Old Federal Highway, Sutton NSW
Today we went to Tulip Top Gardens to see the beautiful display of spring flowers. The gardens are not as big or as busy as Floriade, which makes it a relaxing time in the gardens. As part of the entry fee we got a sausage sizzle and some Dutch Pancakes – yum!! Apparently it was a ‘special’ day as the pancakes are not always available. As you walk through the gardens, piped music makes for a lovely ambience and a feeling of being lost in time, to another, more genteel time and place.
Spring in the Capital region is a stunning time of year, when the Wattles are in bloom alongside the Apple, Peach, Cherry and Plum trees. To make this colourful display even more brilliant are the many Daffodils, Jonquils,Tulips, Pansy and Sweet Peas.
Yesterday we went to the National Arboretum which was a great way to spend a bit of time on a Saturday afternoon.
The Visitor’s Centre is a beautiful building, with some stunning design features which I hope I have captured below. The use of local timbers and stone has been used to great effect and it is a lovely building to enjoy both from the inside and the outside.
What is the Arboretum?
An arboretum (pronounced ar-bo-re-tum) is a collection of living trees, cultivated for conservation, scientific, research and educational purposes.
The National Arboretum Canberra first opened in February 2013, and has attracted many visitors from Canberra, Australia and around the world. The Arboretum website says that:
It is already contributing to the protection of tree species and tree diversity world-wide, as well as generating new research and understanding about how trees grow, survive and adapt.
The aim of the Canberra Arboretum is to become one of the great arboreta in the world; a place of outstanding natural beauty, community amenity and scientific value.
The Arboretum is home to 94 forests of rare, endangered and symbolic trees from Australia and around the world. More than 48,000 trees grow on the 250 hectare (618 acres or 2.5 million square metres) site, with species from over 100 countries. Map of the Arboretum (PDF). You can also take a number of walks around the Arboretum. At the Village Centre you can get a free map of the self-guided walking trails or downloaded the guide here (PDF).
Day 79: Mount Stromlo Observatory, Canberra, ACT, Australia
Today we went to one of my favourite places for a weekend drive on a winter day: Mount Stromlo. When there is snow up on the Brindabella Ranges, it is a beautiful place to see the snow on the mountains. Although there was no snow (despite the cold weather of late), it was a lovely afternoon for taking some photos.
The Mount Stromlo Observatory located just outside of Canberra, is part of the Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics at the Australian National University (ANU).
A bit of background from Mr Wikipedia:
The observatory was established in 1924 as The Commonwealth Solar Observatory. The Mount Stromlo site had already been used for observations in the previous decade, a small observatory being established there by Pietro Baracchi using the Oddie telescope being located there in 1911.
When we first moved to Canberra in 2001, it was a place of wonderment and we had a great day exploring all the telescopes dotted on top of the mountain.
On 18 January 2003, a devastating firestorm hit Canberra and Mount Stromlo (which was surrounded by a plantation pine forest) endured significant damage. The fire destroyed five telescopes, workshops, seven homes, and the heritage-listed administration building.
I have pulled together a little photo essay to present this lovely place, complete with photographs of ruins and some of the existing telescopes.
Day 70: National Gallery of Australia (NGA), Canberra, Australia
Today I had hoped to go bushwalking as it has been a long time since we went for a walk on the weekend. However, we were thwarted by bad weather – cold, fog and rain. Anyway, I was still really keen to get out of the house and have a walk around even if it was indoors, so suggested that we go to the NGA. I also wanted to go to the gallery as there were two temporary exhibitions that were of particular interest – Bali: Island of the Gods and Atua: Sacred Gods of Polynesia.
Both of these exhibitions were excellent. I knew before even arriving at the gallery that I would love the work in the exhibition about Bali, as I adore Balinese culture and love Balinese artworks, especially drawings, paintings and carvings. I am especially drawn to the epic stories told in these works, especially the Hindu classics the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. There were also some beautiful textiles works in the show, some of which were used for shrines – which were lovely. My favourite works were some incredible drawings on palm leaves with Indian ink. The detail was so intricate and beautifully executed – I have never seen anything quite like it.
The exhibition of Polynesian works had a diverse selection of (Atua) God and Goddess figures from a range of areas and cultures in Polynesia. Many works were from the 18th and early 19th century and there were also some engravings from the text documenting Captain Cook’s third voyage to the Southern Hemisphere. My favourite works were some amazing small wood carvings for God figures from Rapa Nui (Easter Island) and some beautiful Maori carvings, especially the piece pictured below.
Both exhibitions are free, though be warned that there is a little shop out the front of the exhibitions with some very tempting items. I could not resist the catalogue from the Bali show as I wanted to look back at the beautiful palm leaf drawings.
Dates Atua: Sacred Gods of Polynesia 23 May – 3 August 2014 Bali: Island of the Gods 13 June – 3 August 2014
National Gallery of Australia
General information +61 2 6240 6411
For visitors with mobility difficulties +61 2 6240 6411
Ginninderra Falls is located less than 10 minutes drive from where I live, but I have never been there. It is a place that my husband Marty has talked about often as somewhere he used to go swimming in the summer months when he was growing up in Canberra.
In years gone by, the falls used to be open to the public, even though they were on private land. In more recent years the land owners stopped people from visiting this lovely location.
I am not totally sure why the falls are no longer open to the public, perhaps the property changed hands? This lovely photo by Roy Torkington shows how picturesque the site is.
Strange animal the size of a 3-month-old calf seen basking on a sandbank near water’s edge. The creature wriggled into the water and disappeared from view.
For readers unfamiliar with the term Bunyip, it is a mythical Aboriginal creature that dwells close to waterholes and creeks. Mr Wikipedia says about Bunyips:
The bunyip, or kianpraty, is a large mythical creature from Aboriginal mythology, said to lurk in swamps, billabongs, creeks, riverbeds, and waterholes. The origin of the word bunyip has been traced to the Wemba-Wemba or Wergaia language of Aboriginal people of South-Eastern Australia
Through the energy and commitment of a local conservation group, there are moves to establish the area as a national park, which would be wonderful. Local environmentalist and media personality Tim the Yowie Man, wrote an article in the Sydney Morning Herald in 2011, titled Ginninderra Falls For All of Us.
I hope one day to visit this lovely site as it would be wonderful to experience such a magnificent place so close to home.
Today, I am writing about a place I love which is very close to Canberra, but over the years has been much maligned by Canberrans, who thumb their noses at Queanbeyan calling it “Struggle town” amongst other things.
When I first moved to Canberra from Queensland I did not relate to the orderly lego-like city of Canberra and found Queanbeyan a welcome reprieve as it had character and the feel of a country town.
The word Queanbeyan is the anglicised form of Quinbean – which is an Aboriginal word meaning “clear waters”. It is no surprise that there is a reference to waters in the town’s name as it sits on a bend of a river.
Queanbeyan was established as a town long before Canberra was planned as the national capital in the early 1900s. Here is some history from Wikipedia:
The town grew from a squattage held by ex-convict and inn keeper, Timothy Beard, on the banks of the Molonglo River in what is now Oaks Estate. The town centre of Queanbeyan is located on the Queanbeyan River, a tributary of the Molonglo River and about one mile east of Oaks Estate. Queanbeyan was officially proclaimed a township in 1838 when the population was about 50.
Over the years Queanbeyan has supported many different industries from mining, manufacturing, agriculture to high tech industries like solar.
Interestingly, in the early days of Canberra, people would not have been too snooty about crossing the border to spend time in Queanbeyan. Canberra was a “dry” town from 1911 at the time of the foundation of the Australian Capital Territory until 1928 when Federal Parliament relocated from Melbourne. In that period many of the capital’s residents crossed the border to drink at one of Queanbeyan’s hotels.
Queanbeyan remains an interesting town which has a lot going for it. We enjoyed living there for two years and loved the strong sense of community that exists in this much underrated town.
You never know who you might meet in Canberra, despite the city having a reputation as the most ‘boring’ capital city in Australia. In an earlier post Canberra Doesn’t Suck, I mentioned that this is a very creative city, drawing highly skilled and diverse people from around the world to work and live here. What makes this place even more interesting, is that many people have multiple lives or histories before they come to settle in Canberra. Rev. Petros Kipouros is one such person. I came to know of Rev. Kipouros through his daughter, a student of mine at university. Most people in Canberra would know him as the priest at the Greek Orthadox Church, but he has another fascinating story to tell – of his work as a travel photographer, photographing people from all over the world.
His images have been reproduced in National Geographic and he has published a number of books. There are also a number of articles published online that discuss the fascinating connections between his role as a minister and that of an artist and traveller. For example, Elina Kourempana’s 2013 article titled The Sensitive Eye in NeosCosmos discusses the connections between seeing light as a photographer and seeing the light in a spiritual context. In many ways his photographic work has been influenced by the Impressionists because of his love of light as an element in his work. In the interview for NeosCosmos Rev. Kipourus said “The word photography means ‘writing with light’. It is great to ‘write’, record the light during all the times of the day and the year.” Another article by Richard Carter in the Times Record News titled Globe Trotting Greek comments that:
Kipouros has won prizes for his photography from National Geographic competitions and has had several photographic exhibitions, three in his hometown and one nearby…While he enjoys taking pictures with his Canon EOS camera of nature and landscapes, he tends to focus more on people. “People and their lives are very interesting,” he said.
You can buy his coffee table book Colourful Facebook: Father Petros on Blurb. On the Blurb website you can also see a preview of this beautiful book. Rev. Kipouros has also allowed us to publish some of these wonderful images on Geokult Travel and we very much appreciate being able to share these gorgeous pictures with you. We would also like to thank his daughter Chrysa for all her help.
Day 47: Handmade Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia
Today I am cheating a bit as I am talking about an event, not a place – but don’t hang me on a technicality.
The Canberra Handmade Market is held four times a year at the Canberra Convention Centre and brings together some of Australia’s most innovative designers and craftspeople. It started in 2008, the brainchild of Julie and Rachel who saw a need for such an event. Since then it has become a massive affair, and the girls now have a shop in Civic – which I wrote about in an earlier post – No, Canberra doesn’t suck!.
Just as a quick aside: Emma Pearse recently reported in the New York Times that Canberra was in fact a cool place to be – and that is not just literally! If you are interested, check out Emma’s article 36 hours in Canberra, Australia for more information.
Back to the market. This time around there were around 150 stalls with a broad range of products including skin care, lighting, jewellery, clothing, and craft. For me there were a few standouts. We loved the fragrant soaps from bodybar and had a lovely time chatting to Steve and Viv, who incidentally come from the Coff’s region. The soaps use lovely natural ingredients like goat’s milk, coconut oil and essential oils. One of the soaps smelt so good I wanted to eat it, which is sort of funny considering I was often threatened to have my mouth washed out with soap, when I was a naughty kid and caught swearing. Anyway, what I really love about this product is the care taken in all stages of the product lifecycle to be sustainable and care for the environment. Their website says:
We take the greatest care in sourcing the finest fresh and natural ingredients and make them with a strong ethical commitment to our environment. We do all the regular stuff, recycling our waste etc, however we also put a lot of work into other aspects of our production cycle. Our bars are made locally from local goats milk, our bags are made by us out of newspapers that we buy and read, and we minimise package and waste wherever possible.
Above is a pic of Steve and Viv and their lovely products. Needless to say, we walked away with some goodies from their stall 🙂
The other stall that had some stand-out work for me was a jewellery stall – John Hablitschek Gems. Most of the pieces on this stall were one-off works of art, featuring very rare gemstones, like Australian Turquoise. Check out some of these beautiful pieces below.
We had a lovely morning checking out the market and look forward to the next time it is on – October 4 and 5. Here are some random images from our travels around the many stalls.