Sunday, September 29, 2013


It's that time again when Canberrans go blooming crazy and everybody gets tulip fever. Here are some photos from this year's Floriade.

I have no idea what the question was
A break from tulips with an edible display
The whole gnome thing was a bit surreal
Surely, they should know better by now?
King Gnome Alley (apparently)
Centenary Dragon-boating gnomes

And meanwhile, away from the Gnome Knoll, back into the 'real' world...

Statue of Sir Robert Menzies, Australia's longest serving Prime Minister, who enthusiastically supported the construction of Lake Burley Griffin

Monday, September 23, 2013

Open House (and Gardens)

The Governor General had an open house and garden party and, as it was a delightful sunny spring day, we went along to enjoy the festivities.

Stilt-walking Galah
The Reptiles Inc people were there with some of their reptiles in cages and in hand - I think it's a great idea that they get people used to these amazing beasts so people learn to show respect rather than blind panic in dealing with them.

I'm not sure about that dodgy geezer in the background

Meanwhile people were roaming the lawns, playing cricket,  taking tethered balloon rides, admiring the fire engines, indulging in equestrian games, and generally soaking up the atmosphere.

The police motorbike was a big hit with all ages!

It was great to see the Defence Forces out and about in a variety of guises. This young chap is helped by a fire-fighter (not exactly very old, himself) to play a game knocking down flame images with a high pressure hose. It looked a lot of fun actually!

Army parachutist
Now, I know I'm not a fan of children, but sometimes, when they are dressed in bright colours and you can't hear them whining, they can almost look cute. And this one has a balloon!

Food break - we were well catered for with heaps of stalls selling all sorts of appetising treats. We got a steak and red wine and a lamb and mint jelly pie from Gum Tree Pies - they really do make good stuff!

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you the Skywhale. 

Patricia Piccinini's Skywhale
Artist and sculptor Patricia Piccinini was commissioned to create an artwork as part of the Canberra Centenary. This was what she came up with. Her inspiration was the planned nature of Canberra as a slightly false but very arty city plonked in the middle of nowhere. 

Skywhale is a marine mammal which finds itself literally out of water, trying to fit in and then struggling to take off until eventually soaring above while looking down with a serene expression. Like the city it represents, it was commissioned and designed quite simply but then everyone has had to give their opinion on it without understanding it.

I actually like it but it has many more detractors than supporters. Many people object to the udders hanging on either side, which are meant to represent the way a whale nourishes her calves and the way Canberra mothers the nation. 

Many people are embarrassed and awkward about the public display of these things from breasts to politicians, which they would prefer just happened without ever being considered too deeply. Whatever the response, it has provoked huge debate, and surely that is the nature of art?

The Governor General's Rolls-Royce

While people wait to enter the house on guided tours, they are entertained by a line-up of vintage cars, musicians, jugglers, and a science bloke who demonstrates centrifugal force by spinning bicycle wheels on the heads of unsuspecting tourists.

No photos are allowed from inside the house, but it's very nice - trust me.

Australian Army Band Kapooka
Our Honourable Host, Governor General Quentin Bryce