Canberra in winter: Parrots, the Lake, and Edmund Barton, first Prime Minister of Australia

Canberra has a crisp blue-sky beauty in winter…..and for those of us who live in leafy suburbs, it is all about the birds that visit our gardens, and brighten a cold day.

Winter is the time for King Parrots in our garden…. and this year they are searching, in particular, for fresh water. Almost every morning they check the gutters of our cabin for frosty water pools warmed by the morning sun.

Although King Parrots are relatively large, they are sweet, shy birds, always in pairs, and easily frightened away..

Once they have had a drink, they often fly to the Japanese Maple, right near the sunroom window…

Look at the beautiful red and dark green markings on the tail and underbelly of this bird, as David Attenborough says, the natural world is so full of beauty…

Our regular Sulphur Crested Cockatoos are also looking for water..

…and, rather like school inspectors, they investigate the garden thoroughly

and we are found wanting …….

Where are the bird baths?

What happened to all the almonds?

I have the feeling we are getting zero out of ten for this old bird bath..

Hardly any water, shabby looking, almost toppling over..

The only reason we are here is because your neighbours are neglecting theirs…

The birds are great fun to watch while I am resting and waiting for my wrist to mend. Many thanks for all the well wishes, my wrist is now almost back to normal, and all is well.

Apart from watching birds from the sunroom window, I have been catching up on some reading,

This book, called ”The Good, the Bad, and the Unlikely”  is a very short history of Australian Prime Ministers.

It is written by the irreverent and humorous journalist Mungo Maccallum.

Commonwealth Avenue Bridge. Some of the flat stones from London’s Waterloo Bridge (when it was demolished) were donated to this bridge when it was built in 1963.

Inspired by my reading, I wanted to take a photo of the statue of Edmund Barton, the first Prime Minister of Australia. His statue is appropriately in the suburb of Barton, and we decided to incorporate a walk around Commonwealth Park, near the centre of the city, before taking the photo.

Despite being a clear winter’s day, there was a biting cold wind, and all walkers and cyclists have long abandoned the Lake and are warming up in coffee shops all over Canberra.

Commonwealth Avenue Bridge, Lake Burley Griffin, and the Captain Cook Memorial

The Captain James Cook Memorial is combination of the water jet, and a terrestrial globe, and commemorates the bicentenary of Captain Cook’s landing on the east coast of Australia in 1770. The three routes of Cook’s voyages, are inscribed on the surrounding handrail.

The stunning jet  of water always attracts the eyes of tourists, especially children.  Many years ago, as a young teacher in Canberra, I met up with friends and we hired a little boat, and rowed around the fountain.

We were thrilled to get thoroughly wet by the jet spray……they seem such innocent times now!

The above photo was taken in winter a few years ago…the photo below was July 2018, absolutely freezing…..even the resident pelican looked downcast.

However, a pair of Crimson Rosellas were steadily eating their way through some scattered seeds from overhanging trees.

Across the lake from Commonwealth Park there is a view of Old Parliament House (now the Museum of Democracy) and behind it,  Parliament House today (under repair as the roof has been leaking).

Here is another, much closer, photo of Parliament House. Much clearer without the repair work tent over the roof!

And here is the handsome statue of Edmund Barton….

According to Mungo Maccallum, Australia’s first Prime Minister, Edmund Barton had one unique quality…he managed to unite a fractious group of politicians and colonies into creating a federation… in Mungo’s words..

Like most of their descendants, this motley bunch (the politicians at the time) were driven by a combination of idealism and self-interest, and getting them to agree on anything substantial was like herding a football team into a temperance meeting room.

Politicians all over Australia, agreed to become… as Barton says,

”a nation for a continent, and a continent for a nation

What a talent! I wonder how successful he would be if he tried that today!

Here is another sculpture of Edmund Barton, which is in The Prime Ministers’ Avenue, set in the magnificent Horse Chestnut Avenue of the Gardens in Ballarat. Well worth a visit, in every season.




I hope you are enjoying your green spaces, where ever you live in the world….each season has a beauty of its own.


Copyright Geraldine Mackey: All Rights Reserved


23 Replies to “Canberra in winter: Parrots, the Lake, and Edmund Barton, first Prime Minister of Australia”

  1. Thoroughly enjoyed all the birds in your garden and the interesting walk, great photographs. Glad to read that your wrist is mending you have been very patient.

  2. As usual, an interesting read, Geraldine. It is looking a bit too much on the chilly side for me – though I do like those sharp blue skies & mirror lakes.

    Breakfast with my garden birds is my favourite way to pass the day.

  3. I’m glad you’re on the mend Gerrie. The birds must be a wonderful diversion. The underside of the King Parrot has the makings of a marvellous sunset!

  4. It is very green here today because we are receiving some much needed rain. Our entire area is in drought status, not severe yet, but we are certainly happy to received some moisture. 🙂 Your local birds always make me smile because of their striking color. 🙂

  5. Loved learning a little about Edmund Barton, and seeing his statue. Commonwealth park does look like a lovely place, teeming with wildlife. Oh, your birds!!!! The king parrots are just gorgeous, those marking under the tail are beautiful. You had me laughing re the cheeky cockatoos….wonderful writing! I am so pleased to hear your wrist is almost mended. Watching the birds must make recuperating so much easier!xxx

  6. You have the greatest birds! Ours are boring by comparison. It does look like the cockatoos are sniffing at your birdbath, like gourmet diners contemplating a hot dog stand. Your king parrots sound a lot like our mourning doves, except much more colorful.

    1. I think the cockatoos are very good at signalling disapproval, and they sure do look as if they have landed on a hot dog stand!

  7. It is wonderful to see so many birds, it does fell cold looking at your pictures in comparison with our heat wave! Glad your wrist is improving you are right that it is better to have your injury in the winter rather than the summer when there is so much more to do and outside is more enticing. Sarah x

    1. Thanks Sarah, yes, much better all round to have a wrist in plaster in winter….much too hot in summer for the cast!

  8. What gorgeous birds you have there, Gerrie. Love the title of the book and also the statue. Very handsome indeed. You certainly have a beautiful place in which to recuperate. So happy your wrist is almost 100% better.

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