Canberra is the capital of Australia, a planned city, with many parks, bush trails, green spaces and lakes. However as with many capital cities, Canberra is often seen as short hand for federal government rather than a landscape where people live. One quote I’ve read is “”Canberra has too many politicians, too many roundabouts and too much cold weather!”
When I retired from teaching in 2013, I decided to write a blog about Canberra, the beauty of the mountains and the lakes, and also the every day life of people living in Canberra.
Many of the photos of Canberra in this post were taken between 2014 and 2017, when I began blogging, and regular readers may recognise some of the photos…
Canberra in autumn is usually sunny, warm and pleasant, the best season of the year for planning gardens, going for walks, runs and rides, and taking photos!
Spring in Canberra can be windy and chilly, but the beautiful Manchurian Pears are out in bloom, which lifts the spirits. The National Library of Australia is one of my favourite buildings, often seen in my blog, I know! The small rather quaint tourist boat has, for many years, taken tourists who prefer a gentle slow tour of the lake.
In our early days of retirement, I was so keen to take photos that I dragged Paul out before dawn to walk around Lake Burley Griffin…. always worth it.
Canberra is full of early morning rowers, riders and walkers.
We often walk around the Parliamentary Triangle, and I love this Federal Government building…amongst others.
All along the paths the trees are changing, and the birds are in attendance.
During summer and autumn we eat breakfast on our deck, overlooking our garden.
At the risk of getting indigestion we often have an interrupted breakfast to chase big and little birds out of the veggie patch..
Thank you for taking the time to read my post today, and may your autumn or spring gardens be full of colour and joy.
After a long and isolated two years of Covid, everyone I know is cautiously enjoying a normal life again. However, another hurdle for some states in Australia is the excessive rain we have had this year, and in the last three years.
Every year Canberra has a spring festival called Floriade in September to October. (except for the last two Covid years.)
I wondered if the rain would ever stop long enough for all the bulbs to grow, and the potted flower displays to survive.
Unfortunately Paul and I missed Floriade, but we visited another wonderful flower display, on the outskirts of Canberra called Tulip Top Garden.
The weather was warm, bright and sunny! Oh the joy of it all…
It seemed hard to believe, but for a week or two in early spring we had sunny days and no rain!
As I have often mentioned, Paul and I frequently drive to Melbourne to visit our daughter and the family. In September we planned a trip to Victoria to see them.
The drive from Canberra to Melbourne takes about 8 hours, so we always plan a few stops along the way. Our first coffee break is usually at a Victorian country town called Benalla.
The Art Gallery and café have table and chairs on the deck, to sit and look over the lake. On warm mornings, it is a wonderful spot for coffee, and sometimes scones and cream.
Wrapped around the Art Gallery is a lovely park, and during Covid we sat in the park with our flask of coffee and a sandwich and enjoyed the greenery.
One summer as we parked the car near the Gallery and we saw a lovely old fashioned horse drawn draught wagon. The wagon was advertising beer, but the handsome looking Clydesdales stole the show.
We made our trip to Melbourne, and it rained all the way. It was lovely to see our family, and we were able to do all the things we planned, but as the week went by, the rain continued and there was some flooding in Melbourne’s lower lying suburbs.
With so much rain in Victoria last year, all the catchments were completely soaked. Rivers were flooding and lower lying country towns around Victoria began to flood. Many of the farms around these areas lost all their spring crops.
We delayed our trip home, and fortunately the highway re-opened at the end of the weekend. We were able to drive home, but we could not stop at either of our favourite towns, Benalla and our lunchtime stop, Seymour. This is another friendly Victorian town, where the café menus are varied and the food is delicious.
This is an aerial photo of Seymour before the flooding, and after ..
I must add that many parts of New South Wales and Queensland have suffered severe floods during 2022 and all the states affected are struggling to get back to normal.
Best wishes to all the families who are experiencing flooding this year, and especially to those having to evacuate their homes.
During a few short weeks we went from Tulip Top gardens to serious flooding…. Australia’s weather is either a feast or a famine, and add that to climate change!
Thank you for taking the time to read my post today and may your weather be settled where ever you are in the world.!
Winter arrived in Canberra on 1st June with snow falling on the Brindabella Mountains
During autumn we had seemingly non-stop rain and so the occasional wintery, but sunny day was welcome. The storm water drains around the inner city were flowing steadily with water, hard to believe after so many years of drought, not so long ago.
We have taken to walking our daughter’s dog Charlie once a week, which is very good exercise and we visit parts of the city with good walking/cycling tracks.
One of my favourite walks is through Haig Park. This park reminds me of parks in Europe, perhaps as so many of the mature trees are European, and as in Europe, people stroll through the park all week and all through winter.
The park was planned and trees planted in about 1921, as a wind break shelter within the city. 7000 trees were planted, mostly exotic evergreen and deciduous trees.
Since that time the park has had times of neglect, but is now a wonderful addition to inner city living.
However, in contrast to European parks we have possums rather than squirrels and many different colourful birds..
Despite the regular walkers, and a very popular, busy market in the park on the weekend, there are plenty of birds to be seen everywhere.
Eastern Rosellas are very shy parrots, so I was happy to get a photo of these two Rosellas.
Last week we went to Sydney to visit Paul’s mother, and on the way home we stopped off at one of our favourite bookshops Berkelouw Book Barn.
This inviting Book Barn has a roaring fire in winter, and is a wonderful place to browse for books, (second-hand and new ones) at any season of the year. We always have coffee and sometimes cake, which provides the fuel needed to hunt out new books and second-hand books. We came away with an interesting pile of books, as always..
Nowadays the Book Barn is also a restaurant and a wedding venue as well. However, these don’t start until midday, so the very best times to visit are the mornings and week days if possible.
Lastly, a flashback to autumn when we visited our family in Melbourne. We always stop about half way, at a small town in the Alpine region called Myrtleford. Next door to our Air BnB is a vacant block of land, which is used as a wildlife sanctuary.
This family of Kangaroos always come down cautiously to see us…no feeding required, .. they are just curious, or as the Aussie expression would have it, they are Sticky beaks!
Finally, my favourite photo of the year so far, a young kookaburra in our garden. Every winter about this time a family of kookaburras come to our garden. I’m sure the family love the fact that we have many birdbaths filled with water for them, and many worms in our vegetable garden..(Paul doesn’t love that side of things)
However, I like to think, and I’m sticking to my story, that they also come back to show us their latest very cute offspring.
Best wishes to everyone and thank you for taking the time to read my blog post.
We are living in a turbulent world these days, and during times like this I remember my mother, who concentrated always on the small, simple and pleasant parts of life, to help get through the difficult parts, and her favourite quote, as I have mentioned before:
”When the world wearies and society does not satisfy…. there is always the garden.” by Minnie Aumonier
Australia and New Zealand have a national day of remembrance for the first landing of the Anzacs at Gallipoli and it is also a day to remember all those who served and died in all wars.
Traditionally Anzac Day begins with a dawn service and then a commemorative march through cities, country towns and villages, in both Australia and New Zealand.
In Canberra people gather for the dawn service along Anzac Parade, looking up towards the War Memorial.
This year, there were record numbers of crowds at the dawn services and marches all over the country, perhaps as there have been no services in the last two years as a result of Covid.
However, more likely, the graphic and desperate war inflicted on the Ukraine has been a salutary reminder of the horrors of war, the effect on ordinary people, and the fragility of democracy.
Paul and I often walk past the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and see the many tributes and flowers offered to the Ukraine people. Some of the posters and art work from the local schools are extremely moving.
For many people Anzac Day is a once in year event when they can enjoy time with colleagues, friends and families. Not far from Canberra in the country town called Harden, the first Light Horse Brigade was formed over a century ago. (This Brigade was one of the founding units which made up the Australian Light Horse when all mounted troops were amalgamated in 1903 as a result of Federation)
Although we have not yet seen the Harden-Murrumburah march, Paul and I know this area well because we often travel along the Hume highway on our way to Melbourne to visit our daughter and family.
We always break our journey at one of the nearby villages called Jugiong. This is farming area, with plenty of history, a stopping place for farmers, and families who are camping along the Murrumbidgee River.
We have never seen cattle being herded through the town, but you never know what you are going to find in a country town..
However, we stop off in Jugiong, like many others, to visit the unassuming looking Long Track Pantry.
Juliet and Huw Robb, owners of Long Track Pantry combine their interest and knowledge of food, recipes, and cooking with local produce to make delicious light meals, homemade cakes, biscuits and scones, lovely frozen meals…the list goes on.
They also have Jules Leneham, a Cordon Bleu trained private caterer who runs cooking classes every Tuesday. Needless to say, we always organise our travelling to avoid Tuesday as the café is closed for the classes.
However, we always choose some of their lovely frozen meals to take with us to Melbourne (and on the return trip home…their soups are delicious in winter after a long drive) Occasionally we have their well known, simple, but tasty Anzac biscuits, with our coffee. This year I noticed they are doing a very special recipe, and calling it, Golden Syrup Anzac Cheesecake….it looks good!
Autumn is upon us here in Canberra, and we are having some lovely mild sunny days, almost time to visit Long Track Pantry again!
Best wishes, enjoy your spring or autumn plans, and thank you for taking the time to read my blog post.
Having featured the Sydney Opera House in my last post, this week the Opera House had displayed the colours of the Ukraine, appropriate for these times
With such turmoil in the world this week, it was a quiet distraction and a joy to take a photo of this lovely Gardenia….the creamy petals are just soaking up the rain amongst the dark green foliage. We have two Gardenias in our garden, and this one has never flowered until this summer. ….it has tried, but the flowers never quite made it.
This summer, according to the Bureau of Meteorology, in our region, we have had 200% more rain than our average summer rainfall. As Canberra is often in drought, there is something magical about rain, and everything is green and growing. However, it is possible to have too much of a good thing, and parts of Queensland and New South Wales are experiencing severe flooding. It is either a feast or famine in Australia.
Meanwhile, our garden is greener than normal, and the zucchinis threaten to take over, along with the borage… I’m looking up recipes which include zucchini whenever I can..
Canberra’s usual season for newborn birds is spring: September, October, November.
This very young magpie is a February baby, and is bravely learning to fly.
Perhaps the abundance of food this year has increased breeding time.
The cockatoos are having field day eating from all the fruit trees. In our immediate neighbourhood they are enjoying plums, apples and almonds..no wonder they look so healthy!
These young Galahs look quite endearing, but when they are waiting to be fed they make a very insistent chanting call. I’m glad they are not in our garden!
Recently my neighbour went for an early morning walk, and as she past Ken’s garden, she saw a kangaroo grazing. Kangaroos sometimes come down from Mount Taylor to eat on the sweet and abundant grasses in the surrounding suburbs.
I rushed out with my camera, but the kangaroo had disappeared by the that time.
However, I’ve added a photo of a kangaroo, because we do have many kangaroos living in the bushland between suburbs in Canberra. It is not unusual to see kangaroos on our morning walks. The photo below was taken on an early morning walk along Chapman Ridge.
When the rain finally stops, it is a joy to see the Brindabella Mountains again, especially as it was only two years since the devastating summer bushfires were burning on these mountains, how nature replenishes and repairs…
Many thanks for taking the time to read my blog, and best wishes to all those, especially children, trapped in the madness of war. Having taught many children from war-torn countries, what they taught me is to never give up hope.
This year, Australia, like so many other countries, has been battling against unusual weather patterns, in between coping with a pandemic. We have had an unprecedented amount of rain this year in our region. I read today that there might be a locust plague in the Eastern States of Australia due to our excessive rainfall.
Despite all this, as the Desiderata poem quotes,
“with all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world”
This wonderful poem was found in old Saint Paul’s Church, Baltimore dated 1692
To end the year, I’ve chosen some photos taken through the year, and the seasons.
Photos that show some of the more pleasurable moments in an otherwise difficult year.
Winter was particularly dreary this year, but we did have one highlight. Every afternoon, at almost exactly 4.00 pm this pair of King parrots came down to the bird bath. The female would drink, while the male perched on a branch of a nearby tree, then she would perch on the same branch while the male came down to drink. Then they flew off together.
Each following their instincts for survival, but touching none the less.
In spring the King Parrot pair, brought their young one to the wires above the garden almost every day to feed. What a delight!
During the winter we occasionally looked after our daughter’s dog Charlie.
Charlie doesn’t believe in sleep-ins, and I guess he is right, the winter mornings are lovely, especially with so much greenery and soft pinks and blues around mountains at dawn.
The pansies below have been in the garden for nearly two years! I don’t think we have ever had such a robust bed of pansies. Whatever anti-ageing tablets they are taking, I ‘d line up for them too!
They seem to be smiling all through winter.
I have often mentioned Ken’s garden in my posts. Ken is a neighbour, whose passion is his garden. He works tirelessly all through the winter to tend, not only his own garden, but to the verge around his property. This is a great public space for children to enjoy and for adults to chat.
Our own garden has never been so green, and shady…
Many thanks for reading my blog post today, I appreciate readers and comments, and enjoy following fellow bloggers, it is a wonderful window into other worlds.
Although Scotland is a long way from Australia, and a very long way from our unique animals, yet, we now have a lovely tartan material named Koala.
Fred and his sister Marie Lawson come from Spring Ridge near in Gunnedah in the New England region. They live on a property with Clydesdale horses, Scottish Highland cattle, and Irish donkeys, which Marie is breeding to re-establish the blood line in Australia. They are also keen weavers and interested in conservation of all kinds. Living close to the bush they came up with the idea of making a tartan to draw attention to the plight of koalas in Australia.
When asked, why a tartan for koalas, Fred said “Tartan is a language without words, it crosses all boundaries.” (this would bring a stirring to my Scottish father’s heart)
Koalas are completely dependent on Eucalyptus trees both for food and for a place to live. In recent times, the koala’s habitat has been severely reduced with increased urbanization. In addition the 2020 bush fires were devastating for koalas, and for their habitat.
Fred and Marie took several pattern trials before deciding on one, and that has now been approved by the World Tartan Register in Scotland. The colours include green for the Eucalyptus trees, dark and light grey for the koala’s coat colour, and black for the nose, with some pink and white for some parts of the koala’s face and coat.
Fred and Marie have officially registered and woven the tartan, and it is called simply The Koala.
Fred and Marie have always been interested in cloth and once they had done a weaving course in Gunnedah, they began weaving on a regular basis. They have a huge shed on the farm called ”Crofter’s Mill”. At the moment, Fred is experimenting with organic grown cotton which he sources from the CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation) in Melbourne.
Meanwhile, far away from the Crofter’s Mill in Gunnedah, during the next two weeks, all eyes are on Scotland, and Glasgow, as national leaders will gather for the latest round of talks on preventing global temperatures from rising to dangerous levels.
I read this small news story about the Koala tartan, in the same week that the Australian government was quarrelling and bargaining (within itself) about our commitment to climate change at the Glasgow summit.
I couldn’t help thinking there is something poignant, and hopeful about individuals who are making a difference, and remain steadfast in their belief in change…despite dissention in government ranks here in Australia. May some practical and positive decisions be made at the summit.
Meanwhile I hope the Koala tartan finds many admirers, and one day I may be able to visit my Scottish cousins wearing a Koala kilt. Now there’s a plan!
Best wishes for a happy November….no more Lockdowns in Australia and the sun is shining!
PS: If the koala photos seems familar, I used these same photos for an earlier post on Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve. During Lockdown I was unable to go to Tidbinbilla, but I’m sure the koalas are thriving in their protected environment after the trauma of the fires.
My brother, Neil lives in Sydney and every morning, regardless of the weather, he walks with a small group of like-minded guys who are up early…usually a bit before dawn.
Sydney and Canberra are in Lockdown, and residents are allowed two hours of exercise (close to home) every day in both cities. Bondi beach, and the cliffs beyond make for ever changing views of the city and the beach, especially at dawn. How very lucky they are to have these views, at any time, but especially during a Lockdown period.
One of the walkers, Tim Read, regularly takes photos with various cameras, and has kindly allowed me to show these two. Many thanks Tim.
Although Sydney is only a four hour drive away from Canberra, our climates are very different . I often envy my brother his walks as I sit shivering in my study in Canberra in winter and spring. However, our compensation is spring!
This year we had a long cold and rainy winter, and it was lovely to see the blossoms finally arrive on the plum tree..
and the almond tree..
The Wattle trees Paul planted a few years ago are enthusiastically flowering in the new garden.
We have become philosophical about the amount of blossoms lost to the birds…
In fact the King Parrot feeds on blossoms just above us, as we sit on the deck having coffee, blossoms raining down like confetti.
Canberra’s suburbs are surrounded by paths and bushland, and during these Lockdown periods many Canberrans have joined the Facebook Wildlife photography group, and are publishing a wide range of colourful parrots and birds.
We live in one of the outer suburbs of Canberra, and McQuoids Hill, a nature park nearby, has become a very popular walking destination since Lockdown.
This landscape is very similar to the landscape of my childhood and that of my brothers, in Central Africa.
We have only seen kangaroos on walks in this area, but people regularly take photos of Wallaroos (a cross between a wallaby and a kangaroo) so I’ll try to get a photos of them.
During winter we read an inspiring local story about Dimity May who has started a small business growing local organic seedlings tailored to our Canberra market. She called it Reid Tiny Farm. (Dimity was born and raised in Reid, a suburb of Canberra.)
Dimity had always been passionate about organic products, and has a Permaculture Design Certificate at Allsun Farm at Gundaroo. Later she completed a market gardener masterclass developed by a renowned farmer and regenerative agricultural advocate Jean Martin, based in Quebec. (an online course mainly for professional growers)
She’s had a challenging start to her business, with baking hot days last year, followed by torrential rain this year. However she has moved her business to Pialligo’s Garden Lots, and now has a seedling-raising cocoon tunnel purchased from Active Vista in Tasmania. Dimity’s father built the frames for the seedlings. The whole family is involved in her business, and hopefully they can continue to help her during this Lockdown.
At the start of 2020 Dimity began growing seedlings organically and has gradually developed her business. Now a subscriber can get a small or large box of seasonal seedlings four times a year.
We had subscribed to Dimity’s project during winter, and when she emailed to say our spring seedlings were ready, we were thrilled… it was just in time to start planting new seedlings and, chance to get out of the house!
Unfortunately it was teeming down with rain the morning we went to get our seedings, so I haven’t yet taken any photos of Dimity and her surroundings, or the polytunnel.
However, here is our bounty! We chose to buy a small box of seedlings (4 boxes a year, one for every season) and this spring the seedlings we have are; beetroot, radish, broccoli, cos lettuce, red butterhead lettuce, English spinach, cabbage and pak choi. (some we have given to neighbours.)
Our seedlings look very healthy and happy, and in between the seedlings we have some small plastic white butterflies to chase away real white cabbage moth/butterflies.
Dimity has, on her website, a quote by Martin Fortier (a farmer educator and award winning author) and this quote seems just right for Dimity’s business.
What we need is food grown with care by and for people who care.
Thank you for visiting my blog today, and I hope everyone can enjoy a bit of sunshine and small pleasures during these uncertain times.
Well here we are in the middle of winter in Canberra, and I have left my camera in Melbourne.
Canberra, with its beautiful clear autumn and winter light, lends itself to photography. My Iphone is fine for family photos, but my camera is better for landscapes.
However, I do have many, many folders of photos that have not been used. I wonder how many bloggers are the same? I am better at de-cluttering the house than getting rid of photos. You just never know when you will need them.
So here are a few photos from these folders of my favourite places to walk, take photos, and have coffee in Canberra. Some photos have been used in previous posts, but many have been hiding in all those folders.
Ann Moyal, a writer, and an academic, had to say….
“I have been in love with Canberra for over sixty years. Its parched landscape, its ring of deep blue mountains etched against an iridescent sky. Its light and calming beauty…“
Canberra’s suburbs are full of birds all year round, but in autumn and winter we start to notice some our most colourful visitors…the King Parrots.
The male Australian King Parrot is the only Australian parrot with a completely red head. The female King parrot has a green head and neck.
The Rainbow Lorikeet is a beautiful splash of colour against the Eucalyptus tree in autumn.
Early morning walkers and bike riders are dedicated…they are relaxing around the lake in every season ..even winter.
This is my favourite building, one of the best places for coffee, and so warm and comfortable too!
I always enjoy the native gardens in Art Gallery gardens, and the sculptures change with every season.
Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve is not far from the city centre, and is full of wildlife..
I have many photos of kangaroos as a result of our visits during spring. However, for some reason this photo never makes the cut.
When we first came to Canberra we went to Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve at Easter time with our two young children (after our Easter hunt back home). We found a picnic table and sat down to have our picnic and Easter eggs. Some Emus appeared out of nowhere and two of them snipped up the Easter eggs, and off they went into the bushes! Our daughters have had a very cautious approach to Emus every since.
One of my absolute favourite places for a walk in autumn and winter is around the suburb of Yarralumla.
This is the house where the Governor General resides, and has a wonderful view across the lake. There lines in the water are for rowing boats.
In summer time I sometimes meet friends at a coffee shop near here, and the mature shady gardens are a wonderful place to sit on a warm day.
During one of my visits, a very organised lady arrived with her greyhound and small dog. I asked if she would like me to keep an eye on them while she ordered her coffee. She thanked me, but said the little dog was the boss, and even with her restricted collar, she would not let the greyhound move away.
I could believe it!
Just as I write this today, Australia has experienced a spike in COVID cases in Sydney, and short Lockdowns have begun. This is a timely reminder to get vaccinated. Paul and I have had our first vaccine with no side effects and will have the second dose in August.
Thank you for taking the time to read my blog today, and may your garden, your home and family be happy and safe, where ever you are in the world.