20 August 2006

Australian War Memorial

In commemoration of all the Australian soldiers who faught and died in battles the government has built this memorial, which also houses an extensive exhibition about all the mainly overseas battlefields where Australian soldiers have faught.
The inner court of the memorial with the memorial hall at the far end. In the middle of the pond the eternal flame burns for the fallen soldiers. Very traditional!

The memorial hall is decorated by beautifull murals. The one in the dome is particularly attractive.

The names of all the fallen Australian soldiers is engraved in to brass panels along the side walls of the court.

The exhibition contains a boys dream collection of WW2 aircraft and tanks. The most interesting and peculiar object on display, I thought, was the japanese midget submarine, which had been sunk in Sydney harbour. Surely, only the japanese could survive a trip all the way to Australia in such a constricted space.

Black Mountain and Telstra Tower

We've been living right at the foot of Black Mountain and we have used the tower as a beakon whenever we could not find our way home. Now, we thought we ought to pay a visit to the summit and see it close up. We went up along the winding road, paid the entrance fee to the tower, and rocketed up the lift shaft! Actually, paying an entrance fee felt so unusual to us, as everything else in Canberra is free. Anyway, the view from the tower was really great. The tower itself is not that tall, but the fact that it sits on top of a hill contributes significantly to the quality of the overview from the top.
Telstra tower rises in between the gum trees.

View from the tower of Canbera Civic (the cluster of tall buildings), Lake Burley Griffin and Parliament Hill. The ANU campus is situated at the foot of Black Mountain and extends out onto the Acton peninsula where the National Museum of Australia is located.

Just to get the perspective right, here's black mountain with Telstra Tower as seen from the shore of the lake.

Embassy hopping

As Canberra was constructed from scratch there was a good opportuinity for nations who wanted to establish diplomatic ties with Australia to build their embassy buildings in some characteristic style. Needless to say, not all embassies are particularly interesting, but a couple are very nice indeed. Here's a couple to begin with.
India's embassy is very lovely. Not so grand but just very elegantly designed.

The Royal Thai Embassy. We happened to come by on the night that the Thai embassy was hosting a reception to celebrate and share the festivities that were held in Bangkok in commemoration of the Kings 60th anniversary as monarch. In spite of our pretty casual outfit the embassy staff strongly encouraged us to come in and so we did. So we had a bite of tasty Thai food, heard a speach by the ambassador, and saw a lengthy video of the grand and lavish celebration in Thailand. An excellent end to a bush-walk.

The Finnish embassy might be an attempt to promote Finland's image as a high tech (Nokia) nation. Not bad though.

A few more to come.

Bush-walking in Tidbinbilla

In another effort to get out of town we rented a small vehicle for the weekend and took it for a spin. Other than being a first-time experience in left-hand driving and automatic gearing, it was also our first independent quest into the bush. Not to be left solely in each others company, we asked one of our freinds Warn to come along with us. The destination of the day was the Tidbinbilla Nature Park around 50 km out of Canberra. The nature park features various Australian animals and nice scenery. Below are pictures of some of the fauna we encountered.
First a photo of Warn'ie and Emma on the footbridge on the small lake in the swamp area. On the small island there was a large group of roosting Magpie Geese.

The "ugly ducklings" of the Black Swans had alreaddy hatched and they were now swiming around under the protection of their parents.

Okay, this is not easy to see, but the creature in this photo is very timid and actually not easily encountered in the wild. The little dark fleck in the water is in fact a Platypus. Some centuries ago, this mamal confused all European biologist because the Aboriginals were claiming that it was egg-laying. Some European scientists took this as a proof of the ignorance of the natives, since obviously no mamals could be egg-laying. These scientists soon looked foolish themselvels.

What everyone wants to see in Australia... Roos! Here's a brave young fella who stays behind while the older roo jumps away. Boing, boing, boing...

There's quite a lot of them!

And now for something completely different!

In the Tidbinbilla valley (outside the nature park) we came across these fine dishes. They are a part of NASA's Deep Space Network, which forms the communication link between the control centre on Earth and the various manned and unmanned vessels in space.

09 August 2006

Bananas as enigmas

In Australia these days Bananas appear in discourses about global climate change and in debates about inflation and interest rate levels. Yep, this curvy yellow fruit... or rather one would think its peel is golden. The reason for all this fuss is that the kg price of bananas is currently hitting around 16 AUD, which is roughly eqivalent to 70 DKK. One banana will set you back about 4 dollars i.e. about 20 kroner!!!

How come? as Australia surely has the climate to grow bananas... Well, the reason for all this conundrum is that in March this year Larry came in from the Indian Ocean and passed over Queensland in the north of Australia. Larry was a tropical cyclone - and Queensland is where all Australia's bananas are grown. The cyclone left behind a costly trail of fallen banana palms. Because of the country's draconic import restrictions, no bananas can be imported from anywhere overseas. Though, after having been approached by Phillipine banana farmers the authorities are thinking about allowing some imports of bananas from abroad. They figure that the formalities of approving farmers and setting up control procedures could be in place in - about 6 to 12 months! So, bananas remain a truly exclusive delicacy for some while longer.

08 August 2006

Census Night

As it happens, we're staying in Oz during the time of the census, which is held every 5 years. That's right, they do have censuses here, as they say that it is still the most reliable way to record everybody living in Australia. Persons who need to fill out a census form include tourists, ship's crews and other visitors. Yeah, its practically everyone except embassy staff. So tonight on the 8th of August we answered the questions about our ancestry, religion, education, income, hours spent on housework and so on all in order that we become engraved into the Australian history.

05 August 2006

Old Parliament House

This Saturday's destination was the Old Parliament House. This building served as the centre of federal power in Australia from when Canberra became the national capital in 1927 till as late as 1988 when the new Parliament House was finished.

The pearly white facade of the Old Parliament House. The camping trailer to the left is used by a small camp of protesters that seem to have a pro-indigenous agenda.

Much to our surprise the main lobby resounded to the vibes of swing jazz with a large crowd of dedicated dancers filling up the floor.

The red colour of the Senate just as in the new Parliament House. Apparently the colour scheme of a red senate wing and a green house of representatives wing originates from Britian (Surprise!) and the background is that the red dye is more expensive than the green dye, and hence more suitable for the upper-class Senate.