Monday, January 18, 2016


One of our favourite haunts in Canberra is Frugii, the rather self-importantly titled 'dessert laboratory'. They make great ice cream though and it's surprisingly reasonably priced.

They don't have a huge range of flavours (like a gelato place) but the menu changes regularly - when it's on the list I tend to go for liquorice, Audrey usually chooses Rosewater while Eli is more of a salted caramel boy. Here's a quick pic - Audrey decided it should be black and white.

* There's a couple of chocolate shops around town, but we tend not to frequent them all that much as none of them compare to Wedel!

Sunday, January 17, 2016


The garden is doing well at the moment. We've had a few very hot days, but fortunately also a couple of days of rain which has cooled things down a bit. Here's some (mini) sunflowers in our garden which are enjoying the weather.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Indoor Rock Climbing

The three of us went along to Canberra Indoor Rock Climbing centre this afternoon and took part in their weekend 'kid's club'. In reality there's nothing particularly 'kids' focussed about things, other than you can go along for a bit cheaper and the other climbers for the two hours were all children.

It was pretty reasonably priced (only a smidgen more than a cinema ticket) and the kids had loads of fun. Eli was really tentative at first, but soon got into the swing of it. Both kids were asking to have their birthday parties there.

The main attraction was coming down (you abseiled down on a pulley system - I 'belayed' down below) but the kids soon learnt that the higher you climbed the longer and more fun the abseil. 

I've always admired climbing equipment - from the carabiner to the ropes and shoes - it's all pretty cool. I reckon we'll be back again before too long.

If you're thinking of going with a six year old - do remember that the harness takes quite a lot of getting off and typically kids give you about 10 seconds notice before they need to have a wee....

Eli loved the upside down 'training wall' where you could fall back onto a padded mat

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Fun in the sun!

Today is likely to be the hottest day of the year in Canberra. I packed the kids off to a friend's house where they've recently invested in a huge water inflatable thing. Here's a pic

Birrigai Rock Shelter

We headed out to Tidbinbilla - a nature reserve about 30km from town. It's a lovely drive there and the road winds past the Cotter River as well as the Deep Space Complex. We hadn't been for a while - the lady on the desk at the reserve, told us that our annual pass had expired in 2013 but every time we visit we find new things to explore or spot interesting native creatures.

This time hot on the heels of our less than successful trip to find Frank and Jack's Hut we decided to take our bikes. A lot of the trails in Tidbinbilla were opened in 2013 to allow for multiple use from both walkers and cyclists. It provoked some outrage amongst walkers, but really I see the intention just to open things up in the park and make them more 'family friendly' rather than try and compete with the designated mountain bike trails of nearby Mount Stromlo.

The ranger in the well appointed visitor centre recommended that we take a trip to Birrigai Rock Shelter - he could see I had two small kids in tow and he said apart from a 'short bit' it should be easy riding. It was actually pretty steep (for bikes) and quite rocky and as it turned out much more suitable as a walk rather than a ride. Still it was good fun.

The first part of the ride took us across open countryside - we spotted an emu hiding under a tree, and then along a dirt track where a whole mob of kangaroos firstly eyed us off and then skittishly hopped alongside and in front of us. Audrey (as usual) was leading our cycling expedition and there were a couple of moments where I worried that she might get knocked off her bike by flying kangaroos!

We made it to the base of the hill and then variously pushed/rode our bikes up to the rocks. Again, it would have been a better decision to go in cooler weather (today was probably in the low 30's) but the gum trees at least gave us some shelter from the heat.

The Birrigai Rocks themselves are excellent - a series of rocky outcrops and tors. Apparently Aboriginal camps have been found here dating back 21,000 years. There are a few small caves and the shade and escape from the sun which they provided, was exceptional - it was easy to imagine why aboriginal  hunters would have used them as a place to camp and sleep.

Going down was unsurprisingly much easier than going up. We scooted down a long dirt road and then back out through a grassy expanse. Again kangaroos bounced past us as we rode. We were glad to reach the car, tired but happy.

Afterwards we drove into the reserve and went to the excellently appointed playground (the kids love the flying fox there). I cooked us some sausages for lunch and we headed out to see some of the koalas that live in the park.

We were lucky as one was quite low down (almost at eye level) and we also saw a bettong hopping in the undergrowth. Audrey wanted to go on (she told us that she knew where we could see turtles - which she remembered seeing on a school trip) but I was a bit dubious as to whether she really knew/remembered the way and Eli was complaining of aching feet at this point so we headed back for an ice cream and then drove back home.

dodging the kangaroos

bikes in the bush!

sheltering from the sun

our beautiful boy

a large koala (their fluffy ears are so cute!)

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Music and drawing at the National Portrait Gallery

On Sunday we went along to the National Portrait Gallery for 'Drawn In'. It was an opportunity to draw Anton Wurzer (a piano accordianist) while he played.

It was a lovely relaxing afternoon - Anton was a really expressive guy and played his way through a wide repertoire from Tequila (everyone shouted 'Tequila' at the right moments) to more traditional stuff.

The gallery laid on all of the art material - not bad at all for a free event. It wasn't widely publicised (and a lot of people are 'out of town') so it was easy to get a cushion down the front.

We stayed for over an hour sketching away. I don't think we produced masterpieces worthy of the gallery we were in, but we'll look out for other similar events as it was great fun.

There was also the chance to dress up as the Kelly gang! - such is life!

A Tale of Two Horses

The kids found this puppet show at the National Portrait Gallery. The story (and acting!) is all their own!

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Frank and Jack's Hut

To the south of Canberra is the Namadgi National Park. It's a beautiful area and is really underutilised by Canberrans. The park offers everything from historic aboriginal rock art, to waterfalls and picturesque scenery.

It was a lovely warm day and the three of us headed out with our bikes. After a short stop at the friendly and well-appointed visitor centre I decided to take the kids out on the Old Boboyan Road to find 'Frank and Jack's Hut'. The Hut was built in the 1940s and from the info I'd read looked quite interesting - I figured we could do it as part of a circular ride.

We parked the car and filled in the book that told us we were the only ones who had been out here for the last couple of days and set off.

It was a beautiful ride - a lot of the area was affected by the bushfires in 2003 and this was called the 'regeneration' trail. I'd noted that the hut was just a short ride off our route and after riding for a short while we found a right turn that took us down a large bumpy track.

I followed the track - Eli fell off his bike going down the hill, but jumped up unscathed. Eventually we came to a large plain which we rode across - the long grass catching our legs as we rode. At one point a fly the size of a small bird attached itself to my leg. yuk.

It struck me that not only had we gone down a steep hill, we were now a long way from the original path, it didn't feel at all like it had looked on the original map I had looked at. Not just that but we didn't have a lot of water, nor a map and the signal on my phone had gone several kilometres before we parked the car. The heat of the day was building too. It wasn't great really - and I tried to make sure that the kids didn't see that I was as worried as I probably was.

We retraced our steps - the kids complaining heartily as we pushed our bikes back up the hill. Eventually we got to the main path (I was very relieved).

We rode back to the car park. Frank and Jack will have to wait for another day.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Kids in the veggie patch

Happy New Year!

A short video of A&E picking courgettes/zucchinis in the garden this morning. First ones of the season!