Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Bean Motor Car

Birtle's Bean is now on display in the hall of the National Museum. Francis Birtles was one of Australia's early land-based adventurers/explorers. He specialised in cycling and driving and was the first person to successfully drive from England to Australia. Birtle's Bean car which he named the Sundowner was made in Cosely, West Midlands. I think it's magnificent.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Matty Grey (Canberra Comedy Festival) Game on 2.0

Canberra Comedy festival plays host to a number of well known (and less well known comedians). Within the list of acts there's usually a small number suited for kids and this year we were lucky to catch Matty Grey.

His show 'Game on 2.0' was a combination of slapstick and kids jokes mostly focused around games or video games and my kids loved both the topic and the content.

Matty's show relied heavily on audience participation. At certain parts you were required (as an audience) to get out of your seats and dance. He actively encouraged heckling and people who didn't play along were summarily punished for being bad sports.

In the intimate surroundings that is Canberra Theatre courtyard theatre it was impossible to get away with not taking part - there's literally nowhere to hide. Audrey was picked out of the audience to take part in an 'Operation' simulation which was pretty funny.

It was an enjoyable way to spend an otherwise lazy Sunday afternoon.

Mount Taylor

We took a sunny Sunday afternoon walk up Mount Taylor with one of Eli's mates.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

The third best letterbox in the street

When we moved here a little over 10 years ago, I must admit it took me a little bit of adjustment to find that your post was delivered to a letterbox in your lawn rather than landing with a satisfying thud through a letterbox in your front door.

Delivering post to a more remote letterbox allows the postie to zip between houses on a moped/scooter rather than having to trudge on foot between each individual household. Now snail-mail is all but redundant it hardly seems to matter.

Our letterbox has always shown its age. A combination of rot and ants had seen off its wooden post. 

One afternoon I found a new letterbox that someone had given away, which inspired me to set about the replacement and repair of our own. 

Fortunately a kind neighbour lent a hand and so we soon had the old one bashed out and the new one safely concreted in. It's plumbed in too, so it serves as a garden tap. I was so pleased with our handy-work that the kids and I walked up and down our road inspecting everyone's respective letterbox.

We (well actually 'I'...as they weren't really that bothered) came to the conclusion that our new letter box (especially with its chrome numbering) probably ranks as the third best letterbox in the street!

Friday, March 15, 2019

What do we want? climate action!

As part of a nationally organied initiative Audrey went on strike from school(!) to encourage people (governments in particular) to look a bit harder at their response to climate change. Thousands of people filled the city centre and it was nice to leave Audrey and her friends to it. The speakers and I believe, the march were pretty passionate and the girls enjoyed themselves. It comes to something when it needs school children to point out the stupidity of not working to limit climate change.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Granite Tor bush walk

I always try and do something fun for my birthday and with this year being my 50th (blimey!) I decided to head to Granite Tors in nearby Ororral Valley.

It was about an hour's drive from home, but Canberra is so fortunate to be situated in such beautiful countryside with a large National Park just to our south.

The Ororal Valley used to be used to be home of a large space tracking station built in the mid-60's. It's use continued throughout the 80's and was probably used as part of the American's Star Wars, Space Defence Initiative used to track harmless satellites around the universe.

It provided communication to many of the Space Shuttle missions up until its closure in 1985.

Considering it used to be the largest tracking station outside of the US, it's peculiar that all of the buildings were bulldozed in the early 90s. All that remains are a few concrete slabs and European trees from the once immaculately landscaped gardens.

How it looked during the height of the cold war  period where important scientific research was going on

The walk was a fairly short 9km and it was a beautiful warm day with a slight breeze that made walking pretty easy. I set off from the car park and walked across the plains, being observed by a few inquisitive kangaroos who lazily lifted their heads from the comfort of their shady resting spot beneath the gum trees.

When I reached the path proper I found that it was actually pretty hard work. The path itself isn't all that steep (although it is in places) but it's more that it's a constant uphill. The road was an access road to the geodectic observatory at the top, so you could imagine military scientific vehicles chugging their way up the road/path.

I met some Americans half way up (they were on their way down) so we chatted for a while which broke the walk up a bit. When you finally reach the top (it probably took me just over an hour) the observatory and the surrounding views are well worth it.

You can actually go inside the observatory (looking at the bushwalker book you sign at the beginning of the walk it looks like only one or two people ascend the hill every day so I think it's a bit immune to vandalism). There are plans to open up the top storey as well which would be really fantastic if they do.

The geodectic observatory had apparently been used to measure the rotation and movement of the moon. When the Americans allegedly landed on the moon they placed large mirrors on the surface and the observatory fired lasers and tracked the results. Latterly it was also used to track military satellites.

Coming down was a bit trickier than going up. The steepness meant that you almost ran some sections. I got home in time to collect the kids from school. It was a fun walk and it was a great way to spend my birthday.

felt a lot steeper than it looks

I knew I shouldn't have licked it

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Canberra's Green Shed

It's fair to say that I love the Green Shed in Canberra. It's a large warehouse next to the community tip where things that people are dumping (but are too good to dump) are sold for charity. 

You can pick almost anything up there from surf boards to pianos to golf sets. We don't go there often (otherwise our entire house would be full of purchases from there) but I do like browsing round. The kids love it too as they can usually pick up some old toy, bits of lego or a scratched up DVD.

Monday, March 11, 2019

Canberra Balloon Spectacular

We got up early to see the Canberra Balloon Spectacular and were lucky to watch the beagle balloon take off. It's reputedly the largest hot air balloon in the world, which isn't difficult to believe as it was vast.

The Cashews on Canberra Day

Canberra Day, our annual holiday to celebrate...errr..Canberra, came round again. It was a beautiful sunny day and somehow I persuaded the kids to accompany me on a trip round the lake with Canberra duo 'The Cashews'. They're a folkey-funny pair and I've been a fan for some time. Their style is easy going and they're both very talented singers and musicians. I've seen them in various situations but this was unique in that it was a bike tour at four locations around Lake Burley-Griffin.

After each set we all got on our bikes (including Pete the singer who carried an amp in a bike trailer) and set off for the next venue. They described it as a concert-come-rehearsal!

There weren't many of us that completed the full lap, but at each stop there were probably 20 or 30 people and we passed round a hat at each juncture.

We ended up underneath the Carillon (the large bell tower on Aspen Island - donated by Britain to Canberra - can you imagine the uproar now if Britain donated a bell tower to somewhere else in the world?) where the bells competed with the singing. It was a really fun day and I hope they repeat it annually!

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Enlighten and Night Noodle Markets

Enlighten rolled into town again, along with the night noodle markets. 

Enlighten is an annual festival, part of which includes lighting up complex light displays on Canberra's significant buildings. It's a remarkable show and with the warm evening's we've been enjoying offers a pleasant meander around Canberra's parliamentary triangle.

Unfortunately as we we were lining up for noodles we were hit by a passing shower, which threw the crowds into a bit of a disarray. Fortunately things dried up as quickly as the rain clouds had arrived.

In truth, I'm not sure we'll bother with the noodle markets again. They're interesting, but as each year passes the prices rise and the size of the servings shrink. Instead we found that outside of the confines of the market (it's a separate fenced off area which you queue to get in) the ACT government had encouraged other (cheaper but less hipster) fast food options which were a fair bit cheaper - I think it's fish and chips for us next time around.

Either way, the lights are always fabulous and the organisers seem to manage to change things around every year. Audrey and I always love the portrait gallery which has a photo booth which allows you to have your mug-shot projected onto the side of the building.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

New Letterbox

Our old letterbox has been falling apart for several years and had taken on quite a substantial lean. I managed (with some help from our neighbour) to discard of the old letterbox and install a bright new one (which I found!) and install a garden pipe within it.

After we'd fitted it, the kids and I did a circuit of the block and our street. I reckon we've pretty much got the 3rd best letterbox in the street now!

out with the old

in with the new

Monday, March 4, 2019

Eli flies the flag

With the year 5's and 6's away on school camp, responsibility for raising the flags outside of the kid's school fell to Eli's class. He was ever so pleased to be selected for the duty. There are (rightly) three flags to raise, the Aboriginal flag, the Torres Strait flag and the Australian flag.

It was lovely watching him and his friends at work. They were very diligent  in their duties, ensuring the flags didn't touch the ground and made sure they were folded correctly at the end of the day.

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Apple picking in Piallago (Tanbella Orchard)

With Eli at a soccer tournament I took Audrey and her mate apple picking at an orchard in Piallago near Canberra airport. The orchard has dozens of different apples (which ripen at different times of the year) and you are able to try any apple that takes your fancy.

When apples are presented in this way it's remarkable how different they are - some soft, some crisp, some sharp and some extremely sweet.

There's a standard cost for all varieties so you can pick from one tree or mooch around and pick apples from lots of trees. What I really like about it is that all the trees are quite small so it's perfect for kids.

There were a few rows of peaches and nectarines as well. Sadly we'd missed the best of the fruit by a couple of weeks, but (note to self) we'll be back next year to get some from there.

It's difficult in some ways not to go completely overboard and fill your basket. As we'd been a couple of times before I knew to make sure Audrey only picked enough for a week or two.

The orchard also has a dog with different coloured eyes called Bowie. 

Saturday, March 2, 2019

Return and Earn - Queanbeyan

About six months ago a 'reverse vending machine' appeared in Queanbeyan, NSW (just across the ACT border). The machine pays 10c per can or bottle. Items are put into a slot and then a conveyor takes them, scans the barcode and then credits you 10c. You can choose to take the money in cash or paid into your Paypal account or given directly to charity.

The kids had been collecting bottles and cans for a few weeks and we finally took a few bags along to try the machine out for ourselves. In total we cashed in just over $12 worth of bottles and cans. Audrey and Eli were happy to get the cash and it was actually a surprisingly fun way to spend a sunny morning. Apparently since the machine was installed it's been responsible for handing out thousands of dollars.