Monday, December 28, 2009

Size has its Privileges

My dad (whom we affectionately call “Sir”) has a saying that says “Size has its privileges”. I am sure that what he is referring to is driving a large 4 wheel drive vehicle, in not perfect condition, with Queensland licence plates, in another state. No-one wants to come anywhere near the vehicle, and they will do almost anything to stay out of the way.

Add to this my new driving attitude which includes the phrase “have 4 wheel drive, can go anywhere”, and you have a recipe for terrorising the ACT. Especially when we decided to be tourists for a day and see some sights.

We started by meeting Naomi, Ruth and Mum and Sir at Parliament house. We caught the last half of the tour guides talk in the house of representatives and she showed us around the senate as well. She was a wealth of information interspersed with some personal views and attitudes that made her discussion very interesting.

PC278036 Leisl, Karen, Rosa,
Josie and Connor
in the senate room
PC278057 Karen, Daniel, Rosa,
Leisl, Josie, Connor
and Lincoln at the
front entry to
Parliament house.

Great hall tapestry Tapestry in the Great Hall

On the rooftop, you can roll down the grass and observe the leaking roof from above. Seriously - $1.1Billion building, and the roof leaks in the rain. It’s extremely funny to see buckets on the floor in the reception hall to catch the rain drops!


Naomi then led us to the Royal Australian Mint where we did a quick tour, and the children made their own $1.00 coin. It was very interesting to see how money is made, and the things that can go wrong when you make it. The technology of coin making has changed significantly in the last 1000 years!



We then went for a drive by tour of some of the foreign embassies in Canberra. The US embassy is HUGE with massive amounts of security, the Chinese embassy has human rights protest signs opposite the entrance, the Turkish, Papua New Guinea and Indonesian embassies all had buildings that matched their own countries, and the Pakistan embassy was just a vacant block of land – although I am not convinced there wasn’t either a tent or cave in there somewhere!

Lunchtime! and we headed for the Canberra Carillon. A set of 55 bells arranged in a 50metre high tower, with a specially trained musician to play Christmas themed tunes for an hour. With bells range from 7kg to 6 tons, the carillon was a gift from the British government to the people of Australia to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the National Capital. Queen Elizabeth II officially opened the National Carillon on 26 April 1970. None of us had ever heard of the Carillon, so many thanks go to Naomi who got us there in time to listen to the bells play.

Finally we headed to the National Botanical Gardens near Black Mountain. Again with the walking and walking! The Botanic Gardens is a truly spectacular monument to the diversity of native Australian plants. Completely lost on us non-botanists, it was a lovely walk through an exceptional garden, with some excellent sights along the way. But I remain convinced that any biologist would have considered us unworthy to view such a magnificent display with such ignorance.

PC278084 Leisl, Josie, Karen, Rosa and Connor PC278077Aunty Ruth PC278079 Magnificent Sydney Blue Gum LorikeetA crimson lorikeet at point of take off

All in all, we had an excellent day. There were no driving incidents because people stay away from the troopy when Daniel drives.


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