Canberra day 1
(This post backdated to the date it happened, not the date I wrote it.)
Marita, Justine and I got a lunchtime flight out of Melbourne, and got to Canberra, Australia’s capital city, a little less than an hour later. Straight off the plane, through baggage claim and into a cab bound for Kingston, and the serviced apartment we were staying in.
They kindly offered us a discount voucher to Cockington Green, a miniature village
nearby. Obviously as three people who had come to Canberra to catch up with friends and take in a few galleries and national buildings, it was very difficult to convince ourselves that we shouldn’t drop all those plans and spend our limited time going to look at miniature English village buildings.
After settling in we set off walking. It was mid-afternoon, quite cold (though not as cold as a few days previous when I’d observed Jim Middleton on the ABC News reporting from Canberra in the middle of a snow storm). A reasonable walk got us to the National Gallery of Australia. I snapped a photo of the big ball-like thing hanging in front of the entrance, then wished I’d kept the camera out and primed for another 20 seconds, as two helicopters thundered by behind it at low altitude.
The NGA building was pretty uninspiring from the outside, but inside was a wealth of great stuff. We wandered around, admiring some great art, including that of Mc
GCubbin, probably my fave John Brack, Brett Whitely, a Picasso or two, Pollock’s Blue Poles, some Heidelberg School and some great Aboriginal art. An Albert Tucker caught my eye, with its portrayal of a Melbourne number 6 tram. Then I noted the body parts strewn on the ground around it. Hmmmm.. Not sure I quite understand that.
After some time in the NGA, we decided to walk over to the National Library of Australia, primarily for the great coffee shop, famed in song and fable. It was closed … D’oh! But on the way we did note a monument to Vincent Lingiari, which had a tinny speaker playing Paul Kelly’s From Little Things.
It was now about 5pm, and we noted that the Canberra rush hour in that particular part of the city seemed to entail up to 5 cars in a row. The whole place is very spread-out (more about that later), and there were funny round bus stop shelters dotted about the place.
We were now in dire need of a nice hot cup of tea, but none were to be found, as the cafes attached to each building had shut up for the night. We walked back past Old Parliament House and the Aboriginal Tent Embassy, and headed for the Kingston Shops, where we bought supplies (including tea).
After a cup of tea and a rest, we headed out again for the Manuka shopping centre to look for a nice place for dinner. Eventually, we found it: Christophe’s, a French provincial restaurant, serving just precisely the kind of food you want on a cold night. Not cheap, but hot and totally delicious. I may not know how to pronounce it, but I can tell you the Beef Bourguignon was superb, as was the Crepe Suzette.
Full, we waddled out of the restaurant and staggered back to the apartment. To say it was cold would be a gross understatement, but at least we walked off some of the food.