Tag Archives: Questacon

Canberra- Day 3 Blogging A-Z Challenge.

“The hardest thing about living in Canberra is that almost everyone who doesn’t live here asks: ‘Why on earth would you live in Canberra?’ Loudly, and in a way they would never use to discuss anywhere else. And they never listen to the answer.”

Judy Horacek, Cartoonist

Welcome to Day 3 of the Blogging A to Z Challenge.

Today, we’re leaving Europe behind and leap frogging across the globe to Australia’s capital city, Canberra, which started out as a city in the sheep paddocks and has evolved into a dynamic cultural centre despite, or perhaps because of the politicians. Indeed,  “Canberra” is often used to refer to all things political going on down there, becoming an entity beyond place.

Parliament House, Canberra

However, before Canberra became “Canberra”, the indigenous Ngunnawal and Ngambri people had been living in the area for thousands of years and the name ‘Canberra’ is said to be derived from an indigenous word meaning ‘meeting place’.

Canberra only rose to fame after Australia’s six states and two territories federated to form Australia. As there was intense rivalry between Sydney and Melbourne  to become the nation’s capital, it was my understanding that it was decided to locate the capital   half-way in between in Canberra. However, it turns out that at a premiers’ conference in Melbourne in January 1899, NSW Premier George Reid won support for the capital to be located within his state. However, as a trade-off, section 125 of the new federal Constitution specifically stated that the capital  could be no less than 100 miles (160 kilometres) from Sydney. In the meantime, Melbourne would act as the interim capital. The first Commonwealth Parliament met in Melbourne on 9 May 1901. However, Federal Parliament didn’t move to Canberrra until 1927.

Don’t you just love politics!

However, when we’ve gone to Canberra, it’s had nothing to do with politics. Rather, we’ve always been driving back from the snow, and were more interested in its museums.

Being the nation’s capital, it’s home to the National Gallery (art), Questacon (Science), and the Australian War Memorial, which I’d place on an equal footing. However, I doubt the rest of the family would concur and no doubt our teenagers would want to see more than galleries these days.  I also wanted to mention that both our kids went on what’s known as “The Canberra Trip” when they were in primary school. It’s a right of passage (at least around here) and it’s a big excitement for them to head off in the coach with their friends, and an emotional time for their parents as the coach leaves.

Obviously, all three of these museums are currently closed due to the Coronavirus. However, perhaps this will inspire you to visit later. Alternately, these brief stop overs might satisfy your museum urge while you’re in social isolation and I’ve actually been able to provide links to online exhibitions. So, I’m pretty chuffed, and am not such a bad tour guide after all!

Last Post Ceremony

The daily Last Post Ceremony, which is held at the Pool of Reflection. Geoff and the kids presented a wreath in honour of Geoff’s Great Uncle, Pte Robert Ralph French who was killed in action in France. 

The Australian War Memorial

“Here is their spirit, in the heart of the land they loved; and here we

guard the record which they themselves made.”

– Charles Bean, 1948

For anyone with a passion for history, I strongly recommend visiting the Australian War Memorial in Canberra, especially if you have a family member who served in any of our armed conflicts, or even if you simply want to know how war has impacted our people on and off the battlefield. It’s absolutely riveting. Indeed, I believe we’ve been there three times as a family, and each time we’ve stayed much longer than intended and had to tear ourselves away. Moreover, now that my research into Australians serving on the Western Front during WWI has taken off, I could probably spend the rest of my life in this place and not blink an eye. Indeed, if I snuck down while the place is in lock down, nobody would even know I was there…!

Over the years, the Australian War Memorial has moved from being a physical, concrete entity and added an online counterpart, which is an invaluable resource. I am particularly grateful for this, as it’s not that easy for me to get down to Canberra and it’s so much easier to click on links online than combing through boxes of files.

If you’d like to read more about the history of the museum itself, please click Here.

Questacon – the National Science and Technology Centre.

Questacon is like a huge playcentre for science and engineering nerds. Yet, I also managed to find my own niche as a photographer by capturing the freaky lighting effects on film. That was a lot of fun and really extended my powers of perception (see above).

DSC_8120

Of course, that wasn’t why it was there. Besides, I love science anyway.  It’s just that some of it can get beyond my pay grade, or is in areas I’m not interested in and that’s okay. We don’t have to love everything.

lever

By the way, I should also mention there’s a great shop at Questacon. If you’re getting a bit sick of wearing Pyjamas everyday, perhaps you’d like to splurge on a Questacon lab coat?

Questacon Lab Coat

 The National Art Gallery

The National Art Gallery has made my job a lot easier, and is currently holding a couple of online exhibitions. So, I’d love you to join me for:

Matisse & Picasso

Australian Artist Hugh Ramsay

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Hugh Ramsay: The Sisters, Art Gallery of NSW

In case you’re unfamiliar with Hugh Ramsay’s work, here’s a brief intro posted by the gallery: “Hugh Ramsay (1877–1906) was an accomplished Australian artist whose portrait paintings achieved success here and in France before his untimely death at the age of 28. This retrospective, the first to focus on Ramsay in more than a quarter of a century, brings together paintings, drawings, sketchbooks and letters from collections around the country to celebrate his achievements.”

In terms of their regular exhibits, my favourite is Sidney Nolan’s Ned Kelly Series:

Ned Kelly Nolan

Well, that concludes our very brief gallery tour of Canberra, but I’ve left you with plenty of places to wonder off to online if you follow through to the links.

Have you ever been to Canberra? What were your favourites? Please leave your thoughts and any links in the comments.

Best wishes,

Rowena

A Blank Canvas…

I don’t know whether I would call it procrastination, avoidance, hyperactivity or just too much prednisone because today I actually managed to clean the fridge.

There has to be some psychological term to explain my latest cleaning frenzy…a category all of its own in DSM IV or whatever the good book is called. I am quite ideologically opposed to cleaning and I only do it when I really have to. That said, I have also realised that now I’m a grown up, I can’t just throw all my crap in my cupboard, force the door shut and believe it’s all just going to magically self-sort. These days, it turns out, I have become the proverbial fairy, wielding my not so magic wand…clunk!

I think I might just blame the prednisone. I’m blaming it for everything right now! It’s a bit like being pregnant!

Anyway, before you get all excited about what rotten remains I’ve “discovered” in the fridge, I haven’t reached the inside of the fridge yet. I’m just talking about the fridge door.

So I’ll get you to sit down with your cup of tea and just think about fridge doors for a few minutes…

The more I think about it, the fridge door is actually something of a canvas. It’s blank. It’s white. You can let your imagination run totally wild.  Sure, like any canvas, of course there are boundaries…limits…a frame. Yet within that space, anything is possible although I would just advise against a completely literal interpretation of my “fridge door as canvas” concept. I strongly advise against painting on the fridge door itself. My daughter has written on our fridge door in permanent marker which at this point of time, is looking way too permanent. After all, the whole point is to be ephemeral. Your canvas is constantly changing, evolving…a melting pot of things past, present and maybe even future.

However, this “fridge door as canvas” concept is a long way from where I started out this morning. This morning my fridge door was looking something in between a dog’s breakfast and a very chaotic whirlwind. As I looked at everything stuck on top of it, I’m sure I could even detect whirly patterns. It was rather disconcerting as I wondered what the state of the fridge door actually said about me? Was this my reflection?

Then I got a bit stuck. I didn’t quite know how you are supposed to arrange all those fridge magnet thingys. It seems a bit anal having them all lined up in neat little rows like Monopoly houses but my ephemera was looking like it had been in a whirlwind. You know how it is. The magnets fall off and you just put them back anywhere before they get stamped on by the hoardes.

In an act which could only be described as desperation, I pulled absolutely everything off the fridge until it was completely and utterly naked…bare. It was actually quite a strange sight and all that white actually looked pretty glary. I needed my snow goggles on to deal with such vast expanse of white. I was in very unfamiliar territory. I, as you will come to know, am the Clutter Queen!

I re-discovered this message from a friend who had helped declutter my kitchen a few years ago.

As much as my fridge door might be messy, it is also glamorously eclectic and bursting with meaning, history…just like me! My entire life story is on that fridge door much of it preserved in the actual fridge magnets themselves. Not that I officially collect fridge magnets but maybe I do after all.

After

Perhaps, the oldest fridge magnet I have, is a hand-painted ceramic painting of a border collie. I bought that at Glebe Markets about 15 years ago when I was living in a converted warehouse apartment just off Broadway and I thought anywhere beyond the inner city was the outback and to avoided at all costs. We are now onto our second real Border Collie.

There is another series of fridge magnets, also from Glebe Markets by artist Liza Paizis. They are heavenly inspired. I love, love, love her work. She has subsequently moved back to South Africa but she is online. I was seriously distracted looking her up!! You can check her work out at http://www.zhibit.org/lizapaizis

Last year, I discovered the Flower Fairies by Cicely May Barker. You can see that I live in my imagination but her illustrations of local village children as flowers as so beautiful…more superlatives! See: http://www.flowerfairies.com/ I have a series of flower fairy fridge magnets which I picked up in Sandford, Brisbane when visiting my cousins.

I also have not one but three Kombi magnets. I have very fond memories of my first visit to Byron Bay back in 1995 and seeing rows of Kombis parked beside the beach. I had sold my artistic soul out to the corporate sector back then and had found visiting Byron so liberating!! Byron was still fairly  hippy.

I have been dreaming of running away in a Kombi ever since. As far as I’m concerned, it’s the ultimate midlife crisis vehicle. I mean if you’re really going to run away from it all, you can’t fit everything into a teeny red convertible. Moreover, a sports car towing a trailer just isn’t a good look! You could literally fit the kitchen sink in the back of a Kombi. It’s my kind of vehicle!

Back when I was still breastfeeding and an active member of the Australian Breastfeeding Association (ABA), we made our own fridge magnets as a fundraiser. We brought in photos, which were turned into fridge magnets in much the same way you’d make badges. That was about 8 years ago and I thought they were so cool. There’s one with my son and aunty posing in front of the laughing clowns at the Marburg Show when he was only weeks old.

Just like getting married, there’s something old and something new…

It seems I have added quite substantially to the fridge magnet collection this year. You know that fabulous feeling when you’re on holidays and buying a fridge magnet has been my way of letting that moment extend… or even last forever.

In January, on our way to Byron Bay, we visited the Pet Porpoise Pool at Coffs Harbour. I just had to buy a couple of magnets there so I could look at the seals and dolphins when I got home. We’d been so up close and personal that we could almost smell their fishy breath from the stands. We all enjoyed seal and dolphin kisses as well although I can assure you, we all washed our faces thoroughly afterwards.

There are also some postcards from Nelson Bay. I went there on an adventure camp with Muscular Dystrophy NSW and went parasailing, quad-bike riding, dolphin watching and chatted and chatted with an inspirational group of people.

Lastly, just a few weeks ago, I bought a couple of fridge magnets from the National Gallery in Canberra, on our way back from the snow. There’s The Rose 1958 by Salvador Dali. I really liked this painting with a huge reddish rose hovering in the sky. I have always been a fan of Keats whose Ode to Melancholy suggests:

“But when the melancholy fit shall fall
Sudden from heaven like a weeping cloud…
Then glut thy sorrow on a morning rose…”

I particularly liked Dali’s less conventional take on the classic rose. I stuck that on the fridge as a reminder to bounce back when the going gets tough (which it inevitably does for everyone eventually).

I also couldn’t resist Sidney Nolan’s Ned Kelly 1946. This painting shows a rear-view of Ned riding a horse and there’s a “window” cut into his helmet and you see the clouds in his head. This surrealist image has always appealed to me, as my own head is often in the clouds. We took the kids to see the Ned Kelly Series while we were at the gallery and our son tripped over the protective gutter and literally crashed into Constable Fitzpatrick and Kate Kelly. Fortunately, no alarms bells went off but a copy of painting is also plastered on the side of the fridge. I’m a bad mother!

There is also a magnet from Questacon. We all loved Questacon!!

I also have a few magnets with motivational sayings. There’s the Footprints poem. “The only normal people are the ones you don’t know very well. – Joe Ancis and a photo of an elephant’s foot about to step on a mouse with the caption: “It could always get worse!”

I did throw a few magnets out today but even though our son is 8 and Thomas the Tank Engine isn’t quite so cool anymore, I couldn’t throw poor Thomas out. He stays.

I also added a photo of our family taken down at the snow as few weeks ago.

Our daughter’s artwork

But no fridge door is complete without artwork…especially when you have young kids. Our daughter loves drawing rainbows and they really are very good at turning your mood around. How could you ever look at a rainbow and feel sad? I have a self-portrait by our son up as well as something he calls the never-starting never-ending picture. He ended up putting a bloodshot eyeball in it. He’s rubbed dirt in his eye that day and ended up off at the doctor and returning looking like Pirate Pete.

Our son’s drawing: The Never-starting, Never-ending Picture”

As much as I’ve been steadily collecting these fridge magnets over the years, I’ve never thought about them like this before. Done an inventory and joined all the dots. It’s quite amazing really when you consider what a simple fridge door can say about who you really are.

Well, just one last word about what isn’t on my fridge door.

I have a magnetic whiteboard beside the fridge and it is the organiser albeit with a huge paper sunflower made by our daughter stuck to one side. I just can’t seem to stick to the straight and narrow!

What do you have stuck on your fridge door? I’d love to hear your stories too!