Thursday, 27th September

There was no time for beach walking this morning. Given the usual Australian distance issue, although Narrawallee is considered relatively ‘close’ to Canberra, it is two and a half hours away!

We set off at around 8.00 am. It was a beautiful day. Our route initially took us along the coast and then at Batemans Bay we turned right to go inland. We were soon in the rain forest area. The road twisted and turned and there was dappled sunlight through the trees. When a long view appeared again, there were mountains in the distance. We travelled through the Misty Mountain National Park. We were on the Kings Highway. There were roadsigns reminding drivers to beware of wildlife. Our route took us upward and over the Clyde Mountain Range where things levelled off. Eventually the Bush ended and we were into pastureland again. There were large outcrops of stones.

The first real town we came across was called Braidwood. This was a pioneer town first settled by Europeans in the 1820. Gold was discovered in the area in the 1850’s, but its major claim to fame is that it was the location for the Ned Kelly film. It has its own racecourse which we passed by.

We stopped at Bungendore for a coffee. We were about 38 Km from Canberra. It had an excellent wood turning shop. A possibly little known fact about Bungendore is that un January 2017 at the annual show, the town took the record for the most number of Dachshunds outside of a Dog Show, with 154 of the dogs in attendance. Fancy!

We soon arrived in Canberra. First impressions were of a city of clean lines and modern buildings, with a lot of water and grass and no skyscrapers. It had the manicured look of being carefully devised and planned – a marked contrast to London as a capital, which just ‘evolved’. Everything was so spacious and pristine.

Our first stop was the National Portrait Gallery. This was excellent. We were treated to rich pickings of portraiture from the indigenous people, to the first and then second wave of settlers, the war years, the personalities of the later part of the 20th century and finally, contemporary portraits. Both the artists and the subjects were described in detail. It was really interesting. We thoroughly enjoyed it. After a good couple of hours it was time to move on and we went to find our accommodation for the night and have lunch, prior to launching ourselves on our ‘main event, the Floriade.

Floriade is described as Australia’s biggest celebration of Spring and runs for a month from the 14th September. We were to have two visits. One in the daylight, which was free and then in the evening when we had tickets to see the whole thing lit up for what was described as the Nightfest, when music, food and alcoholism was added to the mix.

There were tulips of all colours – Mick feared that Amsterdam might be totally denuded!

Just by contrast there were some crocheted poppies……..

………and then there was the Gnomes Knoll

And my particular favourites – the homeless gnomes

We had to adjourn to a hostelry between sessions and when we returned, it was dark and the whole thing was lit up!

We stayed to see two of the programme’s singers, but then decided we had probably had enough excitement for the day and adjourned to our room for a nightcap which turned into something of a riotous assembly.

It is back to Sydney tomorrow…..

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