Month: September 2009
Yesterday I visited Canberra Floriade 2009, an annual flower and gardening show in Canberra, Australia. Unfortunately I forgot my camera, so I only have Blackberry Pearlphotos to share with you. The Floriade website is actually a really well designed site, and definitely a must see before you visit the show.
The main reason I went to the show was for landscaping ideas, I am currently designing how our backyard will be done. There were a few landscaped areas with different themes that were interesting, but generally the show was a lot smaller than I expected. I guess what is difficult for me to appreciate is the sheer volume and density of flowers. Once you realise that each tulip (and there would be several hundred thousand) planted is an individually purchased, planted and cultivated bulb you can start to understand the amount of effort that goes into the displays. The fact that the show (and parking!) is free is also amazing, especially for someone who comes from Sydney where literally nothing is free.
While I was in Canberra I also visited the War Memorial and the National Portrait Gallery. Both were great venues that I hadn’t visited since the days of school excursions. It was interesting to see the War Memorial is definitely keeping up with the times and has gone for the sensory type experiences. This is particularly true in the post-1945 conflicts area, as well as the Lancaster bomber raid reconstruction (my favourite). I think the War Memorial has struck a really good balance between solemn spaces (like the tomb of the Unknown Soldier) and engaging interactive displays. For people my age who have never directly experienced a war it is difficult to comprehend the warped realities of war based on aging photos and equipment under glass. For me it was strange seeing the names of towns I recognised being discussed, because I was recognising the town names from Band of Brothers and Call of Duty. I believe that information transfer is the most important thing, and if it takes these experiences to do that then so be it. I think the War Memorial is walking the line between entertainment and education very precisely, experiences and blogs are engaging and effective communication tools.
While on the way down to Canberra we stopped at Goulburn. We had coffee at The Roses Cafe, a very nice little cafe that would give the best cafes of Newtown a run for their money for quality and selection of food. There are some good photos of Goulburn and the cafe on this weird worm blog. I actually really enjoyed the architecture and authenticity of Goulburn as a gold rush era inland Australian town and would definitely recommend it as a stopping point on the road between Canberra and Sydney, it is a great insight into the problems with freeway bypasses and McDonald’s service centres.
Sydney Airport is one of only two airports in the world that operate tours around the tarmac (the other is in San Diego, USA). I went on the Sydney Airport tour today, and you can get yourself on the next tour through their website.
The tour goes for a little over 2 hours and covers the vast majority of the airport. It is definitely a tour for aircraft nerds, with a ton of statistics and history being relayed by the very knowledgeable driver the entire time. I do think that even non-nerds would enjoy the close up look at an amazing facility that, these days, many dismiss as little more than a big bus stop.
The most interesting parts for me were the hangers with vehicles under maintenance (including the huge Qantas Airbus A380), seeing a Boeing 747 take off at close range and seeing how friendly all the airport employees are. The tower controllers roll up their blinds and wave, all the pilots wave, the ground crew all wave and even maintenance crew are happy to wave while sitting inside a jet engine. It sounds kind of lame, but you really do feel privileged to be part of a close airport community (even if it has 32,000 employees within it’s fences).
I can recommend the tour to anyone, I did it as a Father’s Day present and I think it was perfectly suited to that. They offer daytime and nighttime tours. I did the daytime and it is probably the nerdier of the two (less food, more time on the tarmac). Enjoy and comment! 🙂