All Things Sustainable

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Canberra – a well kept secret?

GEI am sure that Canberra must be Australia’s best kept secret, there are often groaning sounds of boredom when the name is mentioned but I really enjoy it and always find interesting things to do and places to visit.
My most recent visit was a weekend in August, I had arranged it with family members and travelled up the Clyde Mountain road on a Friday afternoon, we met for drinks and dinner that night at The Pot Belly in Belconnen. The Pot Belly is something like a local pub with overtones of an old fashioned jazz cellar and a bistro with live music. It has good food and a great atmosphere, I had fried peppers stuffed with feta cheese coated in a tempura type batter. Really good, mild at first and then a warm chilli taste as you reach the last bite, No photos of this dish (which is a shame because it was served on a bread board) nor of the venue I’m afraid but they do have a Facebook page you can check out.
The next notable event was a visit to Geoscience Australia, the national agency for geoscience and geospatial information. Does this sound boring? Well it isn’t. This establishment opens its doors to the public for one day each year and offers an insight into their work.

Geoscience Australia opened its doors to the public and it was a great success

Geoscience Australia opened its doors to the public and it was a great success

The open day is really successful, engaging children and awakening their curiosity and their interest in science. However there is also plenty of information and activity interesting and complex enough to engage the enquiring adult as well and the day included several 30 minute talks on diverse subjects covering some of the ways that geoscience is being applied to important challenges such as managing ground water and refining GPS to centimeter accurate positioning. There was a tour of the Tsunami Warning Centre, a tour of the laboratory and something called “Fossil Fun” (bookings essential for this one) and around 35 or 40 displays.
This was a demonstrate of how a volcano erupts, it was very popular but the timing was a bit unpredictable

This was a demonstration of how a volcano erupts, it was very popular but the timing was a bit unpredictable


One of the displays included seismic surveys – it had sensors set up outside along the fence line and a pad near an instrument centre housed in a tented enclosure. Children were invited to hit the pad with a mallet and look at the effects on the instruments. I didn’t get to see the instruments or hear exactly what was being revealed below the ground because the display was popular, the queue was long and there were so many other things to see.
The activities aimed at children and families were just brilliant, everything from a “GPS geocache adventure” to an appearance by a TRex dinosaur on the balcony.
T Rex appeared on the balcony with great snapping teeth and a loud roar.

T Rex appeared on the balcony with great snapping teeth and a loud roar.

And then it got out
T Rex escaped into the grounds.....

T Rex escaped into the grounds…..

And attacked a visitor. Who said science was boring?
GE
After all this excitement my next Canberra experience was a complete contrast, I went to the Art Gallery with a pre-booked ticket to the Turner From the Tate exhibition, peaceful, calm and colourful this magnificent exhibition was a wonderful counterbalance to the immediacy of the Geoscience experience. I wandered through gallery complete with the hired audio tour which I felt was of limited use although it did draw my attention to one or two things I might otherwise have missed. I have long admired and enjoyed Turner’s work and this exhibition was a joy. Amazingly we were allowed to take photos as long as a flash was not used. Never the less I somehow felt constrained not to photograph the works until I saw the very last watercolour at which point I overcame my reticence and photographed just this one.
An exquisite Turner watercolour.

An exquisite Turner watercolour.


But my wonderful weekend had not yet ended. Without my being aware of it high tea at the Wedgewood tearoom had been booked so the afternoon ended with Champagne, Earl Grey tea and a selection of delicate sandwiches, savories and sweets served on fine china.
I love Canberra.

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