Oz in '08 -- Beth and John Lucas Tour Australia, 3
All pictures, unless otherwise noted, are copyright 2008 by John A. and Elizabeth B. Lucas. All rights reserved.
Introduction Sydney Canberra Melbourne Western Victoria Queensland Uluru-Kata Tjuta Notes on the Photos GBCC
Saturday, 07 June 2008 to Monday, 09 June 2008
We took a taxi back to the airport (domestic terminal) and picked up a rental car, heading back down the Hume Highway as we had the day before with Richard, except now WE were driving. Once out of the Sydney area, the Hume Highway was a great way to start the driving as it is largely a motorway (divided and limited access) and not far from US standards. Indeed, we had very little trouble driving the 3000+ kilometers we put on the two rental cars. Australian roads have lanes nearly as wide as US ones and the
signage is GREAT, even on C-class roads in rural areas. We experienced a lot fewer wrong and missed turns than we had in the UK in 2005. We suppose some of it is getting used to driving on the other side, but the roads were certainly more forgiving generally with gentler curves and shoulders rather than curbs and bushes at the edges of lanes.
Canberra, ACT (Carwoola, NSW) and Martin Hood
Martin Hood was the first person to join the GBCC in 2001 after the original four. Martin and Rosanne live near Queanbeyan, NSW which in turn is near Canberra and the ACT. Here they are with John as well as a picture of their "front yard" (which really only goes about as far as that utility pole in the picture). Nonetheless, a spectacular view. We're glad we don't have to shovel that driveway (on the far left); but then again neither do they! They did show us a picture of a "frosting" of
snow on the grasses from a past year. They had flowers, vegetables and quince and apple trees still heavily laden with fruit when we were there. Not in our kind of winter!
Martin drove us into Canberra
to the Parliament
. Australia is an interesting mix of things British, things American, and things uniquely Australian. Canberra and the ACT
are no different. Like the US:
- Canberra is the national capital like Washington and both were built as planned cities AFTER their nations were born
- The Australian Capital Territory is like the District of Columbia
- The two houses of parliament are called the House of Representatives and the Senate and representation is similar (with the House based on population and the Senate based on a fixed number from each state and a smaller number from the two territories (ACT and Northern Territory))
On the other hand:
- The ACT is much larger than the city of Canberra
- The Prime Minister, the leadership of the Senate and the government is determined by the majority party
- The chambers are decorated with the same color schemes as the British House of Commons (green) and House of Lords (red)
- Like the House of Lords, the Senate approves or disapproves legislation and doesn't initiate bills as in the US
John was interested to see that the leaders of government and opposition SIT at the dispatch table, rather than popping up and down from their seats in their respective front benches. Seems sensible to John, though he understands about tradition. (But UK Prime Minister's Question Time has an aspect of physical as well as mental exercise or it seems so to us.)
We got into a conversation with a docent in Parliament about the terms of office, the US primary elections and the interminable election campaigns (they seem so to us as well and we get a lot more of the activity than those of you overseas!)
Had we had more time I would have tried to see the High Court as a dutiful member of HP's Corporate Legal and Government Affairs organization. Next time, perhaps?
Here's a view from atop the Parliament Building. (It was dug into a hill and the hill rebuilt on top and around it to the original contours.) At extreme left is Commonwealth Avenue to City Hill, then the Captain Cook Memorial Water Jet in Lake Burley Griffin and on the right the Treasury and behind it the National Library.
Martin and Roseanne took us to Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve
, in the ACT and about 40 kilometers by air from their house. Tidbinbilla was devastated by the bush fires in 2003 and while the vegetation is making a surprising comeback, the animals are taking longer to recover. This is typical Australian "bush" of green-gray Eucalyptus trees which drop leaves and branches thoughout the year. The pond
is not a seasonal billabong (and does not have a lurking crocodile -- wrong part of the country for these). It did have ducks and black swans with goslings. We looked in vain for Bushy-tailed Rock Wallabies, a rare and bashful species. We did see "roos" from other species in several locations.
Martin also showed us the Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex
near Tidbinbilla and part of NASA. It wasn't getting late and there wasn't light for photography. See the Wikipedia article for illustrations.
On Monday the 9th (The Queen's Birthday Holiday) we left the Hood's and headed south from Canberra on the Monaro Highway (#23/B23 in Victoria) through Cooma, Bombala (sounds African doesn't it?) to Cann Valley. This was a gorgeous drive mostly in sun through first mountains and then the Cann River Gorge (a very twisty road!). We turned west on the Princes Highway (A/M1). The A1 goes ALL the way around Australia, sometimes near the coast as here and at other times especially in the north at some distance from
the coast -- a VERY long road indeed. We spent Monday night in Lakes Entrance, Victoria.
Lakes Entrance, VIC
Lakes Entrance is, well, the entrance to a chain of Gippsland freshwater lakes. It is connected by footbridge to the eastern tip of 90 Mile Beach which approximates its name, too. So Lakes Entrance is a beach town as well as a fishing port. It was definitely the off season! The wind and water were calm; the fishing port was in and not moving; very few moving vehicles on the roads and more than a few establishments closed.
After breakfast, we strolled along the waterfront, cameras in hand, but did not go across the footbridge to the beach. Here is part of the waterfront, rimmed by small Norfolk Island Pines and other trees. The weather was clearing from the west which was the direction we were intending to go toward Melbourne. 90 Mile Beach is just beyond that line of green vegetation across the water.
The wildlife wasn't doing much moving about either, so we had a few photo opportunities -- here a black swan, a heron, pelicans and a gull.
We drove straight through to Melbourne from Lakes Entrance. See the next page