Australian Of The Year

It’s been a few years since I’ve travelled to Canberra for the Australian Of The Year Awards. The last time was, I think, 2010 (or thereabouts). Through my work, I have a close relationship with the team organising the awards, and was involved in setting up ABC Radio’s live coverage of the announcements. Having helped set things up, I travelled down for the first year, and left it at that, knowing the team at ABC Canberra do an excellent job with it all. The weather was great this year, and I was really pleased to have travelled down, as I got to meet some terrific folk, hear about some of the amazing stories from the finalists and winners, and also enjoy the sounds of Jessica Mauboy, Paul Kelly (and others), and even got to catch up with an old school friend and her sister. A terrific Sunday night…

Canberra Botanic Gardens

I learned more about Australian plants in an hour walking around the Botanic Gardens, Canberra than I think I’ve learned in my life. Although I was a member of the Gould League as a child, most of the detail about banksias and grevilleas has never really sunk in. I love plants, I’m just not one for “detail”. Ask me to name a flower, and I’d struggle. This is despite having grown up with a garden of my own which I tended with regularity. But with a specialisation in Australian plants, and with a careful as I walked around taking photographs, I learned a lot more. I probably should learn more, eh?

To be honest, I never really intended to visit the Botanic Gardens. I’d caught an ordinary Canberra bus (though labelled it would take you to a bunch of tourist attractions) with a greater interest in seeing the new National Arboretum. Located on land that was devastated in the bushfires of about five years ago, the Aboretum features lots of amazing tree species. Although well attended, I probably arrived there five or ten years early. At the moment, most of the trees are saplings. At the moment, it doesn’t look “visually spectacular”, though it’s conceptually very spectacular. It’s a really great example of the forethought that goes into some of the “nation building” projects you find around Canberra.

Still a wander around the Botanic Gardens (along with lunch) made for a very pleasant way to spend my first part of this trip to Canberra.

Friday Afternoon at Coogee

So it’s Friday afternoon, you’re sitting at home in a t-shirt and shorts, and a friend texts you to say “I need a drink”. A tough week at work, apparently. So you agree to meet for a bite to eat, and can’t decide where to go. “Let’s go to the beach somewhere”, we decided, agreeing quickly on Coogee. “Of all the Eastern suburbs beaches, it’s my favourite, I declared”. “Besides the people on the 372 bus are much nicer than those on the 393 or the 395″, I added. “They stand up for old people, they don’t think their shopping bag is entitled to a paying seat of its own, and they don’t ignore you because they’re so engrossed in their mobile phone”, I said. Ten minutes later we were at Coogee and exploring the options. Quickly we settled on fish and chips at the outdoor cafe near where the buses stop. The food was good, though not great. Later, a walk along the beach, and we both concluded that “oh so necessary drink” wasn’t needed after all. Ice cream, on the other hand :)

Worth the wait: Chinatown Noodle Restaurant on Quay Street

For many years I’ve been a fan of the two dumpling/noodle restaurants in the Burlington Centre in Sydney’s Chinatown. There’s the “popular one” (the one on the left) which always has a queue, and there’s the “less popular one” (on the right) where you can usually get a table fairly quickly. Both sell reasonably cheap, good quality dumplings and noodles. There are countless other restaurants and cafes in Chinatown where you can purchase steamed or pan-fried dumplings, in both Northern and Southern Chinese styles, but these two seem to be the most popular in the part of Chinatown close to where I work.

But even closer, around the corner, there’s far better offering in my opinion at the Chinatown Noodle House on Quay Street. Unlike many other restaurants who pre-prepare and often freeze their noodles and dumplings, these guys appear to make them for you “on demand”. You have to wait a bit longer, but they’re definitely worth the wait. They also have a really fantastic eggplant dish. Highly recommended.

Actions for Tomorrow from Yangjiang Group at 4A

“You always have great exhibitions, but this is the best in a good while”, I told Aaron Seeto, the curator at Sydney’s 4A Gallery. Their current exhibition, “Actions for Tomorrow” is the first solo exhibition in Australia of Yangjiang Group and it’s fantastic.

At the heart of the exhibition is the work of three artists, each with their own speciality who work collaboratively. My own personal favourite is the artist who works with wax, dripping wax over clothing. As you enter the gallery’s ground floor, it’s almost as if you’re entering a clothing store. The surprise is the clothing is covered in candle wax. Here are some photographs from today’s exhibition launch.