Lewis' Exploring Oz

On and off the beaten track…………………….

Our Nations Capital

Posted by lewisfamilyexploringoz on May 23, 2011

AIS Rockwall

Hi Everyone,

Rowing machine

Soccer - cool

Well we were only going to stay here in Canberra for a few days but as it is Easter and school holidays, accommodation is a bit scarce in caravan parks. We are staying at the Canberra Carotel Motel and Caravan Park which doesn’t take bookings and there is also a Folk Festival on this Easter Weekend as well so we thought we’d get in early to make sure we could get a spot. Lucky we did as the park was quite full already and it was only Tuesday.  The park is huge and they quite often have schools and other large groups there so we managed to get a powered spot, with water, next to one of the recreation rooms. Thankfully as it was school holidays they said there would be no school groups using the room next to us and other caravans soon followed. We want to be here for Anzac Day and attend the Dawn Service otherwise we would head off as it absolutely freezing cold here! It is a beautiful Autumn here too at the moment with the trees all in different colours too.  We haven’t seen a proper Autumn in so very long and Canberra is putting on

Shooshing on the slopes

Gold for Wade!

a great show.

First stop was the Australian Institute of Sport. You can pay to do a 90 minute tour of the facilities and they are conducted by some of the athletes who attend the Institute.  We went to a room that showcases a lot of the memorabilia of past and present athletes and also had some fun and interactive things to play with.  There was a lot of virtual games and testing of skills, like the AFL footy goal kicking, stumping the cricket wickets, kicking a soccer goal and basketball. There was also a medal dias set up with gold, sliver and bronze in front of a fake crowd so you could have a photo and pretend – Wade was the quickest so he jumped on the gold, Dan next for the silver and Joel got the bronze.  Lots of protests but told them to put it in writing! hee hee.  We took a tour of the grounds and they explained a bit about what a life in day of an athlete is like.  Quite different to a ‘normal’ Joe Blow’s life that’s for sure. We were lucky to watch some of the Australian Ladies

Weights room

Olympic Training Pool

Gymnastic Team in training and some younger ones here on a camp.  There were some amazingly talented girls in that group. Next stop was the basketball arena which also doubles as a small stadium for Music events as well.  We went through the volleyball area where new technology has enabled them to install a new flooring which helps to reduce the amount of jarring and injuries that befall volleyball players and is now of Olympic standard and used in all competitions.  It was interesting to learn that you won’t get a look in for a spot on the team if you are not at least 6ft 6in. Holy crap, we saw a mark on the wall indicating that height and it was bloody high up.  Apparently there is only one male on the team who is not that tall and he is the “Libero” and he needs to be very quick and agile and that’s a bit hard to be when you are 6’6″! (Also he doesn’t play at the net so no need for the height) Next stop was the training pool for the swimmers.  What an amazing integration of technology.  The pool has been built with sensors and underwater cameras as well as a glass viewing platform around the sides, underneath the pool. They also have massive monitors set up around the pool so that swimmers can try out different things and watch the re-runs to see how they went.  The pool is 50m but has a second set of starting blocks that can be moved to create 2 x 25m pools for specific training of say dives, or tumbleturns or stroke techniques.  It was quite amazing.  Next stop was the Gym and Weights area and it was huge! Daniel has requested a similar set-up when we stop travelling and we both replied, Love to….as soon as we win Lotto! It is also used for injury recovery and there is a massage room as well. We finished up the tour and headed out for some healthy lunch at Subway.

DNA Sculpture from Star Wars

Blimp driving skills

Robot = awesome

Hovercraft chair = fun

Our next day visit was to Questacon, the Australian National Science and Technology Centre. We spent almost the entire day here and loved it.  There is a huge plastic sculture of a DNA molecule, on the walkway up through the centre, which didn’t really interest the kids until they read that it had been in one of the Star Wars Movies.  Sure enough, they checked it out when we got back to the van and it was used in a scene in the movie “The Empire Strikes Back”. We loved this place as there was so much interactive and hands-on demonstrations of things chemical, biological, physical and technological.  Usually when we visit places we are out of school holidays and public holidays but this time we were in the middle of both! There were a few schools here as well and just so many people it was ridiculous but we worked out their schedules and went the opposite way so as not to clash. I think Dan and Wade’s favourite was controlling a blimp and driving it through a suspended hula hoop in the air, like a goal! There was fierce competiton for this exhibit!  If you have been to Scitech in Perth then this is very similar but much bigger.  There are


different rooms and levels with all sorts of puzzles and explanations from Dinosaurs and earthquakes to Music and Light and everything in-between.  One of the last exhibits was a prototype robot which could animate, talk and sing and was very entertaining.  We listened to a talk about H2O and learned how very little fresh water we actually have on our planet! The kids loved the way he made “water” from igniting a balloon filled with hydrogen and vuola` water droplets. They enlist help from the audience (mainly the kids) to help demonstrate ideas and experiments and you come away with just a little more understanding of what we need to do to help presserve our water supply.  It tied in nicely with the H2O—Soak Up the Science exhibit which is Questacon’s new permanent exhibition about water, with 16 interactive exhibits about how water behaves, how it shapes our world and how we use this precious resource. All in all a very educational and entertaining day.

The next day we visited our friend Tibor and offered to cook a fish dinner and made him a birthday cake as it is Good Friday and Tibor’s birthday.  We had many drinks and way too much to eat but it was great to catch up with him and we all watched the old classic “Ford Fairlane”- The kids had quite a giggle at the movie. We were having such a great time that I forgot to take some photos:(. We had quite a late night so a sleep in was definitely on the cards for tomorrow. And it is freezing cold as well so a sleep in is well on the cards:)

HMAS Brisbane Gun Mount

Centurion Tank

Inside front of Memorial

ANZAC Memorial and Parade

The rain has put a damper on any outdoor exercise so we decided to go bowling instead. Nice change of pace and kept us dry for awhile too.

Sunday saw us visit the War Memorial in Canberra.  There is so much to see and do here and it costs absolutely nothing to go.  The first thing we saw was a full-sized Centurion Tank and Wade was up on it before we got there and then read the sign – Please keep your kids off!:) oops. We have a few family members who have served and fallen in the wars so I wanted to go to the research room and look up the information. Joel took the boys downstairs to the see and read about the planes and watch some movies and I chatted to the lady in the Research Room.  It’s quite busy around here which was wonderful to see and I think it’s also that it is ANZAC Day tomorrow.  There is a wealth of

Exquisite Mosaics

Roll of Honour Wall

Tomb of Unknown Soldier

information about WW I and II, Gallipoli, the Korean War and the Vietnam War.  We were here for the best part of a day and still didn’t get to see and read everything.  The exhibits were amazing and I can’t wait to come back here one day, without the kids, and spend a lot more time reading about our country’s history and remembering those who have bravely fought and died for this great country of ours.  The staff were absolutely first class and ever so helpful.  There is wonderful exhibiton on at the moment about the “Rats of Tobruk”, which is so very good. There is so much to see and outside, there are memorial plaques for just about every group that has been invovled with our defence in one way or another.

There is also a whole street, called ANZAC Parade which has various statues and sculptures representing each war on either side of the road.  It is a remarkable place. In the area of the “Tomb of the Unknown Soldier” there are the most amazing walls done with mozaic tiles to make the magnificent pictures of different servicemen and women. The entire walls are all tiled and the pictures are  just intergrated into the tiles and there are the most beautiful stained-glass windows above as well.  I had to go right up and touch it. Absolutely gob-smakkingly brilliant and beautiful. As we left we asked about parking for tomorrow morning

Medals of Service


as they close a lot of the roads surrounding the Memorial for the ANZAC Day Dawn Service.  We found some areas where we might be able to park and set off for home for dinner and a very early night. It is so cold here that we have been putting the heater on in the van overnight because we just cannot warm up. The average temp has been about 3 – 4 degrees but as we arose at 3:45am it was a lovely 6 degrees:) The kids set their own alarms and we were off by 4am! Yep couldn’t believe it myself but there we were.  We rugged up in our jackets, beanies and scarves and managed to get a car park not too far away and also some seats for the Dawn Service.  It was amazing to see the crowd build and how cosmopolitan the crowd was as well.  They turned off all the main lights just before 5:30am and then the service started. It was so moving and I always shed a tear at the Last Post and Rouse. I always thought it was called Reveille but found out this whilst there:  On ANZAC Day, Reveille or Rouse breaks the silence that follows the playing of the Last Post, symbolising the

Ivo Brian Joy - Lest We Forget

OMG It's so cold

awakening of the dead in the next and better world. Rouse is the bugle call more commonly used in conjunction with the Last Post and to the layman is often incorrectly called Reveille. Although associated with the Last Post, Reveille is rarely used because of its length.  The main speaker for the service was Mark Willis, a Chaplain in the Canberra Royal Australian Air Force.  He spoke of remembering the spirit of ANZAC and to simply come to remember the ordinary person and to pay tribute to those who put freedom for others before their own interests.  “Ordinary men and women who are prepared to make personal sacrifices for the freedom and quality of life that we enjoy today. They believed strongly in a cause – freedom. And so they gave up their ordinary lives in the peace and quiet of the bush and cities of pre-war Australia because they felt it was their duty. The trouble though with ordinariness is that it can be easily forgotten.”  Lest we never forget. Amen to that! After the service we paid our respects at the Tomb of the Australian Unknown Soldier and left 4 poppies at the Roll of Honour for Joel’s great Uncle who died on the beach at Gallopoli, on this day in 1915.  We decided to treat ourselves to a yummy cooked breakfast at the War memorial as by now our tummies were growling.

Massive Flagpole 81m high

Harold Holt

Marble Everywhere

We visited the new Parliament House in the afternoon.  It is quite a striking building and when you are at the War Memorial and look straight down ANZAC Parade you can see Parliament House quite vividly and clearly as there is an 81m-high, stainless steel flagpole on the roof!  The Australian Flag that flies is approximately the same size as a double-decker bus and is replaced every 2 months as it gets ripped and torn. It is the largest stainless steel structure in the Southern Hemisphere and has no bolts, it’s all riveted. We sat in the House of Representatives and the Senate Chambers, although neither were sitting today.  It looks just like it does on the telly too, just without the Kindergarten antics that we usually see and hear! The lovely lady who was our guide was very funny and knowledgeable about the place and made it quite enjoyable.  There are pictures/paintings of each of our Prime Ministers and the kids got to see a picture of, and read about, Harold Holt. They remembered that we had been to Cheviot Beach where he had drowned. Cool, glad to see they are remembering some of this stuff:) The portraits are so life-like and very good. There is a lot of information about our Parliamentary System and former Governors and Prime Ministers, which is all very interesting but a little boring to the kids. There is also one of only four surviving 1297 issues of the “Magna Carta”. For the non-history buffs, the Magna Carta was written about 700 years ago and basically King John wrote that no-one is

House of Reps Chambers

Senate Chambers

Magna Carta

above the law, not King or his subjects, the Government or the governed and it became the foundation stone of constitutional and parliamentry government. Whew!  We rode the elevator to the roof to take in the views of the city and to see the huge flagpole and flag.  The interior of the building is full of italian marble and absolutely gorgeous.  Even the stairs are all tiled in marble, the side rails are all sculptured marble, it really is quite beautiful.  By this stage we were a bit bushed after our early start and headed back to camp for a bit of a nanna nap and

Autumn in Canberra


International Cricket Hall of Fame

Sporting legend

We bit farewell to Canberra and headed up towards Bowral.  We stopped at another free camp for the night (Camps5 #541 Kingsbury VC Rest Area). There are a succession of Rest Areas from Canberra to Moss Vale that are dedicated to Victoria Cross Medal recipients.  Each Rest Area has signage which describes the individual and their heroic feats that led to the Medal.  It was very interesting but sad at the same time. We left the van and headed into Bowral, to go to the Sir Donald Bradman Museum, which is now called “The International Cricket Hall of

Bradman Gallery

The Ashes story

Fame“.  It was fantastic.  There were 6 huge rear projection screens showing old matches, sitting on top of boards that chronicled the history of cricket throughout the years.  There are exhibits pre war, post war and up to and including modern-day cricket. Lots of interactive areas to find out information and play games (yeah we lost the kids for awhile:)) and loads of memorabilia. It was interesting to learn the origins of “The Ashes”. In 1882 England lost it’s first home test and the London Sporting Times published an obituary citing the death of english cricket. The following test was in Australia and two Australian women presented the English captain Bligh with a perfume bottle, supposedly containing the ashes of a bail.  Bligh’s widow presented the “urn” to the Marylebone Cricket Club in 1927 where it remains forever more.  It does not leave England no matter who wins it. Amazing. There is also a whole area upstairs dedicated to “The Boy from Bowral” himself,

Camp at Binalong Oval

Sir Donald Bradman. He led a very interesting life indeed and what an amazing gentleman. It’s a shame some of our current sportsmen don’t take a leaf out of his book. A class act all the way! We headed back to camp and decided to keep pushing on a little further to another free camp, (Camps 5 #652) at Binalong.  We pulled up just before dusk and met the gentleman who mows the footy field behind the Rest Area. He suggested we pull up closer to the oval and park up away from the road.  It was very nice of him and there was even some power there as well.  A bonus in the morning too as we also found a tap to fill our water tanks.  The kids managed to have a great time running around the oval and climbing the rugby goal posts-yeah get rid of some of that energy before getting in the car:)

Till Next Time



One Response to “Our Nations Capital”

  1. Marge Hynoski said

    I used to take school excursions to canberra and we stayed at the Carotel.

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