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Published: March 28th 2010
Day 325 - Canberra
For the second day running we waved Caroline & Andy off to work just before 7.30am. It is funny seeing them leave a camp trailer to go off to an office job and sit behind a desk all day. We wonder how many others can boast that!
We’re off for our second day at the War Memorial. We couldn’t get into the education centre yesterday to get a fact sheet about the place so can’t offer any guidance on how it big it is other than it takes more than a day to do it justice! It’s also a free place to visit which is something very special when it’s this higher quality.
As keen as we are to get going around the inside again it’s such a beautiful day we spend the first half of our visit in the grounds enjoying the sunshine. Who knows when we might see the sun again in the UK so we need to get the most of it while we’re out here!
We stop a while to admire the outside of the bridge from HMAS Brisbane (please note my foot position! Am I now truly a
Howells?!) and I also listen intently to Dar while he guides me round the Centurian Tank parked close by telling me about a naughty soldier who once tried to steal one. The lad locked himself in the drivers compartment and started it up but couldn’t move it as the periscopes had been removed so he couldn’t see where he was going! To get him out someone set the fire extinguishers off (red pulley on the outside - if you’re interested!) and the lad soon gave himself up and was marched off for a good talking to! The naughty soldier wasn’t Darryl, just in case you were wondering!
Through the grounds there are several sculptures, all very different and all in memory of different conflicts. There was a family watching their young children playing chase around the Bomber Command memorial and ground workers catching a late breakfast on the steps of the Australian Serviceman. The bronze sculpture was originally set in the Hall of Memory but removed when the tomb for the Unknown Soldier was created. It was then re-sited in the grounds. The Lone Pine tree is the only living ‘sculpture’ here. Grown from the seedling of a pine
cone sent home to a distraught Mother by a soldier who had lost his brother at Gallipoli, the tree was planted in 1934 in memory of all those lost at Lone Pine.
We retrace our steps inside the memorial displays and immediately find areas we completely missed yesterday. The separate Anzac Day tribute, the sculpture of the soldier caked in mud within the Great War exhibition and the film about HMAS Sydney were just a few examples but there were many more.
For the past two days we’ve paid our respects to the Australian lives lost in war but neither of us has ever visited the War Memorial in London to do the same for ‘our boys’, so we make a pact to do just that on our return.
We have a quick look through the souvenir shop and did eventually find a copy of a book we were looking for. You might recognise the name as it’s ‘The Great Escape’ but neither of us ever realised it was written by an Australian who was part of it all. Something else for us to scour the Op Shops for as apparently it’s far better than the film,
although Dar can’t quite believe that!
On the way back to the car park we stop at the sculpture of Simpson and his Donkey. Three ladies were taking an extra special interest in the sculpture and one of them in particular seemed to be very intimate with it. She showed the others a set of finger prints on the donkey’s behind and tells them that “She came into the studio to ask if it was finished yet and touched it with her hand but it was still wet. He replied “It is now!” She also said that the donkey used for the sculpture was from a rescue sanctuary in Collingwood. Who knows how she knew this extra information but there most certainly is a set of finger prints on the donkey’s behind cos we checked for ourselves!
We ate our lunch on the top of Mt Ainslie, admiring the view and chuckling at a team of three chaps trying to record a promo for American Express. They’d chosen a really good spot for the recording, the backdrop was the view of the city down Commonwealth Avenue but things just weren’t going to plan and it took them ages
to get it down. First there were the magpies that kept squawking at the most inopportune moments until one of the chaps shooed them away. Their sound production laptop crashed which meant the presenter had to wait around in the scorching sun in his suit but after about 45 minutes they finally got it done.
The view was great today, the skies were really clear so we thought we’d try and find another lookout to give us the view from the other end of the city. We drove towards and eventually up Capital Hill and we did find a lookout but it was masked by trees which was a shame. We had one more option though, the Telstra Tower. Like most of the towers you have to pay for the privilege but it doesn’t break the bank and we’re soon in the lift heading upwards. We join the hoards of flying ants (weird looking things they are) and check out the 360 degree view. We get the most out of it and spend quite some time with our head in the clouds before sending ourselves a postcard from the vintage post box to get the old postal stamp! Lucky
that we had an Aussie stamp with us as the gift shop doesn’t sell them - that’s a bit silly don’t you think!
By the time we returned to earth and made the drive back to camp, Andy and Caroline were ready and waiting for us. There was a half hearted suggestion we go swimming but then somebody piped up about it being ‘Cheap Tuesday’ and therefore Pizza night. That sounded a much better idea and we set about making our orders. The boys went off to get them while Caroline sorted some ironing and I did a bit more blogging.
Needless to say ‘Cheap Tuesday’ pizzas were a big hit all round! We settled into a couple of games of Rummikub and the usually jokey stories that we like to share to try and put people off!!
There were no dramatics tonight with spiders, lucky really as we were totally out of worktop sterilising spray!
Dar and Sar
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