198. Canberra

From Moss Vale it was an easy run through Goulburn to Canberra. We headed straight for Julie and Allan’s in Hawker and as before parked Westy in their curved driveway,  moved into their enchanting, colourful home full of eclectic art works, and for the next two days were spoilt rotten.  If, in the future, anyone admires my tiny shortbread custard kisses, they can thank Julie for giving me the recipe.

We wanted to avoid Anzac Day’s attendant traffic and heightened security, so did not stay in Canberra nearly as long as we would have wished. We did however manage to fit in a visit to an amazing craft and food market in the city,. The chocolate coated strawberries were at least 5 cm (2 inches) long.

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Sugar cane, anyone? Just take some home.

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Young Australian Beanball trees.  ‘Castanospermum australe’, also known as the Moreton Bay Chestnut.  I’ve never seen them grown like this before. A quick Google search reveals:

* The leaves and seeds are toxic to livestock.
* Due to its extensive root system, it should not be planted within 10 metres of drainage lines, sewers, house foundations, garages or swimming pools.

The Black Bean has also proved valuable as a timber species, it’s seeds have been utilized – following extensive preparation as a food by Aborigines and it contains alkaloids which have been shown to have anti-HIV and anti -cancer properties.

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In the nearby Glass Centre we watched a master glassblower making an impossibly large and delicate vase, assisted by a very efficient assistant; it was a pleasure to watch two people working so well together.

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Here the assistant is blowing down a pipe as the master keeps the vase in rotation.

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Forming the delicate neck.P1150469

Here the assistant is well rugged up ready to transfer the vase with both asbestos-clad hands to the oven where it will gradually cool down.  I tried to capture the moment the vase was broken off from the rod holding it, but the movement was too quick.

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Heading south for the coast next day, we wondered if we were in Otago.

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P1150493We stopped at Braidwood to see an amazing display of bespoke furniture at what is called simply the Wood Shop/Factory. As you walk in you are confronted by this simply stunning cabinet:

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Crafted by Geoff Hannah, it too six and a half years to make “….. using 34 different Australian and international timbers, 4 species of shell and 17 varieties of precious stone with extensive marquetry inlays on 18 doors and on, and in, 140 drawers. “ Hannah lives in Lismore and by a lucky coincidence the cabinet was due to be returned to him about the time there was severe flooding of the region; if the cabinet had been returned any earlier it would most likely have been severely damaged or lost.

Here are two hall tables which I loved, only about $8,000 each ….

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And other smaller objects including left and right handed bread knives ….P1150498P1150500

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Wimsical ‘feet’ …

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Floor lamps …

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Upstairs there were two special exhibitions:‘Spatial Curvature’ – fine furniture by Darren Oates, and  ‘The language of Light’ paintings by Rick Cochrane and Chan Dissanayake. I especially liked this watercolour by the latter. So simple yet appealing with wonderful technique. I learned watercolour at school but was never an artist, unlike my granddad.

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By then we were hungry so what better than to have lunch in the little cafe next door, in an ivy-draped courtyard. The people at the next table, of course, were Kiwis!

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Then on down the  mountain to Bateman’s Bay and then Bawley Point a little further north where old friends from university days were waiting for us.

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