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Across the Ditch* - Another Chapter in the Annals of the FI/FO** Grandma

Leaving Tasmania and No, I am not flying this one - leaving it to Virgin
* What Tasmanians call  Bass Strait
** Means Fly In/Fly Out in Mining Speak

Just paid my annual state visit to the National Capital to see how the other half lives.  It was a bit different this time. Previous visits to my son and his lovely wife have usually involved a hectic nightlife –drinks at the Geology Bar followed by the odd party, then maybe a 2 a.m. visit to Civic to check out the trendier pubs and clubs. Even if we didn’t go out, we would sit up late to marathon the latest movies.
Now that there is an adorable new  baby in the house – the main reason for this visit, our most exciting nightime adventure was going late night grocery shopping. On the one night when we did stay up to watch a movie, we all fell asleep, which was not necessarily a reflection on the quality of the film. Not that I didn’t have an excellent time - lots of baby cuddles with that delicious new baby smell and I didn’t have to do a single nappy change. It was just a quieter sort of enjoyment which revolved around visiting the Etsy Craft Market and partaking of Canberra’s wide array of food offerings. Three of these I will mention here because they were  a bit different and not  just a way to fill a rumbling stomach.

Artist Fiona Hill stands in front of one of her pieces at the Etsy Craft Market

On the first morning for instance, we had breakfast at Strathnairn,  a historic property that used to be an artists’ collective in the seventies – ah nostalgia! Since then it has grown and expanded over time so that it now provides creative space for emerging artists – kilns, a foundry, many little studios, a cafĂ© and a gallery which has a range of ceramics, textiles, works on paper and in bronze. It is in a rustic bushland setting with lots of birdlife and art work scattered about. Even the junk looks artistic.
Al Fresco Art and Food at Strathnairn

Inside one of the Ceramic Workshops

The Woolshed retains its rustic roots, but is now a function room

Talking Heads peep out from behind the agapanthus, just one of many artworks scattered around the property

Even the sheds display a certain amount of artistic flair

Heck! Even the tree stumps are getting in on the act

Grill’d was not only a new experience in hamburgers, with emphasis on locally sourced produce and grass fed beef, but what I really liked was their commitment to promoting and supporting local charities, community groups and causes. Each purchase provides you with a number of tokens which you can choose to put into one of three jars each month e.g.  – on this occasion helping a young disabled cyclist achieve his goal of competing somewhere and the local scouts,  but they have also helped the Women’s Legal Service, youth on the streets, mothers  and families battling cancer, a non – profit food van, and so forth.

Down at the Hamlet. This little van serves a variety of milk shakes including a lemon meringue flavoured one
Another place I particularly enjoyed was the Hamlet, a repurposed warehouse which now houses an eclectic mix of food vans, small design studios, specialty bakeries and even a barber shop. The food is cheap and varied and there is a great atmosphere. Apparently it’s even better in the evenings when there is also music and entertainment. In fact, the whole area  around Lonsdale Street in Braddon, which was formerly devoted to services to the automotive industry (I had my car air conditioning repaired here last time), is rapidly turning into one of the hippest and hottest parts of town, where even the op shops are upscale.The car industry has meanwhile moved to the suburbs which are also burgeoning. Canberra is full of new subdivisions that seem to have sprung fully formed from the earth since I was here last. Now women are driving the muscle cars which have room for prams and shopping and their men are driving the small sporty ones.

The Barber at work. Evidence of the building's former life can be seen above the shop fittings

Apparently it's even more lively at night when music is added to the mix
Spirit of Free Enterprise - just had to include these two young men selling their Shackleton's iced coffee from the boot of their car outside this precinct

It was a lovely time to be in Canberra. It was still green, warm to hot during the day, but cool at night and it was a delight to catch up with my son and his little family, especially the new baby.  Nice work guys!