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Grounded in the nation's Capital


This was an interactive display, but I got up a bit more close and personal than I should have. This is the before shot, but more about that later

Despite the guilt, I’m in Canberra again for the first time in three years. Although I’ve seen the littlest granddaughters on video chat in the meantime, it’s not the same as being able to be with them in real life. The baby is now a walking, talking little person keen to show me the tree house and the castle while the older one, now aged six simply runs rings around me when we play games and we’ve enjoyed lots of hugs, outings and laughter. I was just getting used to that idea when one member of the family caught Covid. Now it looks like I’ll be staying a lot longer than intended but things will be a bit more subdued. We are having to isolate in separate rooms with son having to run the gauntlet between them, providing meals, sanitation, airflow and recreation and we’re still having to do bedtime stories via video. That’s life I guess, but the weather is perfect and the room service is good. What's not to like?

Before that happened we were having a lovely time. High Tea in the old Canberra Hotel – now the Hyatt which is one of Canberra’s historic buildings. Built in 1924 to house parliamentarians, visiting dignitaries and high officials, it has an interesting design with accommodation centred around eight pavilions which looked out onto the gardens and a very elegant interior. It also had a golf course, tennis courts, a bowling green and a croquet lawn though the latter is now privately owned. Except for the fact that alcohol wasn’t served there until the Back Bar opened in 1928, I can’t imagine why anyone would want to stay anywhere else. During the Great Depression, even Prime Minister Scullin and his wife stayed there rather than in the Lodge in order to save the country money. What a shame they don’t make politicians like that anymore- people who put the good of the country ahead of their own interests! As usual I forgot to take a photo of the food, but let me say the service made me feel as if I was wining and dining at Raffles in the days of Empire. 


Entrance to the grand ballroom, Hyatt Hotel

-Photo credit Cluan


Staircase, Hyatt Hotel

The scene would not have been complete without the discreet piano player

-Photo credits Cluan

I also enjoyed the immersive Van Gogh Alive exhibition on its last night in Canberra. It will be moving on to Parkes and Perth next, so catch it if you can. Mostly it’s a grand audio-visual production about the artist’s life using his paintings and writing to tell the story. The following video will give you a bit of an idea. It has already toured the world from Manilla to Vienna.


There were also several interactive rooms made up to look like the paintings. The one with a field of sunflowers (above) was one of those and lots of people were in there taking selfies. Alas, it turned out to be a bit more immersive than I would have liked. As I leaned in close to get a better shot, I tripped on a little ledge on the edge and fell right in. Luckily it was its last night. 


Inside Van Gogh's bedroom



It was indeed a starry starry night
 -Photo credits Cluan

The nights were warm and pleasant – windless, with lights like the Starry Night picture gleaming on Lake Burley Griffin. Foodwise it was a little United Nations with shops and cafes from all nations amicably rubbing shoulders around city blocks and on the foreshore. At the Indian restaurant we eventually settled on, there were hundreds of dishes from all over India not just the usual staples - samosas, butter chicken, rogan josh, that we usually get at home. It was encouraging to see lots of Indian families dining there too. Other delights included the street art and landscaping which Canberra has always done well, the Chinese Pavillion by the Lake and a playground crawl with my two young playground connoisseurs. It’s in Canberra you’ll see the latest in design and concepts so I’ll write a bit more about that next time.


Perhaps this should say Blurry, Blurry night. The after shot. We had to leave quite soon after that