Thursday, November 5, 2015

Canberra, Lake Burley Griffen - Central Basin - November 2015

Alright, its about time for another post, I've just finished writing up our West Highland Way walk on my Crazy Guy journal so I've been neglecting the blog a little. We've also just come back from a trip up to Canberra so I figured that I would do a quick post about our stay there. I mentioned to my neighbour Daniel that we were going to Canberra, his response was a classic 'what, have you run out of good places to go?' I mumbled a few things about culture and art but I think that he suspects that his neighbour is a boring old fart....actually come to think of it he is probably a bit closer to the mark than I'd like to think!

Hotel Hotel, Acton.

I arrived in Canberra after a small detour to Mt Jagungal on the way up, Mt Jagungal is a two day walk in the Jagungal Wilderness area near Mt Kosczuiosko and by the time I met up with Sam at the Hotel Hotel (that's not a typo) in Canberra I was ready for a wash and a bit of relaxation. Sam had flown up after finishing work for the week and was set up quite comfortably at the flash hotel. Being a little tired after my 40 kilometre walk on the way up we decided that we would do a fairly relaxing walk in Canberra, choosing a walk called the Lake Burley Griffen - Central Basin, at just over 5 kilometres on easy paths it should prove pretty cruisey.

The National Portrait Gallery.

So, after a night recovering at the hotel we headed over to the National Portrait Gallery where we parked the ute. Before starting the walk we checked out the National Portrait Gallery, over the years we had never actually visited this gallery but it was a pleasant surprise. If you happen to find yourself at the gallery check out the painting of Bob Brown and the Franklin Blockade, I studied the painting for more than five minutes and continued to discover new details, I really liked all the little alien like greenies running around the bush. As an art critic I make a good bushwalker but I really liked this.

The Bob Brown painting.

Leaving the Portrait Gallery we wandered down to the shore line of Lake Burley Griffen and reset the GPS. We walked the central basin in a counter clockwise direction from the lake shore in front of the High Court of Australia. Almost immediately we left the lake shore to check out the extensive sculpture garden hidden in the native bush at the National Gallery, the sculptures proving a little easier to photograph than the paintings inside the Portrait Gallery. We were lucky today that we had mainly blue skies which always help the photos a bit, the weather was a little unsettled though so it also promised the chance to get some shots of the billowing cumulonimbus, always a favourite.
The National Gallery's Sculpture Garden.

After the sculptor garden we crossed the Kings Bridge over Lake Burley Griffen to the north side of the lake, the day was now quite warm and the concrete path radiated the heat enough that we appreciated the shade when it came. Our first landmark on the north side of the lake was the National Carillon, a tall slender tower with bells in it that ring every quarter of an hour. The National Carillon was a gift to Australia from Great Britain on the 50th anniversary of the National Capital. We were now on the R G Menzies walk around the north side of the lake which we followed from the Carillon to Nerang Pool, on the way passing Blundell's Cottage, one of the oldest buildings in Canberra.

The path climbing onto the Kings Avenue Bridge, even the footpaths look good.
Would you call this street art? This is a section of the foot path.
The National Carillion.

Crossing the foot bridge over the entrance to Nerang Pool we headed off towards the Commonwealth Avenue Bridge, heading around Regatta Point. Along this section is an interesting skeleton type sculpture of the earth which is there to commemorate Captain Cook's three voyages around the world. We now climbed up onto the Commonwealth Avenue Bridge and crossed back over Lake Burley Griffen, being up a little higher allowed us a bit more of a view of the surrounding city as well as the storm clouds building up behind Black Mountain.

Parliament House from the north side of Lake Burley Griffen.
The bridge over the entrance to Nerang Pool....a small lake adjoining Lake Burley Griffen.
One of the locals on Lake Burley Griffen.
Captain Cook's Skeleton Globe.

Once we were back on the south side of the lake we followed the Australian of the Year walk along the lake shore, coincidently we were sharing the same hotel as our currant Australian of the Year, Rosie Batty. After passing the National Library and the High Court of Australia we arrived back at the start point near the National Portrait Gallery. Our afternoon stroll around the lake had been the perfect way to loosen up my sore leg muscles.

There were a few storm clouds building up behind Black Mountain.
Approaching the High Court.
Back at the start, The National Portrait Gallery.
Now I don't normally talk a lot about the accommodation that we stay in on these trips but I thought I'd branch out a bit on this post. As I mentioned before we stayed at the Hotel Hotel in the trendy suburb of Acton. The hotel was full of modern art, beautiful public area's and hipsters, now two out of three of those thing are a positive, I'm not so sure about skinny dudes with trendy facial hair but they seemed to be the look for the hotel, I don't think the local bogans would get much of a shot at working at this hotel. Naturally with me being quite the hipster myself I fitted in well:) The hotel was also incredibly dark, and by dark I don't mean in a David Lynch type way, I mean needing a torch in my room kind of way, we had a massive room that faced an internal courtyard and there wasn't a lot of light getting into the room. The room we stayed in had the biggest bathroom of any hotel that we've ever stayed in, complete with a huge free standing bath and a massive double shower with the choice of four shower heads!

Fixies in a trendy hotel, who would of thought.

I may have stayed in a hipper hotel, but I really can't remember when.
The room was massive if a little on the dark side, I was happy with the free wifi though.
The bathroom was about the size of my first house, the bath was a pretty sweet way to recover from my Mt Jagungal walk.
It would appear that hipster's do have a sense of humour!

The neighbourhood around our hotel was also super trendy too, with lots of street art and nice cafes and restaurants. Apart from our usual time spent at cafes we also easily filled in a couple of hours wandering the streets of Acton checking out all the nooks and crannies. One thing you don't get in Canberra is gritty, all the public areas are squeaky clean and in most cases very well manicured, some would say too sanitised and sterile.
There was plenty of street art around Acton.

The Dirt
As I've mentioned we stayed at the Hotel Hotel, we enjoyed the experience but if we go back we'd try and get a room with an out side view. The walls and roof of our massive room were rendered to look like bare concrete which, along with the lack of natural light gave our room a bit of a cave like feel, to the point where I had to break out the head torch to read the whimsical evacuation plan! Our Canberra walk was out of 'Canberra's Best Bush , Park & City Walks' 2nd edition, it was written by Marion Stuart and published by Woodslane, they don't have a website that I can see so no link. We walked 5.77 kilometres and climbed a grand total of 32 metres on this stroll, needless to say this is an easy walk. If you like public art and history as well as easy paths this walk would be worth checking out.

This work was called 'Carbon' it looked like roots coming out of our hotel and was made of recycled and shredded rubber tyres and hoses.
Sam, checking out the lake from Aspen Island.

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