This week, an episode from the adventures in getting to know my new city.
Annette was visiting for the day, in order to experience the Songlines: Seven Sisters exhibition at the National Museum. We spent a wonderful two hours immersed in a story that is held by a number of Indigenous Australian communities, and traverses much of the country from the West towards the centre. To have the story told in Indigenous voices, via the app we could download and listen to on our phones with our headphones, connected us to the story in a very rich way. Various artistic media were employed so as to evoke the stories and our senses. I am deliberately not telling you the story itself, for that is not my story to tell.
Lunch by the water reminded me of one of the things I missed most during my Scottish Sojourn: the outdoor lifestyle of Australia. It's just not possible in a country that is so much colder and wetter than ours. Actually it was an interesting paradox or juxtaposition or something, for Edinburgh is a very walkable city, and I did walk everywhere, so was outside a lot. Even so, I was paradoxically also quite stuck inside for three years. Pubs and cafes mostly don't have verandahs as they do in Australia; I lived in appartment buildings, three floors up with no balcony. There was no living outside, no lingering or eating; I occasionally took lunch or study to the courtyard of my complex, but then you're stuck with the cigarette smoke that seems much more prevalent in Europe than Australia, and because outside living is not a thing, it is not provided for, so it is uncomfortable and difficult.
Then we spent a few hours at the portrait gallery, enjoying the stories of Australians of different eras and contexts.
Then, over coffee, Annette mentioned the National Rock Garden. Naturally I was curious, so we found it on the map and went to take a look.
Not what you were expecting, right?
This seems so typically Australian, with our Big Pineapples and Bananas and Rocking Horses and Guitars (look them up). Big Rocks. We decided to give awards to some of the states for their rocks.
NSW: greediest, for they have two different rocks.
WA: yummiest, for theirs looked to me like a giant block of chocolate.
Vic: most hipster, for its top hat look.
SA: prettiest, for its all rainbows and sparkles.
You come down from the National Arboretum, cross under the Tuggeranong highway I think it is, and there it is, a collection of rocks beside a car park and a roundabout. Actually, my parents and I discovered the roundabout with its horrid speed bumps when I missed the turn onto the highway a few weeks ago, but didn't realise the rocks were something of significance. The Federation Rocks, opened in 2013 as part of the celebrations of the centenary of Canberra.
Be sure to check them out on your next visit!