Anne Marie's Australian Adventure

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Archive for October, 2008

A Visit to the Anzac Memorial

Posted by Anne Marie Serrano on October 27, 2008

We finally visited the Australian War Memorial.  It is a memorial, military museum, and art gallery. It has sections dedicated to the different wars that the Australian Armed forces have been involved from Sudan and the Boar War thru to the current nonsense in Iraq. There were displays of airplanes, tanks and all sorts of weaponry, even the bridge of an old battleship. I enjoyed the exhibits of uniforms and nurses outfits and clothing of the different periods the best. There were plenty of sections honoring famous war heroes who I’m sure are as well known to the Australians as Washington, Patton and MacArthur are to Americans, but frankly unknown to me.

On the steps of the Anzac Memorial facing the Old and New Parliment buildings in the far background.

On the steps of the Anzac Memorial facing the Old and New Parliment buildings in the far background.

The memorial was visited by groups of school children. There assignment – which I overheard given by their teacher – was to pick from the Hall of Valour one person and get the information about them – name, where they served what they did to get the VC – Victorian Cross , the Australian equivalent of the US’s Congressional Medal of Honor. The Hall of Valour has on display the largest collection of these medals along with a history and picture or portrait of each of the recipients and their other medals – very impressive.

There was one display about prisoner of war camps in Germany during WWII. A soldier had taken a coin and chiseled out the center image and created a pin out of the center for his fiancee and a necklace for himself from the the coin’s outer circle. He told her that they should wear them until they are reunited after the war and the coin can be rejoined. He died in the prison camp. They had on display the necklace and the pin in the case. I guess by then I was so emotionally on edge seeing all the weapons and reading about all the lives lost in all the wars over the years that I just broke into tears. I was inconsolable for several minutes. Fergus just hugged me while I stood there crying surrounded by noisy school boys who just thought all this stuff about war and dying was somehow cool. I wanted to say, “This could be you. This could be your sweetheart – broken hearted and alone.”

I found out later that their two families did not know about the coin until the sweetheart died as an old lady and they found her pin. Her family knew she had lost a boyfriend in the war. It wasn’t until they heard about the necklace at the war memorial did they realize that her pin was the other half. Finally in death they were united – I know I’m a hopeless romantic but it makes me tear up just thinking about it.

The grounds of the Memorial are beautiful. Along the paths are plaques honoring different platoons and ships and air force crews. There are cannon barrels on display and along the road up to the building there are statues honoring each war. Trees and lawns cover the sloping landscape. It was a moving experience.

Giant trees on the grounds of the Memorial.

Giant trees on the grounds of the Memorial.

 For bother Danny I’ve included pictures of some of the airplanes displayed inside the Memorial.

 

 

 

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Tasmania Trip

Posted by Anne Marie Serrano on October 13, 2008

Panoramic view of Hobart from Mt. Wellington
                                                         Panoramic view of Hobart from Mt. Wellington

 

We spent six days in Tasmania at the beginning of October. It was beautiful. It was green and weather varied from sunny and clear to rainy and windy but it didn’t stop us from enjoying the sites. We stayed a a cute B&B on the other side of the Derwent River from Hobart city centre. The Orana House is a restored Victorian house with a fascinating history as a summer home for a wealthy Hobart family. Our room at the front of the house had a view of the lawn and gardens with the harbor and Mt. Wellington as a backdrop.
Me in the garden at Orana House B&B

Me in the garden at Orana House B&B

All the comforts of home at the B&B, a computer and a big HDTV.

All the comforts of home at the B&B, a computer and a big HDTV.

On the front lawn of the garden a Masked Lapwing was sitting on her eggs. I never saw her move the entire week except to watch me as I circled the path. I did see another Lapwing flying from tree to tree so I was hoping they were sharing the duties. 

The B&B was very comfortable and not very busy since it was the middle of the week. For more on the Orana House.

We spent the first day exploring Landisfarne and Hobart. We drove up to Mt. wellington since the locals were saying that there aren’t very many days when the sky is clear and the mountain isn’t covered in clouds. On this day it was very clear but up top it was very windy and cold. Fortunately we had our jackets in the car.

 

On a clear day atop Mt. Wellington.

On a clear day atop Mt. Wellington.

On our travels through the streets of Hobart we came upon the Green Monster – not to scary mostly just cute.
We took several day trips outside of Hobart. One day we went to the Cascade Brewery for a tour and a bit of sampling. They have some nice beers and brewed ciders that you can’t even get in Australia because they only make enough to supply Tasmania.
A replica of the extinct Tasmanian Tiger - on my left.

A replica of the extinct Tasmanian Tiger - on my left.

Another day we went to Port Arthur. This as the site of a convict colony. I read a great novel called The Potato Factory by the Australian author Bryce Courtenay which was about some people from England who were sent to Van Dieman’s Land (Tasmania’s original name) as convicts. I finished reading that just before our trip. The site of the prison still has some of the buildings or at least the shell of some since there was a lot of vandalism and fire destruction before they decided to make it a national historic site. We took a short tour where the guide told us the history and then we were free to wander the many buildings and the grounds. Unfortunately, it was a raining day so we didn’t get many pictures. For more click here Port Arthur.
The Guard Tower looks like an old castle.
The Guard Tower looks like an old castle.

On the way to Port Arthur we stopped at the Tasmanian Devil Park. It’s a park for rescued and rehabilitating injured animals, mostly kangaroos, birds and the Tasmanian Devils. The Tassie devil is almost extinct because of a horrible facial tumor disease which suffocates them as the tumor grows. You hardly ever see them in the wild because they are very small (a little bigger than a domestic cat), nocturnal (therefore get killed by cars at night) and very timid (unless you are food). They have poor eyesight but sharp teeth and powerful jaws. We got a picture of one asleep but the pictures of the awake ones were blurry because they never held still for very long. We were also able to see some birds that we may never have seen in the wild such as the Tawny Frogmouth – an owl-like bird. We hate to see animals in cages but in this case all these animals were there because of injuries and the park is doing some good. To learn more about the Tas Devil.

AAAHHHHH, so cute!!

AAAHHHHH, so cute!!You should see his teeth!

You should see his teeth!!!

You should see his teeth!!!

One of the wild birds we’ve really wanted to see are the Fairy Penguins. We read that on Bruny Island there is a natural rookery on the isthmus. To get to Bruny Island you have to drive south of Hobart and catch a ferry to the island. When we finally got to the isthmus the signs said that the penguins don’t come up to the shore until about sunset. It just so happens that that day was Daylight Saving Time change and the sun wasn’t going to start setting until about 8 pm – long after the last ferry back to the mainland. Oh well. So all we have are pictures of where the penguins were going to be.
 
On the island we almost passed the Bligh Museum which would have been a mistake since it was the most interesting thing we saw there. We also visited the commemorative post and plaque of where Captain James Cook landed.
A couple of other Hobart excursions during our final days were to the Salamanca Street Market  The market was big but we didn’t find anything that we absolutely needed to bring home with us. The wisteria along the park entrance was so pretty and smelled so good I had to have Fergus take a picture of me there. I wish you could smell the flowers.
It smells so good.

It smells so good.

We visited some local wineries, Richmond another historic town, had great fish dinners being as we were near the sea and saw some nice countrysides and the tour of the Royal Theatre – the oldest active performing arts theatre in all of Australia. And to be on the stage of this historical was awesome. The tour guide said that at one point they were going to tear the theatre down and the people we able to get Lawrence Olivier and Vivian Leigh come and do a benefit performance to raise money to save the theatre. Obviously that was years ago but to know he troded these very boards was inspiring. This may be my only artistic connection to “Larry” as he is know in the business. This theatre also has its ghost, my theatre friends.
All and all it was a good visit to Tasmania. We wished be had planned to spend a day or two farther north on the island but you never know by just reading the travel guides. When we got back to Canberra we picked up the “kids” from the kennel and to my delight the vines on our backyard fence were in bloom – wisteria!!
A welcome home!!

A welcome home!!

 

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