Tag Archive: Canberra


Floriade 2018 (Canberra)


I have visited Sydney many times since my sister and her family migrated here but not once have I visited the Floriade in Canberra, the nation’s capital. The visits were always off-timed and I only contented myself with photos of beautiful spring blooms from the Commonwealth Park where it’s annually held. This 2018, it was staged from September 15 to October 14, a full month, and we managed to visit on the 2nd to the last day!

Just 2.5 hours south of Sydney, the Commonwealth Park in Canberra was truly a celebration of spring blooms. Carpeted in many colours of tulips and other blooms, the lake and the Ferris wheel simply added to the park’s charm. We hardly paid attention to the market stalls and playing bands, and just took in all the splendour of Nature’s floral cheer. There was a good crowd beating the deadline (like us) but we were early. Beating the traffic and the crowds, we enjoyed the Park before it drizzled early afternoon.

The place reminded me of Keukenhof Gardens in Dutchland. There must have been a million bulbs for this year’s Floriade. I felt it’d be a waste to end the flower show while the flowers are still in full bloom! But I’ve read in today’s papers that many folks have volunteered to cut the flowers and dig up the bulbs to distribute among the community. About a hundred bucketloads have found their way to hospitals and nursing homes to cheer up the old and sick. Such a happy ending to this flower exhibit, don’t you think?


It’s the kind of miniature park that will certainly amuse children who’d likely experience their first “trip around the world” here in Cockington Green Gardens. Interestingly, most of the visitors are adults who were all fascinated with the gardens and the fine details of the architecture and landscaping displayed here.

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The original section displays Old English architecture and heritage sites in England. Prominently displayed is the old Cockington Village after which this garden was named. Complete with a miniature train which whizzes past all these miniature cottages and mansions as well as popular sites in Great Britain, I was just a tad disappointed not to find a miniature Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, London Bridge or Tower of London. Yeah, that would have been nice. πŸ™‚

 

 

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Complementing the original section is an International Section featuring popular sites in many countries in Europe, South America, Asia and Middle East. It is tempting to draw up a bucket list of must-visit destinations here. Miniature parks allow us to see the “big picture”. Ironic, I know. But we do tend to miss many details when confronted with the actual site. Like, Masada in Israel is featured here in its entirety and full glory. Not the ruins I witnessed back in 1996 when I visited the Holy Land. Borobudur at 100% viewing may not offer the lovely details one appreciates while rounding up the temple, but you see it here in a different perspective and newfound appreciation.

 

 

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Such craftmanship displayed here! Patience and attention to details definitely abound in these creations. Plus the gardens are maintained truly well. Kid-safe too, methinks. Just as we were about to leave, we found a miniature Toragan representing our island nation. Toragan is a Maranao ancestral house where the village chief (called sultan or datu) resides. This architecture is distinctive because of the protruding butterfly-like beams in front of the house. Found in Southern Philippines where many Filipino-Muslims live, these stilted houses bear folk art paintings on its beams. Very, very ethnic. [ I just noticed the Philippine flag here is upside down, with the red above the blue, signifying war. What gives? ]

 

 

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Jackie Chan is one of my favorites. I remember my father shaking his head whenever he sees me watching Jackie’s old kung fu movies on TV whenever I’m home. Not that I’m a sucker for martial arts. I simply enjoy comedy action films. And Jackie Chan’s movies fit the bill alright.

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Not many know that Jackie’s parents lived in Australia. As did Jackie. His parents settled in Canberra where his father worked as Chef in the US Embassy. Before long, his parents became successful restaurateurs.

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In his own words, Australia has been good to his parents. Canberra was home for 46 years. And RUBY remains a landmark Chinese dining place in the country’s capital. No surprise, really. We thoroughly enjoyed our meal there the day we visited the capital.

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What really comes as a surprise is that the place never claimed its connection to the famous martial arts and comedy actor. No hints. No references, even. Not one dish bearing “Jackie Chan’s Favorite xxxxx” whatsoever. (Thanks, Rahns, for bringing us here!)


Midmorning and we’re on the road towards the capital. Canberra is the country’s capital and while this is my 3rd visit to Australia, it’s my first to Canberra. Like many, I am curious why Australia chose Canberra as its capital over either Sydney or Melbourne. Perhaps there is a grain of truth to the claim that Canberra is a good “compromise”? To be honest, I am biased in favor of Sydney but then again, that wouldn’t be fair to Melbourne. I visited the latter only once, and must confess the weather then prevented me from exploring and enjoying Melbourne more.

 

 

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It could have been one uneventful drive, but for one accidental detour more than hour after setting off. Goulburn’s Merino greets visitors who venture out of the freeway to drop in at what’s claimed to be the best bakery to be found in New South Wales. Well, at least the billboard on Sowerby Street said it was the best in 2008. No clues what happened in 2009 onwards. But the sizable crowd inside as well as the parked vehicles outside are obvious hints they run a good place here.

 

 

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And who’s Trapper? Owner’s name is Keith Tapper, and a painting of the man who started this successful business hangs on one of the walls. The popular bakery has the usual offering of breads, pies and sinful-looking rolls. I spotted an open fireplace off a corner where a group of “seniors” seem to be enjoying a skillet of bacon strips and eggs paired with some goodlooking breads. Outside by the porch is a pack of “wild hogs” aka matured men off their big bikes, some donned in their leather jacket and pants regalia. πŸ™‚

 

 

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If I didn’t have too much coffee at home, and knowing we’re just another hour’s drive from Canberra, I would have bought coffee to take away. Now, I couldn’t tell you guys if coffee’s good in this place. But hey, the aroma of freshly-baked bread and meat pies make it an ideal pitstop. Ideally located beside the giant Merino and a gasoline station, you may even wish to stretch those legs to view some goodlooking churches around the corner. As the now familiar OZ reminder on billboards say….. “Stop, Revive, Survive!” Now, back on the road. To Canberra!

 

 

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