How Green are the Valleys

Trip Start Unknown
Trip End Mar 08, 2013

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Flag of Australia  , New South Wales,
Friday, March 1, 2013

The hills and valleys of New South Wales are very green - like their counterparts in old South Wales I guess. We know why it's green in old South Wales – lots and lots of rain.  Well, guess what?  I think it’s the same here in the New bit!  We’ve certainly had a fairish amount since we arrived and today is an absolute classic – non- stop rain since yesterday afternoon and still going.  Did you know that Sydney averaged only slightly less rainfall than London in 2012?

 The countryside changed as we reached East Gippsland, SE Victoria, and got progressively more lush.  Dairy farming, cream and butter are the order of the day and each of the herds of Fresians had a little gaggle of Jerseys or Guernseys in amongst them for extra creaminess. We wandered up the Turquoise Coast where the sea really is turquoise.  There are river estuaries along the coast but the river water doesn’t appear to want to enter the sea and sand banks have formed, leaving a series of lakes along the coast – havens for birds, and mainly unspoilt.  A beautiful drive which, for us, compared favourably with the Great Ocean Road.  Though nowhere near so dramatic it was a damned sight easier to drive, you could stop frequently and the lakes made it so unusual.

We didn’t venture far inland until we turned left at Batemans Bay and headed up to Canberra.  The road was a bit of a surprise – very steep and windy.  We had forgotten about the Great Dividing Range hadn’t we?  We camped quite close to the city and drove in to see the sites.  It’s an unusual city being 'purpose built’.  In the late C19/ early C20 Melbourne was the largest city, Sydney was the oldest but the rivalry between Sydney and Melbourne  was so great neither would agree to the other becoming the Australian Capital.  So a compromise was reached and Melbourne became the temporary capital while a place was found to create a new capital somewhere between them.  Canberra was a small town near the NSW/Victoria border.  An international competition was held to select a design for the layout of the capital city and an American, Walter Burley Griffin, was chosen.  It’s an interesting design – the city is split either side of a lake- Lake Burley Griffin!  In the 1920’s they built a temporary Parliament building which was replaced by a very original design in 1988. The old building now houses a museum; other museums and galleries are close by, gathered together and built in the 80’s.  They’re good – we enjoyed the Queen’s Jubilee Gallery in the Portrait Gallery and a variety of Australian Art in the Gallery of Australia.  I bet they’re built of interesting stone but sadly it looks just like concrete.  Unless you are fitter than us there’s no way you can walk from the Parliament side of Canberra to the CBD and retail therapy, so we never got to the other side of the lake, except to stop at the War Memorial.  Here we saw the changing of the guard for the Unknown Soldier.  An interesting capital but rather soulless was our thought.

And now we are in Sydney.  We arrived last weekend for a family party, which was originally going to be a Barbie but the weather put a stop to that.  It was an excellent party anyway and Matilda is officially 3!  We put the van on Gumtree and had a reply within hours, which was rather a shock.  It appears we have sold it and will be homeless early next week – great news but…

So we will soon be home to the green valleys of Somerset and rather cooler temperatures than we’ve become accustomed to.  Miffy has very mixed feelings about this.
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