Wellington Botanic Garden and the City to Sea bridge

The Wellington Botanic Garden and the City to Sea pedestrian bridge are two nearly free places to visit in Wellington. Actually, if you don’t care to walk up a very steep hill, then the best way to reach the Wellington Botanic Garden from the central business district is by cable car. It will cost you $5 one way, but hey, the view at the top of the hill is spectacular (well worth $5), and the hill is Really Steep.

Wellington Harbor from the terminus of the cable car

The walk down the hill on which the Botanic Garden is perched is steep, tranquil and very green. There are many sections to the garden, including a fern garden, a succulent garden, a rose garden, and sections devoted to native plants. And if you follow the Orange Path through the garden, you will go through the Old Burial Ground, which has some very interesting monuments, including a naked guy right at the top of the hill.

Harry was the leader of the New Zealand Labor party, and a businessman and the owner of a newspaper. Which explains nothing at all about this nude guy.

The original purpose of the garden when it was started in 1868 was to serve as a trial garden to test out imported plants to see whether they could be grown as crops in New Zealand. Thus the garden began with plantings of conifers.

I wish I could tell you the botanical or even common names of the plants above, but there are no labels or identifying signs.

The photo above is of the Peace Garden, with an eternal flame in the pagoda shaped ornament in the middle of the pond.

The City to Sea Bridge, seen across the Whairepo Lagoon, looks from some angles like a patched together bunch of old weathered wood. It is a sculpture acting as a platform for other sculptures and artworks, in addition to reconnecting people to their harbor.

Windy Wellington

Wellington is one of the windiest places in New Zealand, due to its location on the Cook Strait that runs between the North and South islands of New Zealand. Wellington is at the southern tip of the North Island.

We arrived in Wellington at about 3PM and it took some time to clear customs and immigration. We reached our hotel by bus, riding along the bay. One hint of the windiness could be found in the three wind sculptures we passed on our way in to the central business district (CBD).

Tomorrow we will begin to get acquainted with New Zealand in much more detail.

Canberra, Capital of Australia

Today, Ron took me to Canberra, about an hour south of Goulburn, and showed me many of the important sights. Canberra is a city of about 410,000 people, located inland in a special non-state area called the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), similar to the way the District of Columbia where the US capital, Washington, is not a state. The site of Canberra was selected in 1908 as a compromise between Sydney and Melbourne. In 1911 there was an international competition for a design for the capital. William Burley Griffin, an American architect and landscape architect, with the substantial, and at the time, uncredited assistance of his wife Marion Mahoney Griffin, won the competition with a landscape design based on the garden city movement. The Griffins moved to Australia in 1912 where he was appointed Federal Capital Director of Design and Construction. Construction began in 1913 and proceeded slowly because of bureaucratic hinderances. Griffin’s position was abolished in 1920. Focused effort on development began in the 1950s. Central Canberra has a Federal Triangle, with the apex being the Parliament building, the sides a pair of bridges over the artificial Lake Burley Griffin, and the War Memorial at the base.

The veiw of the Federal Triangle from Mount Ainslie

We visited the Parliament Building, a very large complex containing the chambers for the House of Delegates, the Senate, the committee rooms, a great hall for concerts and dinners, offices, and more. There’s a central hall with portraits of all the Prime Ministers, art work, a replica of the Magna Carta, and explanatory signage. There is also a gift shop, which I had to leave quickly so as to not buy stuff.

Australia’s Parliament House
The Senate Chamber

Looking across the Federal Triangle from the Parliament building, you see the Old Parliament building which was a temporary space for the Federal government while the Parliament House was being constructed. Then in the distance you can see the Australian War Memorial. We stopped outside the Old Parliament building for a photo, and then went on to the Australian War Memorial.

The Old Parliament Building

The War Memorial is at the end of a boulevard called the Anzac Parade, which is lined with memorials for specific conflicts and wars (for example, Korea, Vietnam, the Boer War) and memorials celebrating groups such as military nurses. We stopped briefly at the Australian War Memorial and walked into the central memorial courtyard, into the Hall of Memory, and along the gallery of names of the fallen, which have been decorated by poppy flowers. We also witnessed the changing of the guard.

The War Memorial courtyard
Poppies on the Wall of Names

We drove through several suburban communities and passed the National Museum, with a dramatic sculpture alongside Lake Burley Griffin. Then we went to Costco. Because you never really know about a country until you have visited their Costco.  

Sculpture at the National Museum