After a pretty slow start to the day and time spent on what we were going to get up to, we got under way about 11.30am. We had had breakfast sitting outside by the pool looking onto the golf course, which when you think about it, was perfectly satisfactory.
The plan was to drive down memory lane for both Fraser and Mark. First port of call was Canberra Boys Grammar where both of them went to school. Mark was there his entire school days whilst Fras joined up for his high school years.
The Grammar is a private school which was purely a boys only school but has now gone Co-Ed which has apparently pissed off the Canberra Girls Grammar immensely. The name of course has changed to Canberra Grammar School.
This year the Grammar is celebrating their 90th year. The school was founded in 1929 when the existing Monaro Grammar School was relocated to Canberra from Cooma. The foundation stone was laid on 4 December 1928 by Prime Minister of Australia Stanley Bruce. Initially it was attended by only 63 students, but has grown considerably since the early 1950s to a total attendance of 1,749 students as of June 2015.
Neither Fraser or Mark were very good at French and they were reciting the tale of being in Mr Coddly Oddly’s class and leaping out through the window as he was giving the lesson. Apparently, poor Mr Coddly Oddly had several severe medical conditions which limited his capacity to control a class room of teenage boys, who of course ran riot.
It was then off to Black Mountain to get an overall view of the city, more for Di’s sake as she isn’t that familiar with it.
Black Mountain is a small mountain with an elevation of 812 metres (2,664 ft) that is situated to the west of the Canberra central business district on the northern shore of Lake Burley Griffin. Black Mountain is protected from development by the Canberra Nature Park and is predominantly covered in native bushland and is a haven to native wildlife. We just love the way how Australians use the word mountain for any small rise in the surface of the ground.
Lake Burley Griffin is an artificial lake in the centre of Canberra. It was completed in 1963 after the Molonglo River—which ran between the city centre and Parliamentary Triangle—was dammed. It is named after Walter Burley Griffin, the American architect who won the competition to design the city of Canberra. You’d never get away with damming anything up now – the greenies would eat you alive!!!
It was then off for further forays in and around the city and to get a very well earned coffee. Mark and Olivia’s youngest son works for a very hip and trendy café in the city centre as a barista and manager. Aussies take their coffee super seriously and in this case there are no fluffy lattes or cupacinnos but real dinky di coffees served at 62c so when Di asked for an extra hot flat white, well that just didn’t happen.
Now that we were fed and watered it was back out onto the highways to check over the rest of the boys home town. It is probably good to mention here that Fraser was born in Canberra and spent his formative years to the age of 18 and then he hopped the train and headed west to Kalgoorlie in Western Australia. Of course we all know that what happened in Kal, stayed in Kal.
There has always been the funny story of years ago when we were visiting Canberra, Fraser’s mum was driving us around Canberra when she suddenly blurted out and pointed “That is the Northbourne flats where Fraser was conceived!” Fraser tried to shrink down as low as he could and Di got a very good chuckle. Alas, the Northbourne flats are no longer.
Final destination was Mount Ainslie for the quintessential photo of Canberra. In April 1911 the Australian Government held an international competition to produce a design for Canberra, its new capital city. Walter Burley Griffin design was selected as the winner from among 137 entries. Of his plan, he famously remarked:
I have planned a city that is not like any other in the world. I have planned it not in a way that I expected any government authorities in the world would accept. I have planned an ideal city – a city that meets my ideal of the city of the future.