October 05, 2009

Canberra 2: Colour and Calliope

After sitting through several hours of mind-numbing PowerPointing (it's a really bad sign when the first slide announces it is 1/143), I staggered out into the watery Canberra sunlight and decided to restore my spirits with a visit to Floriade, the renowned annual flower show.
The organisers had sprinkled helpful signs around the city, showing the direction to go, but it wasn't until I'd walked for half an hour and ended up with no way of crossing a 4 lane highway that I realised the signs were for motorists and not pedestrians. Grumbling mightily, I clambered over a crash barrier into the car park and finally found my way over the pedestrian bridge, arriving about 10 minutes before the show closed for the evening.
Not that it really mattered, because I was surprised to find nothing more than a few large beds of tulips and assorted flowers, arranged in admittedly pleasing patterns, but hardly the floral extravaganza I'd expected.

It was certainly very pretty in the late afternoon light, but I found it rather disappointing. I guess I am spoiled, because not far from my home in Western Australia is the extraordinary Araluen Botanical Park, where volunteers plant millions of tulips each year, creating immense drifts that extend for hundreds of metres in every direction, between the native eucalypts. Click here to see photographs taken by Flickr users.

In fact, the best thing I saw at Floriade was a beautifully restored calliope:

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