On 12th January 2017, we received wonderful news. Adam and Fasheena have brought another grandchild and their first child into the world. We had arranged to be in Canberra shortly after the birth. Arriving on the 31st January we settled into our hotel and then went to visit number 5 grandchild Francis (after my Dad and me) John (Fasheena’s father) with a third name Nakandemb referring to Fasheena’s passed relatives that Francis will not meet. Francis is a healthy 3 week old boy. Clearly adored by his parents. Fasheena is a confident relaxed mother taking motherhood in her stride. Adam is as excited as I can recall seeing him and like Fasheena seems to take to parenting with a natural instinct. So we have spent some time bonding with Francis and spent sometime looking around Canberra.
We stayed at Olim’s Mercure Hotel near the War Memorial in Ainsley Road. Whilst this is one of the earliest hotels in Canberra and is built in the style of a 1927 country hotel parts of it have been added to provide modern accommodation. Unfortunately we had not done enough research and we were given a standard room – standard for 1927 and the maintenance on the room had not been attended to regularly. To their credit our hosts recognised our complaints and waived breakfast charges.
We spent the first day with Fasheena and Francis until Adam got home from work. Fasheena had a friend Betty visiting as well. So after they had prepared dinner (we were bonding with Francis), Adam showed us Canberra at night from Mount Ainsley.
The next morning we caught the RED bus to see the sights of the city. We did not have enough time to visit the War Memorial (next time) but the Bus went down Anzac Ave past the memorial to the seven conflicts involving Australians at War. We then left the bus at the Lake Burley Griffin boat dock to take a trip around the lake on an electrically powered boat hand painted to depict I know not what. Some of the sights were Anzac Ave to the War Memorial, Australian National Museum, Telstra Tower at Black Mountain, Australian National Library, Old and new Parliament House, High Court, Blundell’s Cottage an early stone cottage formerley part of the original Duntroon Farm, the Carillion and Kingston shoreline from the Lake.
We disembarked at the same spot and from there went to the High Court. I did not know the court was sitting hearing an Appeal from the Court of appeal in Western Australia. It involved an interpretation of the Constitution and all Attorneys General from the States and Territory were there to intervene. Her Honour Justice Susan Kieffel QC was presiding with the full bench including Mr Justice Eidlmann the new man on the bench getting blooded. For me it was interesting particularly as I was not on the spot briefing Counsel. The Court is very impressive and free to visit. Security is not as tight as I expected. No metal scanners met you at the door. Instead we were met by a friendly member of staff who also volunteered to take some of the following photos.
From there we went to the Australian National Gallery but we were short on time as we wanted to have lunch and visit the Australian Mint. The Mint is not regularly on the RED bus itinerary. You have to ask the driver and provided it is 2.15 pm he then dashes to the Mint before returning the bus to the scheduled route. In the Mint there is an interesting video on the Australian-born artist Stuart Devlin of the reverse side of Australia’s coins and all of the other designs he has done in precious metals and stones.
After the video we caught up with the guide taking visitors around the history cabinets of Australia’s currency. From the First Fleet until minting of gold coins following the 1850’s gold rush currency proved difficult to keep in the colony until Governor Macquarie obtained 40,000 Spanish dollars from the UK government and punched out the middle of the coin to create our first N.S.W. currency. After the gold rush and the competition between various Mints federation saw the unification of minting coinage. The Royal Australian Mint produced other pennies and shillings until decimal currency. All current coins portray Her Majesty Elizabeth II, Queen of Australia, on the obverse, with the present effigy having been designed by Ian Rank-Broadley. This is matched with designs by the Australian-born artist Stuart Devlin on the reverse. They now comprise 50c, 20c, 10c and 5c coins – all still referred to as ‘silver’ though actually 75% copper and 25% nickel, and for many years there were also “bronze” 2c and 1c coins.
The tour then took us to the minting floors where collectable coins are produced and another floor where the standard currency is manufactured by robots with minimum human intervention.
I was so engrossed in everything that we almost missed the bus. Exiting the building we spotted the bus moving off in the car park. Fortunately the driver spotted us and waited for our late arrival. Unlike the previous day of clear skies and high temperatures this day was scattered cloud threatening rain. Our plans for an al fresco dinner at Kingston looked at risk particularly as we had brought clothes for summer evenings not wet and windy afternoon and night. So after the bus dropped us at Civic there was a spot of shopping at MYERS and we were set for dinner. Adam, Fasheena. Francis and Betty joined us on the lake at Kingston. Francis was perfectly comfortable and well mannered for a three week old. The next day was spent with Fasheena Betty and Francis before we caught the plane back to Brisbane but not before planning the next trip when Francis would visit us in our home and meet Tank the Cat who will join him in Canberra.