A Capital Idea

So, here we are at Berida Manor in the small town of Bowral. It is located in the Southern Highlands of New South Wales. South of Sydney and north of Canberra (pronounced Canbra, with a short a). We are on our way back to Sydney from the capitol of Australia (the country and continent). We went there today to see the National Museum and the National Gallery and the National Portrait gallery. Quite a day. Today was the first day we were on our own on the road. Bernie was gone so we only had ourselves to blame!!

The national Gallery was my idea because of the aboriginal art that it housed. Ray wanted to go to the Museum. And we both agreed to check out the Portrait Gallery because of the picture in the parking garage.
The aboriginal art was fabulous. I did not see any signs that said taking pictures were prohibited…so here’s a few I snapped before I was busted.

Wonderful stuff. I feel a real connection to the people through their art.

We ate in the cafe at the Gallery and it was superb. There was a big event going on in the Gallery, Called The Big Draw, there were models posing for artists that were drawing what they saw. Then there were children all over the Museum drawing things on the paper-covered floor. And they had some musicians that played music that sounded like they were turning their instruments…very strange music. I think one fellow was playing a saw.

Here’s a picture of the aboriginal “tombstones”. Fabulous exhibit.

Canberra is located about 3 hours by car south west of Sydney. So, we booked a place on the way back from Canberra, about 10 miles too far because we ended up arriving at Bowral at dusk. Ray was driving. Our Tom-Tom got lost in Bowral. Let me preface my remarks by saying that Rayman and I split the driving. However, he got the worst of it because he just happened to catch the rain on his watch. It rained like crazy leaving Sydney. A sane person might have turned back…but we pressed ahead and traded driving responsibilities about the time it stopped raining. I completed the trip in mostly sunshine. So, by the time we reached Bowral, Ray was beside himself because as soon as we switched driving on the way back he got to drive in the rain again. While he was driving I was looking out at the fields and saw wild kangaroos in the meadows. OMG. This was very exciting indeed. Ray was not too excited as he was constantly trying to pass a big truck that was making driving conditions worst with the spray from the wheels…expletive deleteds were spewing forth…it wasn’t pretty…but my enthusiasm knew no bounds. Those roos made my day.

But I digress. We made it to Bowral at dusk and the Tom-Tom went daft on us. It dropped us by the train station by announcing that we had “reached our destination”. This was unfortunate because mr. J was not in the mood for being lost. He needed a drink. We made a U turn and ended up on a road with many store fronts. He went in to a pub to ask the way. We followed the instructions and got lost in a residential neighborhood. Things were going from bad to worse. I finally took the wheel. Lostness took it’s toll. We zipped into a Shell station. Ray went in to get more directions. “Take the second roundabout to the left. You can’t miss it”. Spoken by the man behind the counter. Well, we missed it and ended up in another residential neighborhood. OMG. So back to the Shell we drove. This time we both went in and Ray asked the guy to write down the name of the street we would end up on when emerging from the roundabout. It started with a K and had about 15 letters following it. Again, “you can’t miss it”, the attendant announced. I answered, “Well, we see you in a few”, so uncertain was I about our prospects of finding the “Manor”.

Well. We found it. So, we parked, went in to secure our room and OMG, this place reminded me of Faulty Towers. Or the place in Tenby, Wales. The wallpaper was gauche. There was a knights’ armor suit standing by the front door. A 3/4 filled fish tank to its’ left. Plastic flowers. Cherub heads. It was a hoot. We just giggled, it was so funny. Up to our room we flew. It would do…especially since we had prepaid. And Ray was so in need of a drink to relax that he said, “sure we’ll have dinner here”. And so we did.

The dining room was full of gray hairs from the big tour bus parked out in front. Fabulous Aussie Tours was emblazoned on the side of the bus. And it was parked right underneath our bedroom window. I’m quite sure the bus driver will be out there at 7 a.m. warming the thing up thereby waking us up.

But I digress. I needed my camera to snap pictures of this “Manor”. What a hoot. Only, I couldn’t find the camera. So, I went back out to the car. No camera. Up to the room. No camera. Ray went down to the car. No camera. We both went out to the car. Finally a camera was located lurking under the front seat…Why does this sort of thing happen to us? Oh, forget it. We can’t be the only ones…can we?

It was straight to the restaurant. Soup, salad, lamb shanks, a Turkish delight dessert. Everything was delicious, surprisingly. Too much wine, a martini minus the lemon peel and vermouth (just gin and lime peel) for Mr. J and the night started getting better.
Actually it is fun staying in a place like this. No pretense. Full of personality. The bed’s not bad, I can open the windows for fresh air, it’s quiet (all the gray hairs went to sleep already)…and we can’t play with the computer on the internet because they want $$ to use it and we don’t feel like paying…I’ll just post this when we return to Sydney tomorrow.


For more info on the indigenous art of Australia, click the link below…besides, their pictures are better than mine!



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