Now, where was I? Oh, of course, I was telling you about my part in the Human Brochure in our national capital. As I mentioned previously, we had enjoyed a family trip to Canberra some years ago. The Husband and I, being a little hazy on timings, both thought it was about five years ago and we had all – kids included – had a great time. However, it seems that the sands of time are slipping away much faster than I realised. We last visited in the summer after the devastating Canberra bushfires which, it turns out, were back in 2003 – meaning that it has been nine years since that family holiday.
Some days I’m really not sure what I’ve done in those nine years, but I’m here to tell you the folks in Canberra have been very busy. Our first port of call on the fine, but unfortunately overcast, second day of our trip was to be the National Arboretum Canberra, a site that didn’t actually exist when we were last here but which came about, in part, as a result of the rebuilding program after those dreadful fires. The arboretum was actually part of Walter Burley Griffin’s original broad vision for the city of Canberra. He planned a continental arboretum which would showcase iconic trees from all over the world. It has probably taken a little longer than Walter and Marion had planned, but today Canberra boasts a 250 hectare site which has been planted with 100 forests of rare, endangered and symbolic trees from Australia and around the world. The development includes gardens, outdoor sculptures, an extensive bonsai collection and a stunning hilltop visitors centre and, while still young, is well on the way to becoming one of the great arboreta of the world.
From the National Arboretum we boarded our bus again and were driven off to lunch – a very happy state of affairs for a bunch of foodies. A short drive out of the city found us in the Canberra Wine Region at The Poachers Pantry, a small family-run smokehouse farmshop, cellar door and cafe nestled in the countryside. Since 1991, Susan and Robert Bruce have been producing a range of smoked meats, poultry game and vegetables, incorporating their Wily Trout Vineyard in 1998. We were greeted with bubbles and appetisers, before being led into their charming cafe (although I do think the term “cafe” undersells their splendid menu just a little) where we commenced to feast on a luncheon that was simply wonderful.
While we were turning our attention to the singularly important matter of lunch, we were also given a friendly introduction to the region’s growing reputation as a wine growing area and enjoyed several of the local offerings, including the delicious Clonakilla Shiraz and the Poachers Pantry’s own Wily Trout Shiraz.
The earlier buzz and chatter of our particular branch of the Human Brochure took on something of a postprandial torpor and, in the struggle to make it back on to the bus, many of us had to stop for just a wee lie down on the lawn in order to garner the strength for the 100 metre stroll to the car park. It was a quiet ride back to our hotel for a very necessary siesta – for the day’s feeding was not over with yet!