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Showing posts with the label Canberra

The Spy Racket (Tender Spies Book 5)

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BUY EBOOK About The Spy Racket Anything that can go wrong with Stephen Zammit’s missions usually does. This outing seems straightforward enough—ride herd on a notorious racketeer who has offered to help the agency close down crime networks that could support terrorists or foreign spies. If only the racketeer wasn’t the vicious, estranged father of Stephen’s partner Andrew. And if only they hadn’t been forced to abandon Stephen’s ex, Joanne, just when she needs them the most. The racketeer has an agenda of his own, and in no time at all the mission spins out of control, stranding Stephen and Andrew far outside their comfort zones. The mission is particularly difficult for Andrew, throwing him back into a world of casual violence that he thought he had escaped forever. Joanne manages to find some peace of mind, but is dragged back into the covert world when the agency itself comes under threat. Do Stephen, Andrew and Joanne have what it takes to survive and win through to what

Falling out of love with Canberra

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My love affair with Canberra lasted a long time, from our arrival in 1977 until this year. I've always loved the landscape best, especially the mountains behind Tuggeranong, enough to stop my breath every time I see them. The city itself, though, isn't ageing well. And you have to be rich to live there. It's the price-gouging capital of Australia, as well as the political capital. When I moved to Canberra I had strange ideas about the place. I worried that I would have to dress up to ride my bike down to the shops. Of course that was rubbish, but in some ways connecting to the culture of the place is as elusive as ever. Perhaps I just got tired of it and needed a change? Anyway, by 2015 the fractures became too great to ignore. I couldn't face another leapfrogging rates bill, or another local government election full of lies. Everything suddenly became too crowded and too expensive. And the ignorance of my fellow Australians reached towering heights. A woman sai

Spring in Canberra: Nara Peace Park

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Nara Peace Park is a Japanese-style garden set in the Lennox Gardens parkland behind the Hotel Hyatt on the shores of Lake Burley Griffin. Wonderful in autumn and in spring, lots of room to run around or picnic.

Spring in Canberra: author inspiration

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Cockington Green Gardens isn't just a great day out, it has inspired me as an author. In my book, The Spy Racket , my heroine, Joanne, in all kinds of trouble, needs to retreat to a quiet place away from the pressures of her extended family. A friend lends her his farm. Here's an excerpt: Lin dropped down a gear, and the car persevered upwards, skirting a massive clump of granite rocks, and then climbing upwards again. The cottage came into view, looking small and insignificant, with mighty trees rising up behind it in a wall of green. ‘Cottage’ to many people would mean a solid stone building, maybe with a tiled or thatched roof and stone floors, but certainly a comfortable refuge. Joanne had no such expectations. This building was exactly what she had expected. A better name for it would be ‘hut’ or ‘shack’. It looked old. It was built from rough-cut timber slabs, running vertically from the wooden plank floor to the rusty corrugated iron roof. An uneven timber veran

Spring in Canberra: The National Arboretum

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The National Arboretum is a fantastic project to grow plantations of trees on an area devastated by bushfires a decade ago. The trees are still young, but the overall effect is still spectacular. Added to that, Dairy Farmer Hill has what I think are the best views in Canberra. Warning, the government is serious about paying for parking here. There is a fantastic playground, the Pod Playground, the Canberra Discovery Garden that shows how to use water wisely, and the National Bonsai and Penjing Collection of Australia. Pod Playground. Photo from ABC Radio National Find out more about the playground architectural design here . Village Centre Nest III Sculpture on Dairy Farmers Hill Bonsai collection Waterwise garden View east from Dairy Farmers Hill Something endangered from North America, very attractive plant Himalayan Cedars

Spring in Canberra: National Gallery of Australia Sculpture Garden

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Of all Canberra's public gardens, this (and the National Botanic Gardens) are my favourites. At the NGA you can see Australian and international sculpture surrounded by Australian native gardens, fantastic. Wonderful any time of the year, best when it's not too cold and windy of course.

Spring in Canberra: Tulip Top Gardens

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Spring at last! Canberra people get pretty excited when spring arrives after the long dark days and the cold mornings. It doesn't last for long, but it's spectacular while it's here. Canberra has a spring flower festival, Floriade , held beside Lake Burley Griffin in the centre of the city. But that isn't all Canberra has to offer for garden lovers. My next few blogs will show you some of the other beautiful gardens Canberra has to offer. Tulip Top isn't in Canberra, it's a few kilometres northeast on the Federal Highway, and is only open during Floriade. Well worth a visit though.

Book review: The Apricot Colonel by Marion Halligan

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I loved this book, kindly recommended to me by  Kristin Milton . Marion Halligan is a great story teller, and this mystery, set in Canberra and Tilba, is a lot of fun. The heroine is Cassandra, a freelance editor who finds herself on the edge of a tangle of murders and with too many men seeking her attention. She is drawn to the most secretive of them, Al Marriott, and repelled by another, name unknown but who she thinks of as "Hotbaby" (named after his car vanity registration plate), while being unsure about the charming Irishman Dermot. There are many mysteries to be solved: who killed two women in Cassandra's own suburb and why? Who is the alluring woman hovering just out of sight? Who sabotaged the tyres on her mother's car? Who is "Hotbaby" and is he really stalking her? Why is Al Marriott known as the "Apricot Colonel"? And the biggie, will Cassandra find love and with whom? All of these are efficiently tied up at the end with a neat

Not an English bluebell!

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I was bailed up recently by someone who demanded to know why the Australian Capital Territory had a foreign flower for our floral emblem. We don't. Canberra's floral emblem is an Australian native, Wahlenbergia gloriosa. And it is glorious, a beautiful purple-blue. You won't see them around though, they live up in the mountains. This photo is from Mt Buffalo National Park in Victoria's high country. Photo: Nathan Hurst, 2005. Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Wahlenbergia_gloriosa_buffalo.jpg Around Canberra you see the poor cousin, Wahlenbergia communis,  (or sometimes Wahlenbergia stricta , I can't tell them apart), mostly growing on road verges. Still very pretty, and still not an English bluebell. Wahlenbergia species on road verge, Weetangera, ACT

Book review: Christmas in Canberra by Nicole Taylor

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A story about Louise, a twenty-something public servant, and her personal and family dramas leading up to Christmas 1988. Genre? A mixture of coming-of-age, pre-romance, contemporary fiction, women's fiction, labelled by some as chick lit which I wouldn't normally read. Lots of allusions to the Canberra of the time; notorious establishments such as the Private Bin and the Boot and Flogger, trips to the races or the Hall B&S (bachelors and spinsters) ball, lots of name dropping. Louise rents a flat underneath someone's house in Aranda and is left to water the garden while the landlord goes to Broulee on the coast—that rings true, as do the descriptions of swooping magpies, Duntroon graduates, the Canberra Yacht Club, the Canberra Cannons basketball team (sadly, now defunct), pub crawls, and backstabbing and machinations in the public service where Louise works. There is an excess of discussion about clothes and shoes—it was the eighties, a fashion-free zone as I reca

Book review: Always the Boss by Victoria Gordon

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A traditional romance from 1981 in terms of style, story and characters, that looks very old-fashioned from the perspective of 2013, and not just because it lacks the erotic thread found in modern romances. English secretary, Dinah Fisher, comes to Australia to work in a television newsroom in Canberra as a journalist, and becomes romantically involved with the overbearing boss, Conan Garth. The author does a great job of evoking both place and time. Canberra in the 1980s was a smaller and quieter place, languishing under the benign dictatorship of the National Capital Development Commission in the years before self-government. Dinah eats out at the restaurant on Red Hill, goes to a Christmas do at the National Press Club, and struggles with her role in the workplace pre- the Sex Discrimination Act 1984. Dinah's boss yells at everyone and is a pig and a bully. She resists but eventually succumbs to his charms, possibly the least appealing set of charms I have ever read abou

Book review: Crooked House by Peter Menadue

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Paul Ryder is a disillusioned journalist who is framed for the murder of a policy advisor in the context of a leadership challenge. Lots of intrigue, blackmail, drinking, and getting into trouble with his partner. A good yarn, nice plot that reveals secrets at a steady pace while maintaining the tension. Good evocation of Canberra's inner suburbs, the lake, and Parliament House. I really liked the scene where Paul is run off the road and running for his life in Commonwealth Park in the dark, while the arterial road nearby is utterly deserted because it's so late at night, easy to visualise how terrifying that would be. Good story, I'm going to read the other two books in the series. One complaint though. These quotes — "smug complacency and quiet desperation" in the suburbs, a "company town where the main business is government", and "in Canberra you get the awful feeling that life is happening elsewhere". If this is the character'

Book review: Dead Cat Bounce by Peter Cotton

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Dead Cat Bounce has a great tag line: "Two dead…three missing…just days before the federal election". Set in Canberra, this police procedural begins with finding a body in the mud near Attunga Point on Lake Burley Griffin. Detective Darren Glass of the Australian Federal Police and his love interest, journalist and 'Live Cam girl', Jean Acheson, investigate the murder of a federal minister in the middle of an election campaign. Great sense of place, especially the scenes at Lake George, but lots of action in inner Canberra suburbs is nicely evoked, with a solid local background. Definitely worth reading to the end to find out whodunit, or whydunit, although there were some very clear pointers earlier in the story. I'd like to read more stories featuring Detective Glass. Attunga Point is just west of the Canberra Yacht Club. There is mud there, but the pathway and other elements described sound more like East Basin to me, perhaps somewhere near the ACT Hos