This weekend is a long weekend in Melbourne (and Canberra) and we have flown up to Canberra to do some photography. This weekend sees two large photo worthy events overlap. One is the Enlighten Festival in which a number of government buildings by the lake are illuminated with special effects lighting. The other is a Hot Air Balloon Festival in which a fleet of balloons will be launched at dawn from the lawns of the old Parliament House. These events take care of our time in both the mornings and evenings for the next few days.
We arrived in Canberra around lunch time today, picked up a car and decided that the closest cafe that we knew was ‘Poppies’ at the Australian War Memorial so we drove there for a quick lunch. By sheer coincidence we were sitting at a table next to Brendan Nelson, the Director of the Memorial. He was involved in a staff meeting but when he was leaving, I managed to have a quick chat with him and thank him for the excellent work he is doing in managing the development of the Memorial. It s now one of the top three most visited tourist sites in Australia. Brendan was a previous Minister of Defence in a previous national government but I think he does a much better job in his current role.
After lunch, we drove over to the Mint where Australia’s coins are manufactured. They have recently released a special set of coins commemorating Mr Squiggle – four coins of $2 denomination and two $1 coins. Jill wanted to buy a set for old time’s sake.
Most Australians of our age will remember Mr Squiggle from their childhood. Mr. Squiggle was a character on a children’s show on the ABC. The show was presented on television in many formats between its inception in 1959 until 1999. At its height, the program was one of the most popular children’s programs in Australia and toured theatre and conventions, entertaining several generations who grew up with the program. It became one of the longest-running children’s programs on Australian television.
Mr. Squiggle, the central character was created by cartoonist and puppeteer Norman Hetherington.
More often than not, the picture would be drawn upside down (Norman Hetherington manipulated the puppet from above by viewing the drawing upside down), and then Mr. Squiggle would gleefully declare, “Upside down! Upside down!”—asking his assistant to turn the picture the right way up and reveal the completed drawing. Mr. Squiggle was helped by a human assistant in all of the show’s incarnations; they included Miss Gina, Miss Pat, and later, Miss Jane.
Jill was rather chuffed that one of the squiggles that she sent in as a child was used on the show. However, she can’t remember what Mr Squiggle made out of her squiggle.
The whole story of Mr Squiggle was that he visited his friends from his home at 93 Crater Crescent on the Moon, flying to Earth in his pet rocket (named Rocket). Mr. Squiggle was a cheery, scatter-brained character who was often distracted and occasionally went for “space-walks”, leading his assistant to calm him down and then get him back in focus on the task of drawing.
Just as we were leaving the Mint we had contact with a couple of old friends. One was my Platoon Commander from Vietnam, John Snare, and we arranged to visit him for coffee tomorrow morning. We also ran into John Alvey and his wife. John is another Vietnam Veteran from Melbourne who I know from seeing him at various veterans function over the year. Coincidentally, he is here for the same reason as us.
Tonight, Im going to have a shot at photographing the illuminated buildings and see how I go. I have another couple of nights to overcome any mistakes I might make.