Museum Discovery Centre

The Museums Discovery Centre is a collaboration between the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences, Australian Museum and Sydney Living Museums. It’s a storage centre for the treasures of the state collection and is located at 172 Showground Road, Castlehill, New South Wales.

I visited the Museum Centre last weekend with my husband. As it was Sunday, not many people were around, and the canteen was closed. The Museum operated with a skeleton staff. Outside, the sun was hot and weather humid, but inside it was cooling. Unlike other Museums which are in the heart of major cities, this centre is located about 33km from Sydney CBD by road. The surrounding looked green and welcoming. The exhibits are placed widely apart on three different levels and subdivided into six stores.

Store 1: This store displays the masterful creation of the world’s best designers. Chairs, vases, bowls, teapots, and silverware are some of the exhibits on display. Many items date back to the 19th century.

Store 2: Many innovative technologies that changed the lives of humanity are contained here. Telephones, clocks, radios, printing machines, engines, etc. to name a few. Change that occurred from the Industrial age to the present day is housed here.

Store 3: Variety of transport engines are parked here. It includes Cobb & Co -mail and passenger coach, wheat wagon, cars, bicycles, fire engine, an array of aircraft, cable tram, and a Yacht. Bikes are mounted high on the wall. Planes dangling from the ceiling look like huge toys.

Store 4:  This store is a home for a multitude of objects collected and used by Scientists both in the field and in the lab. A Sabre tooth tiger model on display is scary and provides an eerie atmosphere at the entrance to this store. It’s made from the skins of three African lions and a goat. Many items on display in this store are scientific specimens and instruments.

Store 5: Many domestic appliances and toys are exhibited here. Some of the cooking implements on display appear to be rustic and ancient.

Store 6: The structural model of a few buildings is on display here. Many architectural elements rescued from historic and beautiful buildings are housed here. A carved timber window cornice from Drummoyne House is on display. This massive cornice over 5 metres in length was part of a large stone mansion that belonged to a wealthy merchant and trader William Wright. The cornice had taken two years to complete, and the design based on the “foliage, flowers and fruit surrounding Drummoyne House.”

The tour gave me a glimpse of the Australian past.  I was impressed with the model display of a golden nugget,” Welcome Stranger,” that was found in Moliagul Victoria in 1869. Store 3 has many samples of doll dresses, hats, and a variety of shoes.

Museums showcase a Nation’s history, tradition, people, lifestyle, and culture. In his travel classics “Down Under “the author Bill Bryson reflects, “Personally, I think Australians ought to be extremely proud that from the most awkwardly unpropitious beginnings, in a remote and challenging place, they created a prosperous and dynamic society.

https://maas.museum/museums-discovery-centre/

General admission opening hours are on Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and the admission is free.

The Museum centre is closed on Monday and Tuesday.

Group tours to the Collection galleries are available from Wednesday to Friday. The admission fee is $ 10 per person, with a minimum of 8 people. Behind the scene, group tours are available from Wednesday to Friday for $ 20 per person.

Winery and Chocolate Factory in Western Australia

When we were on holiday in Perth, my husband’s cousin, who lives in Perth, took us to a Chocolate Factory and Winery.

Swan Valley is well known for its excellent wineries. We visited Sandalford Wines, which was established in 1840 and is said to have advanced viticultural practices and a splendid winemaking team. The Sandalford brand enjoys a reputation for quality, and visitors are welcomed for wine tastings, for meals in the elegant restaurant and a guided tour of the winery process.

We parked the car in the allocated spaces and sat under the shade of grape trees whose branches went above in a criss-cross fashion. As it was early morning, the weather was cold and the breeze chilling, but the environment divine and peaceful.

As we were talking about the beauty of the place, I heard someone saying, “Your blouse looks very pretty.”

I turned around, and a lady with a twinkle in her eyes remarked, “Did you buy your blouse at Target”?

I said, “Yes” and realized that she was wearing the same orange floral blouse that I was wearing. I was glad that nobody thought that it was the corporate uniform for the winery.

Beautiful roses at the entrance provide a spectacular view of the winery. We strolled around the garden and marched into the fertile vineyard. At a distance, it looked like armed soldiers neatly lined up in their green uniform ready for their morning drill.

Shortly afterward, we joined the guided tour within the building. A video showed a short history of the winery, process and the storage of wine in barrels and bottles and finally wine tasting. As we had planned to visit a chocolate factory, we didn’t dine at their restaurant, but the food looked like the “Master Chef” dishes.

Our next stopover at the Margaret River Chocolate Company was a mouth-watering experience. It was full of many blends and a variety of chocolates in different shapes and colours. All packed neatly and arranged in shelves to attract customers. Its unique combination of smooth, European-style chocolate is made from raw ingredient cacao beans. The chocolates that we tasted just melted in our mouth had a rich aromatic flavour.

Finally, we went to the nearby beach. The sky was bright and blue, and the water cool enough to wet our feet. Standing on the shore with white sand and waves under the feet was therapeutic. The vast ocean reminds us of how small we are when compared to its mighty power. We saw a person holding a kite right in the middle of the sea. Whatever he was standing on was wavering on the water, and he was struggling with the kite which was moving in every direction with the wind. It was an exciting sight to watch the battle between two forces, the waves and the wind. But the kite-holder was the master of the situation, trying everything in his power to control nature’s forces.

Visit to the University of Sydney

This week I went to see my Dentist at the University of Sydney campus. It’s not any University in Sydney, but one of the oldest educational Institution established in Australia. Founded in 1850, it is Australia’s first university with sandstone buildings. When a person refers to Sydney University, he or she means the iconic University located in the heart of Sydney. 

Prominent Prime Ministers like Gough Whitlam, John Howard, and Malcolm Turnbull, who studied at this prestigious University brought radical changes to the face of Australia and put Australia at the forefront of world map. People from all over have begun to show interest in Australia and are very keen to make Australia their home.  Other famous alumni include heart transplant surgeon Victor Chang, author, and broadcaster Clive James, lawyer Michael Kirby, and Australian Aboriginal activist Charles Perkins.

Many have excelled in their chosen field in Science, Engineering and Information technology. Business School has established a name in the financial markets. Graduate employment is ranked highly for the University of Sydney students. 

The quadrangle at the University of Sydney is a splendid sandstone building located within the University campus. A symbolic Jacaranda tree which stood magnificently at the southern end of the quadrangle, captured the hearts of the University Community for many years. The unique purple flowers that draped the tree in Spring provided a beautiful backdrop for the memorable graduation photographs.

The building, great hall, clock tower and the lawn in the middle are all hallmark of English architecture — the Sydney University design based upon those of Oxford and Cambridge in the United Kingdom. The whole University campus is lying in a large area, sandwiched between Parramatta Road and City Road and beyond. Newly erected modern buildings have added to grandeur and splendour to old buildings.

Tourists visit this campus and take selfies with the buildings and lawn as back-drop.

I have captured a few photos of the buildings at a recent visit to the University.

Yanchep National Park, Perth

Yanchep National Park is situated about 42 km North of Perth. Its main attractions are the Crystal cave, Koala sanctuary, Kangaroo colonies, and bush walk trails.

You can stroll through a raised wooden walkway to get a glimpse of koalas in their natural habitat. We witnessed sleepy koalas perched in very high trees. I waited patiently to get a view of a koala that ate or moved. Nothing seemed to move. As they are nocturnal animals, these cuddly creatures sleep during the day. Their sheer innocence capture visitors and they try to monitor every movement in their video or capture the photos of these animals.

Kangaroos are a common sight in the lawn. You can watch them nearby in their natural habitat. They are everywhere in the manicured lawn, not at all intimidated by the human presence in their precinct. I was able to capture a  snoozing kangaroo closeby.

You can buy tickets for Crystal Cave tour from McNess House Visitor Centre within the National Park. It’s a good idea to purchase tickets for the Crystal Cave first and look around for Kangaroos and Koalas. The guided cave tour is at hourly intervals. Henry White first entered the Crystal Cave in 1903. The entrance to the cave remains the same since then. As you walk down the steps to the underground, you walk on the same footsteps to experience the cave. The tour takes about 45 minutes, and the tour guides provide valuable information about the geology of the cave. Some places are quite dark, and you encounter lots of stairs and a few narrow passages along the way. The waxy looking growths inside the cave are the results of slowly dripping water. Mildly acidic water mainly from rainfall percolates down dissolving calcium carbonate as it passes through limestone. Water leaves behind a small deposit which gradually builds up over a long period to unusual cave decorations of different shapes and forms. Stalactites (icicle-like deposit hanging from the roof of the cave) and stalagmites (icicle-like deposit rising from the floor of the cave) adorn the cave.

Stalactites

Yanchep tree adventure offers courses whereby you learn to climb and zip-line through trees. It’s the best way to enjoy bush-land it seems. Bookings are essential for this adventure.

During our walk, we encountered the unexpected. All of a sudden, a cloud of flies swarmed over us, buzzing and blinding us with their presence. We somehow managed to escape from the ordeal by jumping into our car and headed to the city.

Sydney Metro Opened on 26 May 2019

The Sydney Metro is the brainchild of then Transport Minister (current Premier) Gladys Berejiklian and former NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell. There were no rail services to the burgeoning suburbs, Cherrybrook, Kellyville, Castle Hill, Norwest, and Rouse Hill. In the last ten years, Hills area has become a lucrative business hub attracting many private entrepreneurs. Many new homes were built around this area with a booming population, but the only thing that lacked was a railway line.

The long-awaited Sydney Metro train which opened for the public on Sunday 26 May, covers a 36 KM line from Tallawong to Chatswood. It’s a significant milestone for commuters, especially for those in the Hills area.

As much as the fauna and flora add beauty to nature, bridges, roads, and railway lines showcase the human potential and glorify the surroundings. The infrastructures benefit communities, and give a sense of belonging, that the public is the joint owners of the public property. Yesterday, this milestone was celebrated in high spirit. In the first six hours after the gates opened, 90,000 people rode on the new Sydney Metro Line.

It’s a hi-tech fully automated system. The heart of the entire Metro System is the Operational Control Centre in Tallawong. One room is filled with powerful computers which monitor the movement of trains along the railway, the location, and direction of each train. These trains are some of the most advanced on the planet.

Some commuters have reservation about the driverless trains. One spokesperson said that people have to imagine that they are travelling in a horizontal lift. My husband and I, travelled on this historic day 26 May 2019, from one end to the other end of the entire 36KM line. The train was packed to its maximum and a few platforms were a sea of colours.

There was an unexpected delay on one train when a door failed to align properly, which was immediately removed from service. Overall, it’s a great achievement which will benefit present and future generations. Many years ago, when my daughter attended the University, she had to catch 2 buses and a train to reach her destination, which took about one and a half hours. The Metro train would take only 15 minutes to cover the same distance.

People queue outside

Awaiting the train

Car park and commuters queue

Steps to the platform

Inside view of the station

Top view of the station

Train Underground

Train Above ground

Christmas Island

The very first time I heard the name Christmas Island many years ago, my imagination painted a beautiful picture of a colourful, vibrant place with the Christmas spirit. Later I read that Captain William Mynors of the Royal Mary vessel, named the island when he sailed past it on Christmas Day, in 1643

This Island was a detention centre for refugees and asylum seekers from 2001 until 2018 when the centre was closed. The detention centre was found to be inadequate in terms of size, amenity, and security. Several protests staged by the inmates of the detention centre demanding adequate facilities didn’t impress the relevant authority.

Recently I came across an article in a local paper which caught my attention as the writer described Christmas Island as a “Crab Island”. Its geographic isolation and history of minimal human disturbance has led to a growth of dense forests and has become a habitat for several small creatures.  A variety of crab population exists in this island, the red crab, in particular, draws a lot of attention from the public. These crabs are purely land-based crabs. The red crab in Christmas Island is noted for its visual and impressive migration once a year. The red crabs spread over the land area in a spectacular fashion. Imagine around 50 Million red crabs migrating from the dense forests to the sea through the land during the breeding season and then returning to the forest in reverse migration after finishing their business.

The current red crab population in millions outnumber the human population of a few thousand in the island. The crab population is declining in recent years with an influx of yellow ants. An exploding population of the yellow crazy ant, accidentally introduced to Christmas Island and Australia from Africa is causing the ecological damage. These ants raid crab burrows in the forest in large numbers and kill them.

Red Crab Migration Video

My vegetable garden and the uninvited guest

I wonder whether you ever tried to grow a vegetable garden in your backyard. If you haven’t, I like to share my story with you. It was a decision we made last year, and after much deliberation decided to grow tomatoes and eggplants for a start. When we visited the local garden centre for advice, the staff provided us with the necessary information, the choice of seedlings, soil, manure, vegetation, etc. We bought a few seedlings for our pilot project.

Most of our backyard is cemented, except for a few yards along the fence which was overgrown with weeds. My husband cleared the bush and prepared the soil for tomato and eggplant seedlings. It took him a few days for the clean-up and afterward, with the help of his friend, laid a water pipeline along the fence for the vegetable garden.

Our backyard fence is in an elevated position about two feet above the ground level. The tomato and eggplant seedlings were planted at the appropriate distance apart with plenty of sunlight. Watering at regular intervals, with the automated pipeline system made all the difference to the smooth and steady growth of the seedlings. The eggplants flowered, drooped and fell to the ground without any fruits. After a few weeks, we saw the fruiting of flowers in the tomato plants. As the tomatoes grew bigger, my early morning routine was to count the tomatoes. My headcount was eight on a particular day, and I was delighted with a big lush red tomato which was ripe and ready to eat.

I told my girls that I would harvest the tomatoes the next day. Temptation running high, I looked at the red lush tomato that night to make sure it was there. Next day, I woke up very early in the morning with the excitement of harvesting tomatoes from my own garden. I reached for the big ripe tomato, but alas it wasn’t there. My husband and children said they hadn’t been near the plant. Walking across the garden I noticed a half-eaten red tomato and few green tomatoes on the ground. I knew at once who the culprit was. A friend, in the neighbourhood, had a complaint before that possums ate all her rose petals and vegetables in the garden.

I was disappointed and said that I had to find a way to deal with the possum in the garden.

“Mum, you can’t get rid of the possum”, said my daughter. “Besides, a possum will not be able to go to the market to buy tomatoes. Let him enjoy the fruit and leave him alone”.

After an hour I plucked the remaining tomatoes and put them in a prominent spot for the possum to eat if he decided to return the next day. The possum never returned to taste the tomatoes I laid on the ground. Perhaps, he thought the tomatoes were poisoned. A week later, a heavy downpour washed off everything.

Soon after one night as we returned home by car, something dashed across our car towards a tree. I looked at my daughter and said that I have never seen a big rat in my life. She said that it was not a rat, but a possum. Two big eyes sparkled right into the headlight and the agile possum climbed the tree in a flash. It was complete darkness and my visibility was limited to the car headlight, but the possum being nocturnal animal scaled the entire horizon ahead.

Some Facts about Possums:

Possum is one of the iconic faunas in Australia. It is illegal to relocate or kill a possum. Possums are territorial and it’s not easy to relocate them. Even if they are relocated, new possums will move into the vacant territory. The old possum may return to its original territory or may die in a new territory.