If serenity and tranquillity are what you crave at Xmas, rather than the chaos of ringing cash registers and surging shopping crowds, you could do worse than hang around the Canberra city centre on the morning of Christmas Day itself.
We're in Australia's national capital to spend Xmas with my wife Narrelle's family, which includes a multitude of her nephews, nieces, brothers and her Mum, along with the various in-laws.
As we had time to kill before we met up with them on the 25th, we wandered the deserted streets of downtown Canberra City (formerly known as Civic) and took photos of architecture and street art.
Using images taken from Narrelle's iPhone, here's a quick tour:
1. The colonnade along the side of the Melbourne Building, whose facade has a vaguely Spanish Mission feel. This was one of the very first buildings erected in the new city in 1927, along with its mirror-image counterpart across the road, the Sydney Building.
On a wall inside the colonnade is interpretive signage which bears a pic of the building in 1927, then standing in open fields. Apparently people used to trap rabbits nearby at the time.
2. An old-fashioned mall called Petrie Plaza is nearby, and this is some of the art painted onto its concrete planters. Can you recognise any of these famous faces? (he said, feeling a bit clueless... though, er, I think that's Kylie Minogue on the lower right...)
3. Another fragment of the art. Note the clever juxtaposition of image and adjacent surface.
4. A merry-go-round (or carousel) in the middle of the Plaza; Narrelle tells me it's been there for ages, at least since she lived in Canberra in the 1980s.
5. This is a piece of street art entitled On the Staircase. According to the notation, the artist was reflecting on the notion: "The more I read, the smaller I feel". Interesting.
6. Fascinating pair of missile-like pieces of art further on. No signage to be seen, but it was fun trying to take photos of them without catching our own reflections.
7. Later in the day, we had Xmas dinner with the extended Harris family. The festivities concluded with the destruction of a piñata in the shape of Santa Claus. A little weird, but fun.
I love this photo of our niece Keziah - it looks like a publicity shot for a challenging new arthouse movie by a talented but edgy young director. Could be big at Cannes!
And with that, we come to the end of my 50th blog posting for 2010. I’m taking a short break, but will post again in mid-January 2011. See you then... and happy travels in the meantime!
This post was sponsored by HotelClub. Check out its site for deals on Canberra hotels, including hotels in the Canberra city centre.