I chanced my arm, so to speak, and walked up the ramp to one of the courts. The vastness of the building almost overwhelms you.
The attendants are all dressed in black and white in keeping with traditions of attire. You are not allowed to take anything in basically, other than yourself.
Fondest memory: Brave me. I ventured inside one of the court rooms. Five learned (I assume they were anyway) men sat in judgement. Behind them sat younger persons interested in the judiciary.
Facing them were about 7 barristers and their assistants.
The height of the ceiling borders on astronomic. I have no idea of its relevance but it's impressive.
You have to stay there for at least 10 minutes, or so you are told at the door. You also have to bow as you walk in. Should you fail to do either of these things I have no idea what the penalty might be.
Still, I did recall thinking how wonderful it was that we could see our law at work.
What was it like? For me, it bordered on stupifyingly boring but that might have had something to do with the barrister whose speech included liberal sprinklings of "um" and "ah" to the point where I felt like offering him a course in speech therapy.
Clearly, a career on the stage was not something he should ever aspire to.
However, his knowledge (and the judges) of the sections, sub-sections and further sub-sections of seemingly trivial points of law seemed endless. To myself, it seemed that the 15 minutes I was in there could have been condensed into about one. So much irrelevant talk and reference to previous cases, some of which the judges deemed irrelevant.
The High Court building is one of Australia's National Buildings.
The building was designed by the architectural firm of Edwards Madigan Torzillo and Briggs Pty Ltd, who were the winners of a national architectural competition held in 1972 and 1973.
It was completed in 1980 at a total cost of $46.5 million. It was officially opened by Queen Elizabeth II on 26 May 1980.
The forecourt and main entrance of the building are approached via a long, paved ceremonial ramp underneath which is a carpark, warehouse and machinery rooms. A so-called waterfall, more a series of fountains, designed by Robert Woodward and constructed of South Australian speckled granite, runs the full length of one side of the ramp.
The 40-metre tall building is essentially one of concrete and glass comprising a number of major functional elements, namely a large public hall, three courtrooms, an administrative wing, and Justices chambers. As you enter your eyes are guided upwards by the layout as the severe supporting pillars spread into the honeycombed ceiling that has an aura all its own.
Most of the external and internal walls created by the 18,400 cubic metres of concrete used in the construction have been subjected to a process known as "bush hammering", carried out with a percussion instrument, which has flaked the surface and exposed the aggregate within the concrete.
The glazed areas total some 4,000 square metres and these are mainly on the northern and southern faces of the building. The use of steel frame supports for the glazed areas has meant that generous expansion allowances have had to be provided to cope with Canberra's relatively wide temperature range. A system was devised so that the glass in the walls can "creep" up or down according to the temperature changes and any movement in the concrete structure.
This is a standout on the northern side of the lake, right next to one of the bridges. There's a walkway (here lit up on the left) that takes you out to the bells and a delightful, if small island behind it.
A gift from the British government on Canberra's 50th anniversary, the Carillion houses 53 bronze bells and is part of the scenic backdrop to Lake Burley Griffin.
Fondest memory: Opening Hours: Spring Weekdays 12.45 - 1.30 pm Weekends 2.45 - 3.30 pm Public Holidays 2.45 - 3.30 pm Summer Weekdays 12.45 - 1.30 pm Weekends 2.45 - 3.30 pm Public Holidays 2.45 - 3.30 pm Thursday Twilight 5.45 - 6.30 pm Autumn Weekdays 12.45 - 1.30 pm Weekends 2.45 - 3.30 pm Public Holidays 2.45 - 3.30 pm Winter Weekdays 12.45 - 1.30 pm Weekends 2.45 - 3.30 pm Public Holidays 2.45 - 3.30 pm
With its atmosphere of yesteryear, Gold Creek Village just north of Canberra off the Barton Highway is worth a visit. Offering many attractions, including the model village of Cockington Green (see further), the National Dinosaur Museum, the
Australian Reptile Centre and a traditional English pub, the Village offers a range of shopping experiences. In Federation Square, for example, you'll find speciality shops offering terracotta, linen, lace, lollies, local pottery, paintings, golf accessories, men's gifts and craft supplies. You can take time out from the shopping and relax in the coffee shops and a licensed restaurant with a country pub atmosphere. Ginninderra Country Crafts features hand painted porcelain, dolls, pottery and decorative clothing. Here you can see craftspeople at work - and purchase their wares. Among the rustic gardens you will find the oldest building in Gold Creek Village, St Frances Catholic Church, built in 1871. The schoolhouse and residence, built in 1883, take you back to days gone by. Other shops feature leather craft, country-style home wares and speciality gifts.
See for more info and pictures in the
Gold Creek travelogue please.
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