CANBERRA, Australia—Canberra, Australia’s capital city, divides opinion; there are those who love it and those who hate it. This is a planned city, designed by Walter Burley Griffin, an American, and the similarities to America’s capital city are striking.
Canberra, Australian Capital Territory (ACT), is more modern than Washington, District of Columbia (DC), and has some splendid art deco buildings—my favourite architecture. It also has more post-art deco structures, some of which, frankly, look like they came from the notebook of Albert Speer. Wide boulevards and the fact that the site of the Australian Parliament is called Capital Hill complete the effect. (In Washington, it’s spelled Capitol Hill.)
Walter Burley Griffin is again very much in the public eye here. Fifty years have passed since they named a nearby body of water Lake Burley Griffin. But Burley was Griffin’s middle name, not part of a double-barrelled surname, thus the campaign to rename Lake Burley Griffin simply Lake Griffin.
I get the impression that not much happens here in Canberra. All the political action on Capital Hill is reported in the national press, and The Canberra Times conveys a picture of rural idyllic living. That said, I’m putting my cards on the table and stating that—from my very limited experience of the place—I like Canberra. Being accommodated by ACT Health in the five-star luxury of Hyatt Hotel Canberra helps. Steeped in history, this hotel has been, for decades, the haunt of Australian politicians, many who resided here.
|Fantastic art deco stairway in Hyatt Hotel Canberra.|
With its large, comfortable rooms, the hotel is a triumph of art deco style. My bathroom has French windows and is larger than many hotel rooms I have stayed in. The weather has been uncommonly cold—wet on my arrival—so I open the windows only to place my training shoes outside after returning from a run and to retrieve them before my next run, thus preventing the “what’s that smell?” smell my hotel rooms often get after a week or so. Running here is superb, and a loop, approximately four miles in length, goes from my hotel over two bridges that stand at either end of a section of the aforementioned Lake Burley Griffin. I was out at 6 a.m. this morning, and, along the south side of the lake, fitness classes were well underway with group and personal trainers.
ACT Nursing and Midwifery Research Centre Conference
I am here at the generous invitation of Australian Capital Region Health to give a keynote at the 3rd Biennial ACT Nursing and Midwifery Research Centre Conference. I gave that keynote yesterday and titled it “The path to publication.” On the previous day, I presented two workshops on social networking, including blogging, at the University of Canberra and Canberra Hospital.
This morning’s keynote address was presented by Christine Duffield, PhD, RN, who has an excellent track record in conducting nursing workforce research. Today’s address, probably the most authoritative lecture I have heard on the subject, ranged from the place of “assistants in nursing” (Duffield’s generic term for the unqualified, unlicensed “nursing” workforce) to advanced nurse practitioners. She provided a thorough look at nurse-patient ratios in Australia, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Ireland.
At dinner last night, we were entertained by speaker Matina Jewell. This outstandingly intelligent and articulate lady has an incredible story about her time in Lebanon as an unarmed United Nations treaty monitor, the horrific injuries she received in a military vehicle, and the death of all her comrades. Although she tells the story most nights, she is still moved to tears in retelling it. Her message is about recovering from hitting rock bottom with depression over the loss of her military career and survivor guilt over the loss of comrades she had been leading. She is on Twitter @matinajewell—as I write, I see she has just tweeted me a message—and she deserves more followers than she has.
I have done little climbing this year and, for the first year since a horrific accident that took place eight years ago, none outdoors. But my genes have been climbing. My oldest daughter, Hannah, recently spent a week in the Pre-Pyrenees in Spain, and her sister Emily has just returned from the Bavarian Alps. I seem to find little time to climb these days, and two trips each to Hong Kong and China, together with trips to Puerto Rico, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia before the first quarter of 2015, will probably further limit climbing. However, the spirit is willing even if the flesh is usually in an airport.
The extent to which my family travels is now becoming a standing joke. At dinner last weekend, my oldest daughter asked where I was flying to this week, and I responded “Dubai,” which was my first stop on the way to Australia. I asked her the same and she said, “Dubai!” We were in Dubai airport within 12 hours of each other.