I arrived last night with the thermometer reading a wonderful one degree Celsius - a few degrees above the forecast - to be picked up at the airport by Dale. She's borrowed her housemate's car for the weekend, which is good because it means we have transport to allow us to do the tourist thing.
Speaking of the tourist thing, we rocked up to Parliament this morning and tagged along with one of the guided tours. Very interesting, but unfortunately I didn't get to see any of the famous stoushes in real-time. For one thing, it was a Saturday, and for another, after the marathon sitting from Thursday until 4am Friday morning, nobody was going to be back in the house for as long as they could manage it. There's no point going back next week either, because Parliament's in recess until August. But still, it was very much worth-while just to see the place and learn a little more about our country's democracy.
The second (and final, due to time constraints) destination for today's Dale-guided tour was the old Parliament House, which is now the National Portrait Gallery, amongst other things. The differences were very marked - the older edifice was clearly influenced much more by British traditions. As an example, the colours of the chambers in the old Parliament House are the grass-green of England for the House of Commons (our House of Representatives) and the royal red for the House of Lords (our Senate).
In Australia's new Parliament House, the traditions have been given more than a passing nod, but a uniquely Australian flavour has been given to the buildings. There's a much more open feel about them; there are fountains (although the one inside the courtyard has an ulterior purpose, being there to prevent whispered conversations between pollies from being overheard by the curious public), open gardens and courtyards, and the entire place just felt much fresher than the old one. Times change...
Our final action was to take a walk around the pond near the Aboriginal Tent Embassy. This is where I took one of my few photos for the trip, so I hope it turns out OK.