Sunday, August 19, 2012

WOA: Canberra

World Of Australia
Quest: Post those backlogged adventures DING!
New Location Discovered: CANBERRA

First off, because I am the type of person to admit to horribly stupid stuff that I have done, I didn't know Canberra was the capital of Australia until I decided to move here. Much like Ottawa, they picked a location between their two heavy hitters (Sydney and Melbourne) and turned it into a capital city.

It has a the reputation for being a bit dull, which has been echoed by both my lovely travel book In A Sunburnt Country by Bill Bryson (So funny, and bizarrely entitled On Australia here. I find non-translated but totally different book titles very interesting) and by the various people I have met. I figured that, much like Ottawa, it was awesome when you got to know it, but didn't make finding the cool stuff easy.

The drive there was AMAZING. Not only did I get to see The Big Merino (yes, that is a giant sheep. Yes, I hugged it. Yes, there are MANY MORE giant things in Australia. And yes, you should come visit me)

but the landscape in Australia continues to be breathtaking and driving along the Australian countryside in our little convertible in the shadows of the mountains, surrounded by unfamiliar trees and SUPER WEIRD birdcalls (I kept insisting the car was falling apart. He kept telling me that it was a bird.) is a glorious glorious thing. Also,

Highway Driving Quest

My ability to drive along Australia highways is totally getting better, especially since I am no longer frantically checking my lefthand mirror to figure out where in the lane I am. I forgot how much I enjoy country driving with the music blaring. Also, I have found all my old mix cds from highschool/undergrad, so the drives are particularly epic; Tenacious D is now stuck in my head.

We bummed around Canberra, played 500 (which is the Australian beloved card game equivalent to Eucher) until two am and FROZE. Dear lord, it gets down to freezing but they have no insulation and no centralized heating. WE WERE WEARING COATS INSIDE. I SLEPT IN SOCKS. I .. yes, I don't approve of this. Of course, back in Newcastle, I just went swimming at the beach in late Autumn, so my complaints sort of lose their weight, but still! I get cold when I sleep. /sulk

We also went to the Roller Derby game, because a)roller derby is AWESOME, b)they were playing our Newcastle team and one of our friends is on it (Her name is Beaver Destruction. As a Canadian, I try not to take offense. ;) ) and c) one of our 500 partners is sometimes a ref. Yes, the further I get from the Roller Derby Heartland of Texas, USA the more I see of it. Canberra's Vice City Rollers PULVERIZED our Dockyard Dames (seriously, I LOVE the names in Derby), and they should be very proud of how hard their blockers hit, but it was an awesome game none the less and the DJ was genuinely good.

We checked out the Tower thing, wandered the Museum of Australia (which told me things I did not know), I hung out in the Rainforest Gully of the Botanical Gardens (I was horribly allergic to Something/Everything in Canberra, but the Gully cleared my lungs right up. Also, Australian rainforest makes you think that you are about to get eaten by a dinosaur. The weird birds reinforce this), and we accidentally ate at Samy's Chinese BBQ, which it turns out is an institution. I have a knack for randomly picking iconic restaurants ( Chili in Washington D.C., Five Guys in an airport), for which I am extremely grateful.

So Canberra was grand, but I will tell you this now: it is not a walking city. There is way more road than anyone should ever need, and it tends to just spit you out in strange places, all the while you are surrounded by park which is surrounding suburbs and you are just trying to figure out where the city is. Plus, many of the pubs were closed at noon on a Sunday, which is just mean. So good times, but I prefer my beach.

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