A little culture in Canberra

Trip Start Feb 26, 2010
Trip End Feb 26, 2011

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Where I stayed
Jugiong Showground (en route to Gundagai)

Flag of Australia  , New South Wales,
Friday, September 24, 2010

WE woke up and the deaf guy in the sleeping bag had clearly decided at some point to decamp to the mens toilets instead of on the lawn where he was at the mercy of the elements. There was ice on the windscreen – it was chilly.  We had a raft of jobs to do but took our time as we were charging up the lap top and camera batteries, and this needed time.  There is only so much time at McDonalds that you can stand, and only so many 50 cent soft serve cones that you can eat (cheapest thing on the menu – we can't believe the price doubles if you have an inch long Cadbury’s flake stuck in to it) using their free wifi and trying to find a plug socket so you can steal some of their electricity as well.  Anyway, we (Andrew Edit – I) did all our washing up, topped up our water bottle and I checked through all the draft blogs that we had not yet published.  By this time the sun was shining, the deaf man had finally braved the weather and was back on the grass and tranquillity had again been resumed.   I also have to mention that in the darkness last night on our few trips to the toilet we had both managed to traipse through a big pile of horse shit -  note to self:  must not buy cheap head torch batteries anymore or give up wearing flip flops.  Maybe the fact that we were camping on a 'showground’ should have given it away. (Erica has given up writing at this point).  Andrew continues...

Anyway we were indeed in between the horse race track and the side cart track, it’s amazing what you can see in the light. The Lady managed to straighten her hair in the van window and we headed off into Canberra the capital of Australia. This was obviously after recording a message for our darling niece, niece Ellie whose first birthday we were missing. It was perhaps the biggest regret of our trip missing Ellie’s first year growing up. From the baby we left she was started to grow into a toddler and we are always talking about how she is starting to talk and waddle across my sister Vics kitchen floor (we have seen her do this a few times courtesy of Skype). Anyway as a now featured travel blog we can’t talk about what we miss all the time. Happy 1st Birthday Niece Ellie and Vic the message about how Ellie waved back and you cried meant the world to us.

We headed straight for the Aussie Parliament Building, it had been an aim of Lady E’s to make sure we saw Canberra and Melbourne and after all the fuel expense it looked like her wishes were coming true again.... Who wears the trousers? I still maintain I do but the Lady gets to see what the Lady wants. And to be fair we know we can’t see all of Oz but with our regimented 3 hours dawn drive and 3 hours dusk drive we kind of know we are getting to spend the time where we want.

The Parliament building was fantastic and we really enjoyed a peaceful morning wandering between the chambers and looking down from the rooftop lawn at a truly wonderful view. Canberra is as we suspected, when we drove into the valley last night a beautiful place, lots of water, grass and parks. We both decided in an instant it’s an easy place to live. On that point however we have to say Canberra is now proud to have 50% of its citizens working in the private sector what a scary thing to be proud of? Yet still in a city so small with only 300,000 citizens and the capital being there perhaps not so surprising. We were told back in Sydney it was the logical place to choose as the capital as it would neither provoke Sydney or Melbourne – apparently the rivalry between the two cities is ferocious. The Parliament cost a fortune to build but is a very impressive building. If the truth be told though I was most impressed by the woman in the queue for security in front of us who got pulled up, when questioned if she had a knife in her bag she readily admitted "oh yes, you’re not going to take that off me though". They are still getting their stuff in order in the house though, they haven’t recognised they have a Woman Prime Minister and especially the fact it must be the first Welsh Woman Prime Minister anywhere in the world. The views from the rooftop lawn were stunning and we knew straight away why last night was so magical.

We then did a tour through the city and finally ended up at the National Museum of Australia, one of the reasons for coming here. We have constantly reminded ourselves that we have not seen any of the arguments regarding the Aboriginal rights to land or how the invasion of the Europians affected them. It was a huge museum and had a special section on the Canning Trading Route which was really interesting for us, seeing how Aboriginal people painted he landscapes almost as map in a very abstract way. We have heard a few arguments about money provided to Aboriginal communities being spent in the wrong way, with new trucks, houses etc. But all we can say on the matter is we do not really understand many of the issues surrounding the subject. Cleary the British Empire is something I as a UK citizen am not particularly proud of. The invasion of any country in modern day society is wrong, perhaps in the day times were different but at least the Aussies have recognition of the pain and suffering caused by us, whether the solutions currently undertaken are right or wrong we are quite frankly uneducated.

There were lots of other great galleries too but after about 3 and a half hours we were done in and both agreed to sack off the art museum. All were free though and if driving from Sydney to Melbourne we would recommend a stopover in Canberra. It was getting late so we headed for our evening drive. We stopped at a Mcdonalds to publish our blogs, upload photos and I just could not handle the amount of kids and general business. It’s clear McDonalds must be the biggest eatery in Oz, they just love it, but the size of some of the kids must worry future generations. It just isn’t a pretty sight being in those places for so long..... So says a clinically obese man anyway. It was so noisy we heady for the car park and blocked up the drive trying to ring Erica’s Mum and Vic to wish our families a happy birthday (it was Erica’s mums birthday too). It soon got dark but instead of stopping we followed the back side of lorries aware that our hire agreement banned us from driving at night to avoid hitting the Roo’s. After a few looks at campsites we finally settled for a town showground with an honesty box. I’m ashamed to say it but we were not honest. It’s against the Aussie principals but we only dropped our change in the box to preserve local amenities and keep the village beautiful, at least we gave something though.
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