Discovering Canberra

Trip Start Dec 15, 2012
Trip End Jan 07, 2013

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Flag of Australia  , Australian Capital Territory,
Saturday, December 29, 2012

Woke up this morning to a lovely breakfast cooked by Andrew ( with a little help from Gretta )... it's Grettas' birthday.

After breakfast they drove us into Penrith to Europcar to pick up our prebooked car.. yes well even though I'd booked they didn't have a car available for us and the receptionist was a spinney flakey lady with little to no customer service skills! There was another couple there before us that were obviously having trouble getting their rental too, some problem with the rego on their car ( I think she ended up doing a dodgy with the rego number on their paperwork so the computer would release a car for them )  We waited about 1/2 hour for spinney chick to finally find them a manual car even though they wanted an automatic and then she drove us over to Thrifty who thankfully were somewhat more professional. Slight hiccup to the mornings plan and finally we were on our way to Canberra. The roads are all so good from Sydney to Canberra and all so well signed so it's a very easy pleasant drive.

We decided to stop in Berrima for lunch, it's kind of half way, first stop however was a quick trip to the pub for a refreshing beverage then a stroll down the street. Berrima is a nice little town, it has that quaint village atmosphere,.. until you realise there's a jail smack bang in the middle of the main street!! Although at first I didn't realise it was a jail- I marvelled at the beautiful building and high stone walls commenting to Rodd that it looked a bit like a jail ... or something. As we walked a bit further I saw the sign and yes.. hello.. it is a jail!! We looked in a few shops, most of them have tiny shopfronts and it's not until you enter them you see they are a lot larger than expected, real rabbit warrens, with so many lovely little nooks and crannies to explore. Certainly worth spending some time stopping and going through some of them. Lunch was at the General Store, I had a Lentil Burger and Rodd had a homemade Pepper Steak Pie, both of us enjoyed our meals. Berrima is definitely worth a making some time for.

Rested and refreshed after our stop we hit the road again heading for Canberra, well to be more precise Isabella Plains to stay with Frank and Debbie for 3 nights. Frank has lived in Canberra for ohhh I don't even know how long 10-15 years maybe and I've never been there to visit him, what a terrible sister I am! We arrived about 3pm, following Franks excellent directions. When we pulled up we knocked on the door but got no answer,  I said "yep I'm sure this is the right place" as I opened the door calling out "Frank... Debbie", still no answer so I took a few steps in looking at all the framed photos on the tables... not too sure I recognized anyone but still sure i had the right place I ventured a few more steps inside with Rodd saying " you can't just walk in" ... next thing I know a dog comes tearing up barking at me closely followed by Frank and Debbie... phew, glad it's the right house!! We spent the rest of the day chatting, drinking and catching up and then we had the most delicious array of curries, all cooked by Frank, no jars of store bought sauces here, this was made from scratch with all the herbs and spices. Absolutely divine.

We spent the next two days discovering Canberra. Frank drove us all over the place on the 30th. We went to Mt Ainslie which has the most fabulous view and somewhere we would never have gone if we'd been on our own. The Australian War Memorial, where we found the plaque of my great grandfather from WW2. This place is really well laid out and every Australian should go there, with such a fleeting visit we didn't spend as much time there as we could have. We saw "the Eagle on a Stick" which is the Australian-American Memorial at Russell Hill and is for the help given by the USA during the war in the pacific. My Grandfather was the consulting engineer on this project. Frank also took us to New and Old Parliment House and for a drive around all the Embassies, some of them are quite impressive. We did stop for lunch to recharge a bit but it was certainly a packed day! That night Frank and Debbie took us for a night drive and it was really lovely seeing Anzac Parade with all the lights, it's quite an impressive sight.

The 31st saw us take in Questacon.. that was a whole lot of fun but I think it would have been a whole lot better to go outside of school holidays, the place was crawling with kids and made it really hard to get close to a lot of the displays, it's such a hands on experience I think you really need to spend ages there and really get the chance to try everything. It's a lot of fun, unfortunately I forgot my camera so didn't take many photos here. After we left there we headed over towards the National Library and had lunch at the cafe there called Bookplate. We had driven our hire car in this morning so with directions from Debbie on how to get to the Casino we parted ways.... I pulled out the trusty phone and google maps, just in case, and we managed to get to the casino without any problem.. well except when we got there we couldn't see the Casino. We drove up and down the street a few times and then decided to park, made the mistake of going into the underground carpark of what we thought was the casino but was the Crown Plaza. The casino ended up being down the alleyway, very well camouflaged, but we found it. It's not a very big one, has a few tables and no poker machines, we had a look, one drink and left. Then we thought we'd drive back towards Isabella Plains, which is about 25 mins from downtown Canberra. The plan was to go to a pub that is a bit closer to Frank and Debbies for a quick drink and play on the pokies, we finally found the Vikings club and were having such good luck we ended up not getting back to Frank and Debbies til about 7.30pm.... being New Years Eve they had some friends over for a BBQ and I think we should have been back earlier as they were already there when we arrived and one of Debbies daughters and her husband had come over and left again so we missed them!! We had a great night and managed to stay up til midnight to see in the New Year...first time in ages for me, I'm usually in bed well before midnight even on NYE!!
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