Chapter 15: Capital Detour

Trip Start May 10, 2006
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Trip End Dec 17, 2006


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Wednesday, December 6, 2006

The general opinion of most Australians is that Canberra isn't worth visiting. But many of them have already been so it's more that they think it's not worth two visits. I figured I'd give myself an escape from Sydney for a few days. Josh was going to be in Melbourne for the week and I didn't have anything else going on.
Ali drove Josh and I to the airport Monday morning. Josh caught his flight and I went out to find where to catch the bus from. Airport personnel told me to catch it at the group bus stop. I waited there for a long time and saw the bus drive by on the outer road. D'oh! I called Greyhound and they said when I booked online I needed to specify an airport pickup (online actually only gives the option of Sydney (no specifics) but their timetable shows an 8:20am pickup at the airport). So I got stuck waiting another hour for the next bus. Luckily I spotted it at the city bus stop so raced over there to get on (damn airport personnel had me at the wrong bus stop). The guy in the seat next to me was taking up about 1/4 of my seat so I was kind of squished against the armrest. Towards the end of the ride we started talking about me trying to get a job and he was suggesting looking in other areas like Queensland or in the west since they're in more need of employees. I survived the 3.5 hour trip to Canberra and was picked up at the bus station by the hostel. I chose to stay at Victor Lodge since it's smaller (the other option was the YHA but those tend to be big and impersonal). The hostel is located on the south side of the city near Parliament. That first day I figured I'd walk around and get my bearings a bit. Canberra was designed by the same guy that did Washington D.C. so there's a lot of green space and open areas. Things turned out to be quite a big distance apart. First stop was a visit to the National Gallery. That was good with some nice paintings. On to Parliament but I didn't get to see it in session as it was the end of the day. Most of the museums and buildings in Canberra aren't very pretty to look at - concrete blocks. I walked past some of the embassies on my way to the city. Several of the embassies are cool in that the buildings are in the style of the country (e.g., US has a colonial building, China has temple roof, Thailand is like a temple, Canada is square and boring). It was a long, long walk to get across the lake to the city. My feet were hurtin'. I went looking around for food and felt about ready to pass out so stopped in a pub for grub. I took the bus back to the hostel. I had planned on resting a bit then going out in the city, but ended up in the tv room chatting to some (cute) German girls. (They put on a really bad movie.) After that I stayed up talking to my kiwi roommate. He was downloading a bunch of music on his laptop.
In the morning I had breakfast at the hostel and got myself a day bus pass. I wasn't about to try walking all around this time. First went out to the Australian War Museum. The lady at the hostel told me it takes about 3 hours to see it and I was thinking "sure it does". But the museum is really good with lots of information on Australia's involvement in WWI and WWII. There were lots of interesting displays and paraphanelia from the wars. I ended up there about 2.5 hours before succumbing to hunger and catching a bus to the city for lunch. Found some cheap Chinese food then bussed to the Mint. I thought it might be kind of interesting with the various coins, but it wasn't very exciting. Bussed back to the city and walked to the Australian Museum. Unfortunately, I was there right before closing so had 15 min to race through it. It has lots of memorabilia from Australian history. Bus back to the hostel for a little rest. Went out on the town that night and discovered Canberra doesn't have much of a nightlife (people sitting at outdoor cafe tables).
Breakfast again in the morning then bus to the city. Walked over to the Sound & Film Archive to check it out. There were many displays with clips from tv, movies and radio. Far too many to see them all. I watched some commercials and clips from Skippy (an old tv show with a guy that could understand kangaroo talk). Then it was time for me to get myself back to the bus station for the ride to Sydney. I could've spent another day in Canberra and had plenty to see [at the museums].
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