Big Question Marks

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Canberra, Sydney... and Dookie

The big Aussie road trip is officially underway-- two days and 4 1/2 hours later than planned, we managed to get Daisy fully packed and ventured into the Melbourne rush-hour gridlock on Wednesday at 9:30am (doesn't anyone go to work at 9 these days?). It was a long and monotonous drive up the Hume highway to Canberra, broken up only taking photos with funny roadside signs-- pity the fool who lives in a town called Dookie!--by snacking on leftover pizza. We were more than happy to get to Canberra in the early evening, and did a couple of loops around the Parliament building's numerous roundabouts to celebrate. We even got an angry pointing-at from a French diplomat's car (not sure what that was about!) while hooning around the futuristic monstrosity that is the Aussie Capital Hill.

Canberra is a bit of an oddly designed place-- made of cube apartments and futuristic building designs. Everything was really clean and sparkly looking, and there were heaps of trees everywhere, and wide boulevards. We couldn't stop thinking about Sim City! The CBD is pretty unexciting, so we retreated to our first caravan park of the trip and had a surprisingly wonderful sleep... and woke up shocked we were no longer in our little riverside apartment in South Yarra.

On day 2 we headed straight for the Parliament building-- first the new Parliament building, which was finished in 1988. It's a space-agey place (with grassy lawns on the roof!), mixed with that Washington feel of long grassy 'malls' and symmetry, ringed by mountains which surround the city. We figure there must be some cool bomb shelter underneath the giant hill it's built on... well, you never know. On the way into the building, Dayle was caught by parliament security for accidentally carrying a boxcutter knife around in her purse (it was a long and sleepless move-out from the apartment!), and Adrian and the security guards laughed at her a lot. That's the trouble with large purses-- you never know what's lurking at the bottom!!

After that, we took a guided tour of the building, watched some government dudes hurl insults at each other ("Mr. Smith(?), your points are about as damaging as getting hit by wet lettuce..."). A very creative bunch they are here! We decided to book tickets to watch Question Time, since the House only sits 18 weeks of the year, and we'd get to see the PM Kevin Rudd up close, and see how much he actually resembles TinTin (he was depicted as TinTin in many a political cartoon prior to the election last year). The PM was kind of sassy in person, (which was cool) but unfortunately we didn't catch too many snappy comments (or lettuce-slapping) so we snuck out after a half hour and headed first to the Canadian embassy to snap photos by the totem pole-- the building itself is really unexciting compared to other consulates!-- and then onto the really cool National Museum of Australia for a bit more culture & history (everything's free admission in Canberra, which is awesome!). The it was a dash for Sydney in a thunderstorm, since we had a (budget) hotel booked...

Yesterday we met up with a couple of Dayle's parents' friends from Sydney (they've been exchanging Xmas cards for 30 years after meeting on a European bus trip!). The Isbisters were super sweet and took us for a wonderful driving tour around Manly & Sydney's northern suburbs... without them I don't know if we'd have even ventured out there! We saw many giant houses, huge boats, and ate a beachside lunch watching the surfers toughing it out in the rain.

Later we used our ferry daypasses to head way up into the Parramatta River, where it was mangrovey and didn't feel like Sydney at all. We made it back to the city in another thunderstorm, bought a giant umbrella, and headed out for the evening to the Rocks area (the oldest area in the city, with old warehouses converted into shops, restaurants and pubs) and found ourselves drinking giant Lowenbraus with a bunch of Germans before the long walk back to our Kings Cross hotel past many of Sydney's finest prostitutes (gee, sometimes you forget you haven't see one in ages!)...

Today it's off to Bondi, maybe a trip up the Sydney tower for some views, and then who knows! Tomorrow we'll head off to the Blue Mountains for some hiking and some natural scenery, just west of the city... it's shaping up to be a good trip already!

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