Cotter and Canberra
Dec 14, 2013
We're just finishing off a stint in Australia's capital city. It's an interesting place in lots of ways. Here are a few things we've learnt about it and the ACT:
It is the only state capital away from a coastline.
It is a teeny tiny state formed after federation and its existence made necessary by the feud between Sydney and Melbourne for capital status.
The Walter Burley Griffin competition-winning plan for the city is based on long, broad avenues with vistas in the city, surrounded by residential and commercial nodes in the burbs all connected by a series of ring roads.
There's a largish man-made lake in the centre (largish lake, not man...).
It is public service central with most of the population employed as civil servants.
Cycling is BIG here (don't try to get anywhere on a Sunday morning).
Despite being not highly rated as a city overall by outsiders, many residents think it's actually fantastic!
Hottest part of the day is mid to late afternoon.
There are lots and lots of galleries, museums and centres, most of which are absolutely free to enter.
We have set up about 20km out of town at Cotter Creek campground. It's been relaxing to drive through the countryside on our way in and out of the city each day. About 100m down from our campsite, Cotter creek joins the mighty Murrumbidgee River. This is exciting for me. Perhaps having had to memorise stuff about the river and its path in year 3/4 social studies has left me with an up-til-now yearning to see it for real?! I wonder what other social studies aspirations lay latent within me... Maybe some Blaxland, Wentworth & Lawson memorials... Anyway, this is a nice spot to ponder these and other things. The site sits on top of a small hillside from which we can sit and drink our cuppas whilst watching the kids swim in the creek and boogie board down the grassy slope. There's quite a sense of tranquility and restfulness that we'd be hard-pressed to find in a city caravan park. And there's hot showers and flushing toilets :) All this for $24 a night next door to the nation's capital. Bargain.
We are feeling refreshed and rested after 7 days here in which we've had heaps of time to hang out with some rellies and travelling buddies, deviate from our travel menu (hooray!) and do a few touristy things. Ben's cousin Bec (actually his mother's cousin's daughter) and her husband Ken and their three kids live in Canberra. We haven't seen each other for a few years and have really had fun catching up. On most days here we've met up at their place or Cotter. The kids are of the same ages and easily paired up for all-round, general, run-of-the-mill hanging out - boy did our three need it! Amongst other things, Alice and Em played with a zillion stuffed toys, Will and Callum played cricket, and Pip and Jacob swam, made sketches and read. We grown-ups chatted heaps, drank tea and did washing! We were feeling all holidayed out before arriving in Canberra but it was just what we needed.
Another great part of our stay has been camping next to our travelling buddies, the Clancys. They are such easy company and we were so happy to see them since the last time in Esperance, WA. Their kids are feeling a bit spun out at this stage of their trip just like ours so we both had pretty low expectations of 'normal' behaviour! Sadly, towards the end of the week Ava broke her arm (surfing down the grass with Alice...). It turned out to be a nasty break needing wires, metal plate and further surgeries. Alice was really upset and worried about her while she was in hospital so was comforted immensely when she returned in one (mended) piece. Ava is a girl with amazing strength and positivity and even in the midst of her pain and discomfort, she has continued to be kind and thoughtful towards our kids and her little brothers. And she's only 8 - way to go!
Our tourist experiences of Canberra were probably fewer in number than many, but we just didn't have the get-up-and-go to do too much. We went to Questacon (the massive and entertaining science centre), drove past(!) Parliament House, had a brief look around the War Memorial and paddle-boated about on Lake Burley Griffin. Apart from that we found a great second-hand bookshop. So, Canberra done - to our standards. And this means that we can return again in the future and still have lots to do.