Travel Journal: A Weekend in Canberra.

Weekend in Canberra

The drive south from Sydney to Canberra was pretty uneventful. We had just done this drive two weeks earlier and as luck would have it, in the same nasty weather.

We listened to some tunes but were both reflective in our thoughts, confused about [our property manager’s plan was].
Approaching Lake George just outside of Canberra is always interesting to me. The lake itself is shallow and wide. Some days there’s water in it, most there is not. Today there was and it sparkled intermittently as the sun peeked out amid the cloudy skies. On the horizon were wind turbines, dotting the hills. Today, there was a thunderstorm in the distance. You could see rain showers travelling across the sky, while there was sunshine off to the right.

I love the broad skies like that.

It’s one of things I was looking forward to on this trip. Being able to see vast skies. Clear skies too if the rain would ever clear. Oh, and The Milky Way. I missed the vast skies in Australia where you felt the Milky Way was just right there, right at your fingertips. It was like that where I grew up, [in the Hunter Valley.]

We continued on past Lake George, over the hills, around the corner and down into the Australian Capital Territory. We were ready to be out of the car. Ready to check out first night accommodation. Our first night on our massive road trip.

And we were excited to see our daughter.

In Canberra, we found our AirBnb easily. I was worried that it was going to be too noisy, being only a block off the main thoroughfare, but it was tucked in, on a gorgeous tree-lined street. We grabbed only a few things, found the key and made our way inside. Having a quick look around, it had everything we needed. At $70/night, it was a bargain. Thank you Airbnb.

We love AirBnb. We’ve found them to be cheaper than hotels and certainly more spacious. This one was a one bedroom with a galley kitchen, it’s own laundry and enough space to hang out with Nat, when she found time between studies.

After unloading a few more things, I went over to the University, leaving Rich to unpack us and start some laundry. That was one of the disadvantages of packing up a house and donating your washing machine a week before!

I texted Natalie and let her know I was on the way as I had some things for her. She met me in the parking lot.

It was good to see her. I didn’t realise how much I had missed her until that moment. I had the impression that the feeling was mutual. The hug returned was just as intense.

We carried the washing basket I had brought her, filled with all sorts of goodies from the Treehouse. It was so full and so heavy, it took two of us to lift the basket. Included was a massive bag of rice that would keep her going for a few weeks at least. It also included her favourite quilt from home, which only weeks before she had wanted to donate. I guess living away from home changes all that. And she was also receiving all of the spices that I wouldn’t need and thought she may use. There was more…

As she unpacked it in her dorm room, we savoured the moment. She told me some short, funny stories of her days so far. I told her why I had added this or that into the basket. She was appreciative of the items, which was nice to see.

After an hour or so, we headed back to the AirBnb where she caught up with Rich as well. It was nice to just be for a while but eventually hunger took over, so we headed out to get some dinner. We were in walking of Civic, the main hub of Canberra, and one of Natalie’s new Uni friends was waitressing at a nearby restaurant, Zeus Greek, so we headed there.

It was packed. Granted, by then it 7pm on a Friday night, so it was to be expected. We decided to skip it altogether and found a burger joint close by. Natalie’s choice. Apparently it had been awhile since she’d had meat and as an on/off vegetarian, she was craving a burger. It was okay. Not the best I’ve ever had, but it satisfied a craving.

By the time we got back to the AirBnb, Rich and I were barely able to keep our eyes open. I felt bad but I had to kick the girl home. I had been looking forward to spending time with her, but I just couldn’t stay awake long enough to enjoy it.

We were exhausted. Beyond exhausted.

I drove her home, through the dark quiet streets of Canberra, back to her secure dorm and headed back to what I hoped would be a comfortable bed. Mine was now gone, so I was now at the mercy of a stranger’s bed. Boy, doesn’t that sound torrid!

It’s a good thing Natalie likes sleeping in because we were utterly knackered and if there was a plan to meet up early the following day, we would have been the ones cancelling. We couldn’t get out of bed until after 8.30.

That’s really unusual for us. We’re usually up before the crack of dawn, certainly before the kookaburras start laughing and the Asian flights start their flight path at 6am.

Not this morning. It was all we could do to crawl to the bathroom. We were sore, we were tired, we were… wiped.

Thankfully the AirBnb had an espresso maker. Rich had three doubles. I managed two. We moved from the bed to the couch.

I contacted Nat and we agreed to go somewhere for lunch. That meant having to make room in the still overpacked car. After a shower and something to eat, Rich and I worked on moving some of our items up to the apartment to make a least a little room for Nat to sit securely in the back.

We headed to Belconnen for lunch. It was a place we’d been a few weeks prior when we’d settled Nat in to University. It was located only 10 mins from the City Centre and was a self-contained suburb, on the lake. It was the perfect place to grab lunch before giving Nat some time to buy her groceries for the week.

Now that she’s on her own, that was an interesting experience. Some of my experience had rubbed off, keeping to a budget, making a list etc… But she’s still in that “I’m independent and have my own money, therefore I can buy whatever I want” phase.

Needless to say, she’s now a full blown Nutella head.

After lunch and shopping it was already around 4pm so we headed back to the apartment. She needed to get some studying done and we seriously needed some down time.

We were still dragging, despite the copious amounts of coffee we’d consumed. I lay on the lumpy bed for a while and tried sleeping but it somehow eluded me. I just could not sleep.

Maybe those coffees had something to do with it, but I tell you just having a rest and closing my eyes did wonders. Yet, trying to rouse ourselves to go out again was beyond any thought of comprehension. There was just no way. So, Netflix it was.

That’s right. We were travelling the world and by Day Two, we were watching Netflix.

By the following morning, feeling revitalised a bit and a little more sorted with the mindset of full time travel, (because it is an adjustment knowing you’re now living out of your car). We made a plan for the day.

Natalie had a test to complete and some work to do. She anticipated she needed about 4 hours. That gave us the morning. It was a glorious day in Canberra. The clouds had finally cleared and we finally had some energy!

We headed to Watson Park, which borders Lake Burley Griffen. I had been here on a prior trip with my sister and Natalie, when we had a girly getaway over Easter a few years prior. It was a park I knew Rich would love. So, after a roundabout of the Embassies, (being Australia’s capital city), we headed toward the park.

It was so impressive to see how the park has been built alongside the lake, providing plenty of seating spots and picnic areas, gas grills and public toilets. Not to mention the bike trails! We took a wander and it was exactly what we needed to get in the travel groove.

We must have spent about 2 hours just walking, wandering the paths, heading toward the water, and back again. Watching the ducks bob in the water here and there, seeing the ‘roos hanging out in the shade, not bothered by any of the tourists.

But food prevailed. We needed it – and soon. While the car was full of food and the fridge within held lots of goodies, we were in the mood for the place we couldn’t get to the night we arrived: Zeus Greek. Once an idea gets in your head, it’s hard to get past it!

Finding Zeus not too busy, we found a table and sat down for some yummy pitas. The best part however were the doughnuts – with walnuts and honey. OMG. They were delicious. We will be returning.

Full as, we headed to the shops to walk it off. There were a few things we needed. Some pot holders for camping and some kind of dust-buster, since ours had died before we left. When you’re living out of your car, and sometimes tent, you have to keep it clean. We knew otherwise it would do our heads in. Yes, we are a little fanatic that way.

We were successful with the pot holders, but not the DustBuster, and after a few hours poking around, we found we were also in need of more coffee. Exhaustion was still with us. Either that or the doughnut sugar high had us crashing and hard. (Or a combo of both.)

We later caught up with Nat once she was done with studying. We had a lazy afternoon with her, painting nails, playing a game that was new to Rich and I, but generally we spent the time catching up. It was a relaxing afternoon…just what we all needed. But, once more, we were in bed again early.
It was pretty clear that the last month had finally caught up with us. It had been a crazy time getting Nat ready for Uni, donating our furniture, storing what was left and finally packing up to travel full time.

No one really tells you how much is involved or how emotional it is. And it’s not until afterwards how intensely it hits you.

Canberra

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