43, 5, 3 & 1
That is the approximate road kill count on our journey from Melbourne to Canberra (Kangaroos, Foxes, Possums & a Wombat. I opted not to count on the trip home). The volume of the carnage on the proposed 7 hour road-trip (according to Google Maps) was certainly not expected!
My key assigned role (other than navigator) for the morning leg of our 6.5 hour drive from Melbourne to our nations capital was a simple, yet challenging one.
Find a good Vanilla Slice en route for our morning tea or lunch break (or perhaps both, Sarah does love them indeed).
We set off around 6.30am, and I had a few bakery candidates in mind. I’d even stumbled upon an old blog ranking Victoria’s Vanilla Slices, but sadly, it appeared to have lain dormant for at least 12 months…
And within an hour or so of being on the road, I had no recollection of where exactly we should be stopping for that Vanilla Slice (we did end up stopping for one at Benalla, also indulging in a meat pie)
With the drive fairly uneventful, we had a final stop just outside Canberra, in the regional town of Yass.
We were on our way to visit new parents Rory, my best friend since primary school (so that’s a friendship 27 years strong), his lovely wife Becca, and their new bundle of joy, Nicky J (Nicholas James).
As such, much of the weekend was spent just relaxing with them as we caught up and introduced ourselves to the new little man, Nicholas.
Still, there is always time to see some of the sights, and after a sensational Saturday morning brunch in the heart of Canberra.
Please let me shatter any illusions quickly. Although the capital of the country, it is not a huge bustling city. It’s population is under 400,000 (the 8th largest in Australia) and it is dwarfed by both Melbourne and Sydney.
It is however home to the National Gallery of Australia as well as the Australian War Memorial, and it is there that we spent some time after a brief stroll in Glebe Park and a suprising encounter with Gandhi (I discovered a bronze statue to the apostle of non-violence. Was he trying to guilt me, as we were heading to the war memorial?)
The AWM (Australian War Memorial) serves as a monument and commemoration to all Australian service-men and women who have served and the many who have died for their country, and as one could expect, it is always a humbling experience.
Unfortunately for this visit, the wing focused on the First World War was closed, however there was still plenty enough for us to not have time to see as it was!
The Hall of Memory really was a thing of beauty, with an incredible mosaic, domed ceiling and lovely stained glass windows (depicting soldiers, service-women, sailors and airmen), with the solemn dedication and tomb to the Unknown Soldier.
As our hosts fatigued (playing mother and host is tough work), we left Rory & Becca to rest up, whilst we took ourselves over to the suburb of Red Hill to visit ‘Calthorpe’s House’
This 1920’s home of a wealthy Canberran (as they are known) was furnished at the time, and but for the odd addition as the world modernised (an electric refrigerator and oven from the 1950’s) has otherwised remained as is.
A time capsule of sorts, it is thought to be the best preserved example of a 1920’s home, anywhere in Australia and when the opportunity arose in 1979, the federal government opted to purchase and preserve the home.
Certainly not the average 1920’s home, they remained fairly affluent throughout the whole of the depression, but it really was an incredible place to see (and smell, it did have that old smell)
One indulgent and unexpected addition from the 1940’s sat in the backyard, a throwback to the Second World War. Their very own bomb shelter!
We’d been given the hot tip that the National Library of Australia was hosting a special exhibition of antique maps. There was some truth to this tip.
The library certainly was hosting such an exhibition… just not until the 2nd week of November.
We lucked out on that one, however there were certainly still some articles on display we were able enjoy, even if the building itself was more functional, than beautiful.
Our final morning found as at the Bus Depot Markets. Held every Sunday morning, these markets right near the shores of Lake Burley-Griffin were a real surprise. A large variety of stalls, and even some live buskers, what certainly wasn’t expected was the nature of the cuisines cooking in the ready to eat food stalls.
Ethiopian, Laotian, Spanish and Turkish (as well as a fresh coffee stall, which was very well received by our hosts), it seemed as cosmopolitan as parts of Melbourne or Sydney.
On the road again around lunchtime, the drive home was looking fairly uneventful (more roadkill aside), when around 2 hours still out of Melbourne, a stone struck and chipped our windscreen.
This would normally be trivial, easily fixed by a windscreen repairer, however our luck was absent, and moments later it as struck again, almost in the same location causing a larger crack!
The crack began to spread (I began to have visions of the whole windscreen shattering on us), but with luck, we managed to make the rest of the journey home without mishap…