Up early, 06:30, plenty of time for a leisurely breakfast and a couple of coffees. We are at the Cabramatta Station before 8am, buy (full price!) train tickets as we no longer have the opal travel cards (bugger). We take about 50 minutes to get to Central Station, and then have to figure how the hell to get out at the right exit. Staff are most helpful, the signs are a bit confusing, but we can blame that on the early hour (cough) and the lack of coffee.
An American lady asks if we know where the pay phones are, but we have calls on our Aussie numbers so she uses Cynthea’s phone to call her brother and let him know she is getting on the local train. We are not quite sure where the bus station is, there are local buses that have replaced the light trains, but we cannot see the company we need – it should be “right there”. We head down to street level, and finally find the office, located under the train station!. Wish these bloody companies would give better directions to their depots.
We have allowed plenty of time, but did miss grabbing something munch on the way, breakfast was nearly three hours ago and we are hungry again ;-)
We check in, and as soon as everyone is aboard we leave. No point waiting when we are all here. Bus driver tells us we will be in Melbourne in no time, Tony says he thought this was the bus Perth…
A pleasant drive, road kill here is a bit different – mainly wombats and roos. Nearing Canberra we are looking for a massive lake, but it is nowhere to be seen, just flat grassland. Turns out it dried up. Water comes in from the surrounding hills, but Lake George drains into subterranean rivers, and is only really full after a lot of rain. There hasn’t been enough for many years…
We arrive at Canberra just after 1pm. Tony is keen to get a new camera, the old one was not functioning that well after being dropped at the weekend. It will take photos as long as you don’t need a flash, or to change the setting it is on. He checks directions and is told the shop he wants is walking distance, and not to take too much notice of the directions on his phone. He drags for Cynthea along, with their packs. Cynthea is soon over it…
We find the shopping centre, and the directions tell Tony to go up the escalator, along the first floor, and back down again. There is not a shop directory, and we get hopelessly confused. We get a bite to eat, and Tony heads off on his own. The bloody shop is on the ground floor, across the lane from the escalator we first went up! Not happy, but pleased to have found the shop.
We go in and it seems not have a lot of stock, but we talk to the staff anyway, may as well now we are here. Tony explains what he needs, and is impressed that the sales guy goes straight to the model Tony was describing. A huge difference to the twats at that store in Sydney (not this chain). Usually Tony would throw in a couple of silly questions to see if he can catch the sales people out in a lie, but felt it was not needed this time. He was undecided over two models, and also needed a case. The one he wanted was not in stock, but the other branch had them, and the salesman offered to run (literally) over and get one. While he was gone Tony talked to another staff member. Both staff advised that Tony would need the cheaper model (old version, superseded), but Tony decided on the updated model anyway. The salesman arrived back with the case, and Tony tells him he has changed his mind, poor bugger, look on his face was priceless. Tony quickly told him he was joking.
The new toy is another Canon, a compact Powershot SX740, 20 megapixel with 40x zoom3, NZ$59. Not too complicated to learn, and it can connect to his phone and be fully operated by Bluetooth. Brilliant.
We catch a bus to the motel, in the Dickson shopping centre. A lovely wee area, very vibrant and full of restaurants. We had booked a six-bed room, but we have been placed on our own in a four-bed room, NZ$289 for five nights, includes a continental breakfast . Cynthea’s great nephew Michael, his partner Janey and son Elijah (2) meet us for tea. We go to the Duck’s Nuts, a pub on the corner that had good reviews. Not so good for us, not horrible, but certainly not up to the expected standard. Cynthea’s chicken meal was not properly cooked, and they replaced it… after a long wait. It turned out that the chef was not happy with the replacement and ordered up another, served long after everyone else had finished, and after Cynthea had eaten Elijah’s chips!
06 April - Saturday
Tony’s second cousin, Milton Black and his wife Anne pick us up around 11am, then we go on a wee tiki tour around Canberra, past the War Memorial, and the old and new parliament buildings. It is great to see them again, last in 2002. Yesterday was their son Bretton’s birthday so we are going to their place for a bbq. Bretton has recently retired from the Institute of Sport in Canberra, and he and Sue have just moved into their new home on 7 acres out of Canberra. We meet many of Sue’s family, their two daughters Lauren and Emma, and Emma’s partner Hamish who is training for his helicopter pilot’s licence.
After lunch we go with Bretton for a wander around the property. He has pink peppercorn bushes growing on the property, the peppercorns ripen and dry on the tree and you just rub off the papery husk and eat – or grind. When they are discussing a Maori name for the property we suggest Horopito (a native food plant in NZ with peppery tasting leaves).
We have a wonderful day, and it is over all too soon.