Travel Journal

Onward To Hellberra Part 1

(Wednesday 25 November 2009) by Al/Alvin "Poison" Challis
26th October:
I got on the train to Canberra in what suspiciously looked like an Intercity 125 except this train was called a Countrylink XPT Explorer and ran from Melbourne to Sydney. I was heading to a place called Yass Junction where i would then catch a bus to Canberra where i would stay for 3 days to see its wonders.

As always the train was full of its random folk. opposite me was a talkative chap from Wollongong in NSW who had just taken a trip to Tasmania (Tassie as the Aussies call it) and was revelling in its beauty. He was nice enough but sketchy to say the least. However, it wa snot as sketchy as the kid who sat behind me who was found to not have a ticket on him after saying that he had a booking number on his phone which his mother had given him when she paid for his ticket.

I turned out of course to be a complete crock of shit, and the kid accordingly flipped out when he was told that he would have to leave the train at a place called Wagga Wagga pronounced "Wogga Wogga". "But i have to get to Goulburn, i have a f**king funeral to go to" the kid cried and with the conductor stated that if he put up any more resistance then he would call the police to be present at Wagga. Upon the dropping of this bombshell, the kid knew that his time was up and was resigned to his fate. Prat.

Apart from that, my trip to Canberra went pretty smoothly and arrived at around 5:30pm. I knew that as soon as i arrived that Canberra was no Melbourne. Where were all the people for a start? It was empty and void. Where were all the coffee shops, restaurants, pubs? No where. Oh my god where the hell have i ended up to? People had given me due warning too...

I decided to stay at the hostel that night and catch up on some things like the blog writing and reading my book. I was still recovering from saturday's shenanigans and i thought that the best thing that i could do was to get a good night's sleep and plan what i was going to do in Canberra.

27th October:

Arising from 12 hours of sleep and a spring in my step, i left the hostel to a grey and miserable Canberra sky. I decided that i was heading to Parliament to see some politics. Unfortunately, i did not realise how long it would take for me to get there. i saw Parliament House and just went straight for it and nothing was going to stand in my way. Roads, cars, it didn't matter. The Challis was on the proverbial on foot rampage!

The only problem was that because Canberra's roads around the parliamentary are circular and it took me twice as long to get there. I just wish that they had straight roads where you know if you walk down it you will get to where you want to go. Mr Burley-Griffin has a lot to answer for.

Once i did get to Parliament house, i was not overly impressed with what i saw. Sure it looked like a good looking building in which to house the political dealings of Australia but the building just seemed soul and lifeless and had no character in any way, shape or form. What it did house though was one of the few copies of the Magna Carta. How it bloody got there i have no idea but it was amazing. What made me laugh also was that the meaning of the document was transcribed by a Professor from UEA! Yes get in there i thought, one of the academics from UEA doing his bit for the benefit of humanity in understanding this document. Awesome.

Although the rooms from within Parliament House were not that great, the views from it were. Parliament House looks over in a straight line to the Old Parliament House and onto Anzac Parade and the Australian War Memorial on the other side of Lake Burley-Griffin, with Mt. Ainslie overlooking the lot. Pretty cool.

But again it did not feel like it was really beautiful or had any soul or atmosphere like for example when i looked across at Perth CBD from King's Park. It was nice but something was definitely missing. I Headed from the New Parliament House to the Old Parliament House to check out the building to see what it had to offer. It was a pretty cool building in all honesty and there were tonnes of rooms in which to explore. You go round the old Prime Minister's quarters and the Senate and the House of Representatives and it had all the history behind the Prime Minister's democracy in Australia etc. All pretty interesting but not really all that inspiring. Canberra was not looking like a place that i would come back to again at any point.

I headed off and decided that i would take a walk up to the lake and have a little scout around. I ended up walking around most of the lake and headed back to Commonwealth Ave on the other side of it. Here they had a big globe monument which detailed Captain Cook's voyages across the the world when he made his discoveries across the World. Nice to look at, but wondered why the hell it was there and what link ever had with Canberra? I could't work it out. Canberra did not even exist as the capital until 1912 and that was well over 100 years since Cook discovered the Australian East Coast. Stupid.

Canberra for me was trying way too hard. all these monument did not give any atmosphere to the place. I headed back to the hostel a little bit confused as to what was going on with the place. I was knackered, i had walked miles during the day and i was really feeling the pain. I reckon i had walked the best part of 8-10 miles during the day.

I cooked up dinner and then headed up to the balcony in order to catch up on my writing. I met a French- Canadien guy who literally chewed my ear off that Australia was crap and that i should go and visit Quebec and the Eastern Provinces of Canada whenever i get a chance to do so. I smiled sweetly and thought i would give my verdict upon seeing more of the country. I finished writing and then went to bed. :-|


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