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Canberra, Australia, November 12

Log Entry:

Australia (Part 1)

11/12/2001

Our fourteen hour flight to Sydney was (surprisingly) restful. We left LA at 8:30 pm on November 4th and arrived in Sydney at 6:15 am on November 6th. Somehow we managed to leave November 5th back in the Pacific Ocean. We discussed this for a while and attempted some jet-lagged calculations, but in the end decided to just accept it as a mysterious trick that Aussies like to pull on American tourists. We then caught a short flight to Canberra, where I would be attending the IDUG Asia Pacific conference at the National Convention Center. The first order of business being laundry, we walked about two miles to the nearest laundromat and made some keen observations. First, it's still very much springtime here and the temperature gives it away. Upper teens to low twenties (Celsius that is...this is how I figure it out 20 C = 68 F, 30 C = 86 F). Secondly, noting that the streets were mostly deserted and vehicular traffic was very light, we concluded that Canberra is actually a ghost town, or maybe just a movie set, or perhaps everyone was still back in November 5th and just hadn't caught up to us yet. It turns out that we had unknowingly timed our arrival to fall on the same day as the most prestigious horse race in Australia - the Melbourne Cup. Apparently, all Australians, whether inclined toward the sport or not, drop everything on race day and flock to the nearest pub to take in the race (actually it's just one race of many, spanning several days). We can attest to this, as the small pub we were having lunch in next to the laundromat, filled up right before race time. Turned out that a horse from New Zealand took the crown. It was all quite exciting. Having clean socks was pretty exciting too.

For the next few days I was busy attending the conference, while Sue was taking advantage of the last overpriced hotel accomodations she would be seeing for a long, long time. Having Saturday to ourselves, we rented bicycles and toured the outer areas of Canberra via a maze of windy and confusing bike trails. After becoming lost, a very nice Australian woman set us straight and we found one of our destinations - the National Dinosaur Museum. Not quite the Museum of Natural History, but educational nonetheless. We set off again to try to see the National Aquarium, but became entangled in the bike trail web once again. Running out of time (the bikes were due back by four o'clock), we cruised along the edge of man-made Lake Burley Griffin, and found our way back into the city center. Along the way we passed by the nifty Cook Fountain, named after the alleged discoverer of Australia, Captain James Cook of the H.M.S. Endeavour.

After raiding the continental breakfast at the hotel one last time, we have packed up and headed to Melbourne, where we are hoping it will be warmer, but knowing it will be colder.


Pictures:


Cook Fountain in Lake Burley Griffin, Canberra, Australia