Canberra, Australia, November 12
Australia (Part 1)
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.
Cook Fountain in Lake Burley Griffin, Canberra, Australia