Last Monday evening P & I went to Canberra. We were only there for 24 hours, so that P could update her passport at the Malaysian High Commission.

Instead of flying we caught a Greyhound to our nation’s capital. We left at 8pm Melbourne time and did not arrive until 4am the next morning. There was one 45 minute stop in Holbrook at the Caltex roadhouse. The trip was OK but I was very cramped afterwards. I did not sleep at all on the bus and as I had worked on Monday morning, this meant I had been awake almost 24hours.

When we arrived in freezing Canberra everything was closed, including the bus station, except for the McDonalds a little way down the road. We had not booked into a hotel as our plan was to get to Canberra, hang around a bit, go to the High Commission and then go. We spent two hours  in Maccas before we returned to the now open bus station. We had to wait until 5pm for the breakfast menu, so we just sat chatting and watching some American chat show on the big screen TV. When we could finally get our Sausage & Egg McMuffins, Hashbrowns and coffees, P and I read the Sydney Daily Telegraph which arrived at this time. (What a horrible little paper. It’s even worse than the Herald Sun. There’s even a brothels section in the classifieds, which shows just how classy Sydney people are compared to us Melburnians! Seriously it is like the Truth newspaper of the 80s.) As we were leaving, some young guy who had been typing away on his laptop, asked us if we could give him some money to buy a meal. I declined doing so, my reasoning being that if he can afford a lap-top he can afford a Maccas meal. (I don’t have a lap-top)

Unlike the bus station in Melbourne at the Southern Cross station, the Canberra bus station was very run down. There was no Travelers Aid like in Melbourne where you can shower and get refreshed for the day. In Canberra there was a toilet, which had no toilet paper (very convenient for me as I was desperate for a poo), a cafeteria which opened at 6am, and the Greyhound and Murrays bookings offices. There was also a TV showing WIN television (aka Channel 9).

After getting very bored and cramped (from the uncomfortable bus station seats), P & I decided to walk to the High Commission at around 7.30. We checked a (not to scale) map and figured it wouldn’t be too far away, and as the High Comm did not open until 9 we could rest in a nearby park. The walk ended up taking longer than expected but we reached the High Comm at 8.30. We looked around at the other embassies, noting that the Pakistani Embassy looked just like a vacant block filled with lots of bushes, while across the road was the American Embassy, which looked more like a prison complex. The Americans really seem to have gone overboard with their security.

We did our business at the High Comm but had to return at 3pm. We did want to leave on the 2pm bus, but now we’d have to wait until midnight. This gave us five hours to do something in Canberra.We decided to go to Parliament House. I was extremely tired and whilst there could only think about sitting on the big comfy seats and cathing some much needed shut-eye.  P, who not only slept in until 11am on Monday but also was able to catch a couple of hours sleep on the bus, wanted to look around and take photos. I could barely keep my eyes open, so the whole Parliament House experience was a blur.


After Parliament House we wisely caught a taxi back to the city centre for some lunch. We went to a chicken bar and had a schnitzel burger, chips and Coke. P thought that the meal was nice but she has no taste. The schnitzel was cold and undercooked and the chips needed salt. After lunch we walked dazedly around the city. Canberrans seem a lot friendlier than us Melbourne folk. They were really friendly and polite. We didn’t want to get lost so we did not stray too far from the bus station, but unlike Melbourne you have to search hard to find out where the shops are. In Melbourne there’s a 7/11, McDonalds and Hungry Jacks on every corner. In Canberra we only found the one Maccas. We did also find Big W and JB Hifi, but there were no 7/11s.

Eventually we caught a taxi back to the High Commission. We had a friendly but reckless taxi driver who thought he was Michael Schumacher. It took us ten minutes to finish off our business. We then started walking back to town, hoping that a cab would come our way. None did, but we did catch a Canberra bus. When we arrived back at the bus station we again walked around the city. We had some dinner at Maccas. By this time things were starting to wind down, and P wanted to stay at the bus station, despite how dingy it was. We watched the Sydney news (lots of thugby league news), Win’s Canberra news and A Current Affair. ACA was a revelation as it featured a story that I had suggested and I was even mentioned (as an anonymous viewer who emailed the details of a scam, as well as the telephone number and business name, to ACA). Then it was Customs and Border Security, by which time P & I decided to walk around Canberra and chat.

At 10pm we returned to the bus station. There was a drunk guy there who we would unfortunately be catching the bus with. He seemed intent on swearing to himself and spitting and just being plain annoying. P & I pretended to read books, which meant that he would only swear louder. By 10.30pm the bus station kicked us out into the freezing cold as that was there closing time.

Finally just before midnight the bus arrived. P & I, both frozen to the bone, climbed aboard with the drunk guy and about 15 others. As soon as I sat down in my seat I fell asleep. I had not slept for 43 hours and I could not stay awake a minute longer. I slept until we stopped at Holkbrook three hours later, where I went to the toilet, bought a muffin to eat and generally stretched my legs. Once back on the bus I again fell asleep instantly, this time not waking until about 6am. This shows how tired I was as I normally can not sleep in a car, bus or train or anything that is moving.

We arrived back at Spencer Street at 8.40, 40 minutes late due to the traffic on the Tullamarine Freeway. From there P & I headed home for a shower and some breakfast, before doing the other things we needed to do in the city. At 5pm we returned home and I immediately went to bed, not waking again until 10am on Thursday morning.

Advertisements