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Canberra ~ Australia’s Capitol City

September 16th, 2000 · No Comments

Larry helped me find the luggage and put my bike back together. To fly, the bikes have to have the peddles removed and the air out of the tires. We worked together to get it ready, then I left him (he doesn’t have his bike this time) and started off for the Carotel where we would be staying for 2 nights.

The RAAF Policeman escorted us off base, leading a string of bicycles 2 abreast. We were all tired and feeling a little fuzzy and most difficult of all we once again have to ride on the left side of the road. There was a stiff headwind, it made my ride seem so long. I had forgotten to unload the computer and all the extra stuff from my panniers so I was carrying additional unnecessary weight. Oh well it was only 16 kilometers to the Carotel.

My first impressions of Australia was it’s remarkable beauty. It was spring here. The cherry and apple blossoms were in full bloom. Tulips and daffodils were lining the road. It felt very strange to have spring again, it was just fall!

The road kill was interesting too. It breaks my heart to say this, but my first kangaroo sighting was of a huge dead one alongside the road. It looked to have been hit by a car recently. Then there were several others in various stages of decay. The kangaroo problem is obvious by the front bumpers people put on their cars. They have huge grillwork like “cow catchers” on the front of the trucks and SUV’s. I also passed by a nasty looking dead dingo too.

The flora and fauna of Australia are so very different. The birds were extremely loud. I usually don’t hear the birds when I’m riding, but today they were coming in loud and clear. I was thrilled to see different trees and flowers unfamiliar to me.

We were riding through horse country. In one field there were 5 young horses just running back and forth. they looked to be teenage horses just out showing off their beauty. I had never seen horses play together like this before. I also noticed so many of the horses wear blankets, to protect them from the cold wind.

Today was not necessarily cold, but the wind was strong. Later I found out that it was actually the first warm day in the area this spring. The locals were out in their short sleeves soaking up the sunshine. I was warm riding, but then I was going uphill, into the wind, carrying 20 pounds of excess.

Cresting the hill finally before my last turn onto Federal Highway, I felt on top of the world. The expansive view was of Canberra in the distance with hills and mountains on the horizon. My work was done, it was all downhill from here.

Weeeee! Downhill is good!

Checking in I got our room assignment. We were to share a “bunk house” with 10 other people. That sounds good, only if you are totally wiped out or if you are under 25. I knew Larry would not like it. Just the same I reserved us the only double bed in the room. Big deal it was located right next to 5 bunk beds with absolutely no privacy. This was a flop house. I would rather sleep in my tent, any day!

I was right. Larry arrived a little while later. He took one look at the room and said, “I have reserved a hotel room in town, where would you like to stay?”

The hotel room was great. It had only one bed but the best part about it, it had a MODEM! We got to watch the Olympics from the comfort and privacy of our very own room. It was wonderful.

The Australian ParliamentCanberra is the Nation’s Capitol City. It houses the country’s Parliament House, War Memorial, Embassies and government related buildings. The city is new looking having been built in recent history. There is a man made lake giving the area a very nice look. All in all I think the Aussie’s have done a great job.

We are here just in time to see their celebration of spring flowers called “Floriade”. ThereCrocodile McGee (Larry that is) are one million flowers all blooming “on cue” for the festival.

Murrumbateman Wimery

We found a delightful winery just prior to the town of Murrumbateman, it was a winery of the same name. Once inside we were treated to a Gallery of local artist’s renderings. After awhile a gentleman by the name of Duncan Leslie came along and offered us samples of his vine. He had an interesting group of champagne, white and red wine.

Duncan Leslie, Vigneron of the Murrumbateman WineryDuncan shared with us some of the processes of growing and picking the grapes. His antidotes were interesting and amusing. We found ourselves listening intently, the wine industry is rather fascinating. For instance, Duncan had a fabulous wine that we would think of as “port”. Since he is prohibited by the National Wine Board from calling his wine by a name used by wine makers in other countries, he called his vintage “starboard”.

It was a wonderful way to spend and afternoon. We purchased 4 different bottles of his wines, wishing we had room for more. They were special because we know they had been tended with the love and care, only a small vineyard could provide.

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