Capital CanberraJanuary 31, 2020 in Australia ⋅ ☀️ 31 °C
Yet another 6am rise to catch the 07.12 train from Sydney Central to Canberra. We were going to visit my Aunt Jean and cousin Stuart who ironically only recently moved from Sydney to Canberra. Our 1st Class journey was pleasant enough, although not on a par with the wonderful Spirit of Queensland service. (Train nerd note: I noticed that the New South Wales trains run on the Standard Gauge Track of 4’6”, like the UK, as opposed to Queensland’s smaller 3’6” Gauge).
The train passed through Campbelltown on the way, (but no sign of the Loch (or the whisky). Again there was only minimal sightings of bush fire damage on the 4 hour train trip, although generally everything looked hot and dried up, including some of the small rivers. The air conditioned carriage belied the fact that it was 41 degrees Celsius outside! No need for my sweater then today!
We arrived bang on time in the nation’s capital city, Canberra, located in the ACT (Australian Capital Territory), separate from the rest of the State of New South Wales, just as Washington DC is a separate entity from other US States. Stuart and Aunt Jean met us at the station and it was good to see them again. Aunt Jean has recently turned 90 and is looking good.
Stuart gave us a tour of Canberra - the planned capital city of what was the new Australian federation. The excellent visitor centre gave an overview of the planning of the city, and then we had a tour of the impressive Parliament Building. A trip up to Black Mountain Telstra Tower afforded wonderful views over the city and Lake Burley Griffin including, rather worryingly, a thick pall of smoke from bush fires just over the hills! We finished our tour with a trip to the National Arboretum, home to more than 44,000 trees from all over the world, including many endangered species.
A visit back to Aunt Jean’s house for tea ended a lovely visit. Although Stuart offered to drive us back to Sydney (distance is no object here in Oz, he declared), we insisted on getting the train back as we had bought return tickets anyway. The 4 hour journey back was slightly delayed as the train was required to slow down due to excessive outside heat which was affecting the rails!
We enjoyed an airline-style meal on the train back to Sydney. As we were eating, we heard a rather loud conversation from the elderly gentleman behind us, on the phone to his daughter: ‘Yes, I know honey that your new stepmother and I have been on another trip, and I can tell you here and now that there will be a lot more. What difference does age make? I’m not 80 yet and I know she still finds me attractive. I don’t care how much our trips cost, I’ll be damned if I am leaving anything for you to squander’. Still not sure if he was joking, but the call ended abruptly thereafter.Read more