Sydney, Canberra, Possums and the Magna Carta

As we’ve travelled through New South Wales we’ve passed near Hexham, Stockton, Durham and Swansea. We made a point of visiting the coastal town of Newcastle, but on driving through thought better of it as two orange faced girls in short skirts indicated the town probably shared all the worst aspects of it’s tyneside namesake.

At night in Sydney I see a possum in the dark which is cute and exciting. The next morning off inland to Canberra, a city I’d wanted to visit as it’s Australia’s capital city but gets far less international attention than Sydney or Melbourne. Canberra’s main attraction is the Parliament Building and the city itself, the layout and architecture of which was decided by competition in the early 1900’s. All the entants are on show in the free to walk around building exhibition, one of which is a ringer for the Imperial City of Cyrodill in the Elder Scroll games, and another is clearly from the love child of hitler and MC Escher, who did those black and white pictures of endless staircases.

The city proper is one long straight road passing straight through the centre of the city, broken only twice by two enourmous roundabouts, one a park, the other home to the gigantic Parliament Building. Branching out from the main road the commerce and residential areas are arranged in interlocking hexagons of streets so from the air the whole place looks like an elaborate crop circle/honetcomb/tardis walls, or a successful version of Washington, Tyne and Wear.

Canberra is a chilled out place, no high skyscrapers, a vast expanse of land with everything spread out and connected in straight lines, more or less. I like Canberra loads despite the fact that they have the magna carta. Yes, that Magna Carta. It apparently went ‘missing’ from England many years ago turning up in an Australian school in the 1950’s. A likely story. I suspect the humour and irony was not lost on the fact that an ancient scroll describing fundaments of English law was stolen from England and reappeared on a continent that was originally populated by criminals. There’s a bit of me would like to see it returned, but at the same time I also think it’s hilarious.

We spend a couple of very cold days in Canberra and use two different camp grounds, both of which have equally poor kitchen facilities. One appears to be a garage with an oven and a grotty bbq in it. The other is at least indoor but has no kitchen.

Onwards to Melbourne, and a tour of the set of Neighbours at the wife indulgence. I’m glad I’ve got those strong ‘night-time’ cold capsules.