23/10/18 We were fortunate to get a caravan site in Canberra. Schools in ACT and NSW were back from holidays, Canberra’s Floriade festival had finished, and there were no big events on in town, so there should have been sites aplenty. I wasn’t going to ring ahead and book but the Chair of the Board insisted. And we learned that, for some inexplicable reason, all caravan parks were chockers. Charm won the day and we scraped in a spot at the showground, Exhibition Park. We were in Canberra for an impromptu catch up with our niece, Heather, and Andrew and their two boys, Nicholas and Alexander. We had a lovely time with them. It was just a shame that Andrew was away on business. So we drank his wine.
This was our second visit to the national capital and, as before, I could not get my head around the layout and the annoying number of roundabouts. Canberrans used to be called ‘Roundabout-abouters’ for good reason. As also noted on our previous visit, the lack of attention to grass cutting in Canberra. Puzzling. Just about every lawn, footpath and nature strip looked neglected and overgrown. Certainly a shaggy look that our capital is presenting to visitors. I didn’t think it could due to the current drought – it was the same when we were there four years ago. It must a Canberra thing.
Leaving Canberra after a couple of days, we headed to Yass where we had a leg stretch down the main street, picked up some local wine and a couple of really nice looking rib eye fillets that went on the Weber a couple of nights later…mmm. At Yass, we got onto the Hume Highway that runs inland, carrying loads of traffic between Sydney to Melbourne. It probably serves a good purpose but I reckon it has to be the dead set most boring bit of road ever, without a doubt. The highway manages to not only bypass just about every town but absolutely everything of interest worth looking at. It’s like a committee got together and mapped out all the interesting spots, then made the highway go everywhere else. So you just motor along it in a sort of lobotomised stupor.
Further west of Yass, I roused myself from the road trance in time to turn off to the small town of Jugiong, and our overnight camp in the showground. The field is bordered on one side by the Murrumbidgee River and we pulled the van in along the edge of the high riverbank, giving us a great view out over the water.
Back on the Hume Highway the next morning, we’d been tootling along for a little while – starting to feel like a long, long while – so it was good to turn off at Gundagai onto a pleasant backroad that took us through rolling pasture country to Sandy Beach Reserve, again on the banks of the Murrumbidgee. What a magic spot – alongside the clear river, in amongst ancient river red gums. Di braved the cold waters for a very invigorating dip. I wimped out, preferring warm and smelly. We stayed for a couple of days before continuing on our way south.
Back on the Hume Highway again (sigh), at Albury, NSW, we crossed the Murray River to Wodonga, VIC, on the other side and exited onto a backroad to Doolans Bend, one of the many bush camps dotted along the Murray. Camp was set up on a nice open grassy patch not three metres from the water’s edge, with a few very fat Hereford cattle for company. What a spot. I got out the rod, but the Murray Cod obviously hadn’t gotten the memo. There’s a fine line between fishing and standing on the bank looking like an idiot, so the rod went away and I settled into a book instead. Di went for a quick dip in the river, coaxing me in as well this time. Man, was it cold. Quite literally, numbing – and yet, refreshing in a somewhat sadomasochistic kind of way.
The days have been pleasant and the nights cold. It’s lovely in the chilly mornings to see a mist hanging low over the water. All we need is the paddle steamer, PS Philadelphia, to come chuffing around the bend with Sigrid Thornton up in the wheelhouse pashing John Waters and we’d have a scene straight out of All the Rivers Run.
And in closing, the family haven’t had a Dad Joke from me for a while, so…
Did you hear about the camper who broke his left arm and left leg? He’s all right now.