Canberra, the capital of Australia. I know! Like most of you, I thought that the capital was Sydney, since that’s the city we hear about the most. To arrive in the capital, we had a little hurdle. As in New Zealand, we got ourselves a relocation vehicle, but this time around I didn’t realize that we got a manual campervan with the rudest company ever. Don’t hire from Camperman. (Can’t see company until you receive confirmation on the Transfercar website that you got the relocation vehicle). I heard the unorganized team talk in the office that they weren’t able to finish up the van, then the manager stepped out and aggressively lied to us that they don’t clean the vehicles for relocation and still forced us to sign the standard waiver which includes cleaning fees if the van was dropped off in bad conditions. Ignoring the company’s unprofessional and shifty behavior with everything, both of us are armature manual drivers. Meaning that we will kill the car a few times on the way. Getting the manual was totally my fault, but my travel partner took on the stress of driving in the cities. Thank you! I’m not sure if you know the feeling of killing the car at a green light with bunch of cars behind you, providing this rush and panic, which only results in killing the car more and more before you finally manage to get it right. Wishing that the light stays green long enough and then cry when it doesn’t. Our time would have been more fun if I would have paid more attention. Didn’t help that I worried about getting charged $250 in cleaning fees.
This section of our trip could have been awful if we didn’t run into one of the best Couchsurfing host ever. Initially I reached out to the Couchsurfing community enquiring for free parking spots during the day while we go explore the city. We got a few suggestions, but Graham randomly offered a free cycling tour to the thread. We happily accepted his offer, but on our day of arrival, we concluded that we did not have enough time to see the city on bikes since he had to pick up his niece from school hours later. So, we drove our manual van instead. He had great patience with our rugged driving. On top of that, he had great knowledge of the area and history of Australia.
First stop on our tour was Mount Ainslie Lookout. With a fantastic viewpoint of the entire capital, Graham pointed out all the interesting landmarks and mentioned what was special about them. He also told stories of buildings tourists don’t normally hear about. Rolling back down the mountain, the Australian War Museum was our next halt. This free museum is fantastic and should be visited while in Canberra. The museum offers free tours, but we had our host who knew what he was talking about. The fact that near the museum a Turkish flag flies, is fascinating considering the fact of the countries were enemies and that many Australian lives were lost in Turkey during war. After touring the impressive museum, we had to part ways since the niece’s school was about to end. Before we parted, Graham invited us for dinner later at his home.
While thinking about pasta dinner, we had some more locations to check off. National Museum Australia has a little of everything Australia. Entry is free of charge besides the special exhibition. Unfortunately, the main reason we came here, the Aboriginal section, was temporarily closed. So, we swiftly worked our way through the museum before our hourly parking ran out of time and after drove up on another hill for a view. The Arboretum was already closed when we got up there, but there are few walks available. We chose the trail to the best view point. Though a short path, I couldn’t escape fast enough. Tons of horse flies! (Flies that bite like mosquitos.) I’ve never had such bad reactions to bites until Australia. I made the mistake in Melbourne wearing shorts because of the hot weather and got multiple bites. The bites would swell up bright red and expand, then turn into a bruise. This resulted in my legs looking as if someone took a baseball bat and smashed it into my legs multiple times. Not a pretty sight. Not like the green view we got from the vantage point. Canberra has so many trees in between neighborhoods. Hard to tell that it’s a city, nevertheless the capital!
Dinner time was approaching, hence we found our way back to our host for the meal, fantastic conversation, some soccer with the niece, a hot shower, and awesome advice. Instead of driving to our next free camp to spend the night, we parked nearby our hosts home. In the morning, we ate breakfast with him and he made me a barista worthy latte. I couldn’t believe that I stuck gold. I just wanted to find a place to park the van, but got a free tour, dinner, breakfast, and met a person I can ask about practical life advice. I do hope we will run into each other again. Happy about my luck, we moved on to Sydney after breakfast. Sydney was another great host experience. Probably the most pampered I felt since a child. That story is for the next post though!
Cost breakdown of Canberra (1 day with total cost of $30.08. Average daily cost is $30.08.)
- Transportation: $28.20 (Campervan Relocation)
- Miscellaneous: $1.88 (Hourly Parking Fee)