Away to the A.C.T.

Published: October 7th 2018
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The A.C.T (Australian Capital Territory)

After a quick breakfast and settling up with the RSI Club Motel ( by the way a very nice hotel if you venture through Wagga Wagga- Don't forget to bring your lawn bowling equipment!)

For most of the trip over to the ACT, I was on a 4 lane divided Highway which was fantastic since I wouldn't have to deal with many Road Trains. The scenery was much different from anything I've seen in Australia thus far. Rolling hills with lots of green - I thought at one point I was back in Scotland on last years trip. Lots of grazing sheep and cattle.

Side Bar: Where as the U.S. spends the largest portion of its budget on Defense then I'd say the Aussies spend the largest portion of their budget on road signs. Some of the signs are really great, like the trivia signs to help keep drivers awake- the U.S. could learn something from the use of these. However, some of the signs are a bit redundant - I.E. there will be a 100 foot long narrow bridge coming up and they will post a sign that says "no overtaking on Bridge". By the time you've absorbed the words you are over the bridge. There are an enormous amount of signs warning that "Drowsy Drivers Die" or "Fatigue is Fatal" etc... Since reading can cause sleepiness I wonder if the shear number of these signs aren't working against the grain? The signs you'll never hear me complain about are the signs reminding you to keep left at the exit of nearly every round about.

The A.C.T. (Australian Capital Territory) was my target destination, if I had been willing to do another 350 mile day I could easily have made Sydney, but I like to visit capitals whether a country or a state. Since Canberra was basically on the way back to Sydney it was a natural stop over. Karen starts her trek out to meet me tomorrow and will arrive in Sydney on Tuesday (today is Sunday for me). Tomorrow morning I'll make my way back to Sydney to conclude "Jims Rideabout Oz 2018".

Every now and then my Garmin has no clue where it is sending me, it took me an hour to find the Hyatt Canberra because my Garmin kept sending me to a parking lot. I stopped at the Australian Treasury Department and the Parliament building to get directions because my phone showed the hotel was close to these landmarks. I tried calling but wasn't able to connect with anyone. I eventually found it but like Sydney and Brisbane the streets are a little screwy. The hotel is beautiful and set back from the road. They gave me courtesy underground parking, after checking in and resting for a bit. I went to the City walk area (downtown) and decided to look for an Irish pub or two. I decided on King O'Malley's for my first stop. One of the things that I don't like in the pubs here is that they generally don't have bar stools at the bar. The entire bar is left open for people to go up and order then they go back to their seats away from the bar (see the picture). King O'Malley was one of the pioneers of Canberra and had a lot to do with Canberra becoming a planned city and the capital. (see the historical notes section below). I had two pints of Guinness- here the first was so so but the second one was a solid 9.0. Just goes to show you that the pour can be the difference. There were a lot of historical notes on the wall involving both King O'Malley and Canberra's history. It sounds like the naming of the city came from 750 different submissions and in the end an envelope was pulled containing the name, circa 1913.

I wondered down the road to check out PJ O'Brien's pub (this is a chain but have had some good results (Sydney). Two things you expect walking into an Irish pub - a friendly atmosphere and a draft Guinness. The bartender was friendly enough but when I asked for a pint of the Black Stuff he said sheepishly "I'm sorry we are out of Guinness" ! The guy standing next to me (see picture of Tom) and I were all over the poor guy. How can an Irish pub run out of Guinness we asked? The bartender had no good answer. It was clear by the lack of crowd that King O'Malley's (which was packed) was taken PJ's to town from a customer perspective. The bright side is that I was able to talk to Tom who was with his girlfriend and another couple . We talked about my ride and he told me it was too bad that I wasn't going to see WA (Western Australia). I said I'd like to do another trip and start in Melbourne then head west to Perth then go up and over toward Darwin and then back down the middle again. He showed me a picture of Broome (his girlfriend is from there) see pic. The desert goes right up to the sea with gorgeous beaches. We ended up talking for 15 minutes before the rest of his gang said it was time to go.

I caught an UBER back to my hotel. UBER is up and running in the big cities but not in the smaller ones.

History of Canberra:

As with many capital cities there is typically a lot of history behind how the city was chosen as the nations Capital City. Often physical location has a lot to say in a democratic nation. The idea being the capital should be as easily accessible to the population as possible, particularly from a physical central location with in the country. This idea left Australia with a bit of a dilemma. Alice Springs was physically a better choice for the Capital in that it would give access to the heart of physical Australia to all parts of the country. But while Alice Springs is centrally located, physically it is far removed from the population centers of Sydney and Melbourne. If the idea is to give the majority of your population access to the capital then one of these cities would make more sense, Clearly putting the capital in very remote Alice Springs would have made it inaccessible to most Australians. The decision then was Sydney or Melbourne, the two largest population centers in Australia. The answer is what I think I’ve observed over my 26 days in Oz- put the capital in between the two population centers- (Australia seems to be all about compromise). In all actuality. the decision to make Canberra the capital city has a lot of similarities with the US capital. Boston and Philadelphia were the population centers in the north while Richmond and Charlestown were the economic drivers in the south- thus the District of Columbia is located somewhat between them but in neither.

As a geography major I found it interesting that Canberra was one of the first geographically designed cities. Bids were received from around the world to plan the Capital - King O’Malley an Canadian/Amerian/Irish transplant was the local representative for the area and was in charge of selecting the designer. King O’Malley chose an American designer by the name of Griffin. Griffins design had a lot of geometrically shapes embedded into the layout. King O’Malley was accused of selecting Griffin because rumors were that O’Malley himself was actually born in America and he was partial. If he was from the states he would not have been eligible to hold the post that he did at the time. (see the pic)

Yes this is the same King O’Malley who’s pub was the first one I visited in Canberra.

When I get to Sydney I'll do a recap of the trip and close out the motorcycle portion of the Oz tour.

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