How to fill up 3 weekends in Australia: Part 2, Easter weekend

Posted: March 30, 2008 in Uncategorized

The following weekend was Easter weekend, the single longest holiday in Australia for the weekday workers, since both Good Friday and the following Monday are national holidays. In the interest of making the most of my long holiday, I also opted to take off Tuesday, and since flying anywhere was looking extremely cost-prohibitive, especially after my recent track visit, I rented a car for the 5 days.

The first day was a great start. The preceding week, I had been invited by some of the local climbing gym staff to join a group out near Palm Beach for some outdoor climbing, something I still hadn’t done since I got here. Friday morning clouds loomed and rain sprinkled, but despite the rain and my lack of partner, and a conviction nobody would show in these conditions, I was going to go anyway dammit, gear and all, and at least check out the place for future reference. Luckily, people in fact turned out in force, and even gave up on the proposed BBQ to keep climbing, since the weather wasn’t much to bask in anyway, but made climbing very pleasant and cool. So I spent the afternoon bumming topropes on my first Sydney sandstone climbs, and came home completely happy I’d managed to finally get on some real rock.

Saturday I decided it was time to get some proper furniture, like a desk and bookshelves, and drove all over creation until I got what I needed. By the end of the day, my desk was set up and I was ready to game again. But tempting as it was to spend the rest of my vacation doing just that, I wasn’t done yet.

While climbing, a number of people had mentioned going to another local sport climbing destination called Nowra, located somewhere south of Sydney. Since one of my holiday plans was a road trip, I thought this would be as good a reason as any to make my road trip direction down the south coast, and perhaps even get yet more climbing in while I was at it. Sadly, two and a half hours of driving south and an hour of driving around the town of Nowra later, the brief snippets I knew about the climbing location came up empty, so I turned south again and kept going, tracing the coast to Bega, just above the southern border of the state. Being a small commercial town apparently good for its cheese manufacturing and little else, I checked in to a small motel, walked main street unsuccessfully looking for a bar that wasn’t solely occupied by career drunks, and opted to watch a Bruce Willis movie on TV in my room.

The next morning I turned inland, heading for the Snow Mountains, and for the novelty of it, Snowy River. During the winter, disconcertingly in July here, the “Snowies” are the local skiing/snowboarding destination although snow is apparently minimal at best. But despite the lack of snow and wild, untamed brumby herds waiting to be wrangled by charismatic lads on their mountain horses, I headed in and did a bit of “bushwalking”. Although the scenery wasn’t exactly spectacular, the one thing that was shocking about the mountains was the smell. Much like the Cascades in the height of summer have an almost overwhelming, heady smell of pines, the Snowies have an incredible smell of many things I couldn’t begin to identify. The closest I could equate the smell to is a recently flooded herbal tea shop. I felt healthier, invigorated, and anti-oxidized just by standing in it.

My final stop on the way back to Sydney was Canberra, national capitol of Australia and dominant city of, for some reason, its own state right in the middle of New South Wales. As everyone said when I told them I was going, it was really something I should see. This was immediately followed up by them telling me it was a very boring place, but in a very nice way. Now I definitely needed to see it.

Driving in, I knew immediately what everyone meant; the city was clearly designed to be serene, park-like, and suburban, and in the process, had put everyone to sleep. I barely saw a soul as I drove through, right up until I stopped at the national parliament building, which was full of the usual flocks of asian tour groups. The parliament building is, shall we say, a unique government structure. Built in 1988, it was apparently made to last 200 years, the side-effect of which was it now looks like it occupies a bunker built to fill a giant radio telescope. The circular, grass-covered sloping sides of the building sit atop a circular, grass-covered sloping hill, all of it topped by a giant metal flagpole made of several intersecting supports. I swear it looks like they’re doing deep space radio imagery inside. That is, right up until you walk inside, where you discover they were actually far too distracted picking horribly gaudy marble and hardwood color schemes to actually make the place functional. Add in some black and gold accents, and it’s how I would imagine the Columbian cartel would design a government building. But, the tour was entertaining and educational, and the staff were all extremely friendly and helpful, so I can’t make too much fun of it.

Leaving Canberra behind to an incoming downpour of rain, and after a rather uneventful drive home, apart from some rather unsurprising traffic snarls, I took the next and final day to return my well-traveled car, re-assemble my bike which had finally arrived, and take it into the shop after discovering the front derailleur had been somehow significantly mangled during quarantine inspection. To celebrate a successful weekend, I stayed in the rest of the day and blew things up on my computer.

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Comments
  1. konot says:

    so that’s where you’ve been
    wondered what you’ve been up to. must feel good to climb again. hard to believe you’ve been this long without video games. no judgement intended – I devoted a disgusting number of hours to an online mini-putt game yesterday. we need to get focused on the June Sydney trip.

  2. Anonymous says:

    so that’s where you’ve been

    wondered what you’ve been up to. must feel good to climb again. hard to believe you’ve been this long without video games. no judgement intended – I devoted a disgusting number of hours to an online mini-putt game yesterday. we need to get focused on the June Sydney trip.

  3. Anonymous says:

    re: climbing
    A couple of things to check out:
    1. http://www.sydneyclimbing.com/ – comprehensive online guide to climbing and bouldering in Sydney
    2. http://www.sydneyrockies.org.au/ – Sydney Rockclimbing Club (good place to find partners)
    3. the Blue Mts, west of Sydney. Organise a partner beforehand though – given the huge number of crags (and virtually infinite amount of rock) it can be hard to find other climbers “on spec”
    4. Mt Arapiles in Western Victoria (a real road trip – ~12 hrs drive from Sydney) – you won’t have problems finding a partner here – “the Pines” (the campsite at the Mt) is about as close to Camp 4 in Yosemite as Australia gets
    Happy climbing!

    • Reuben says:

      Re: climbing
      Sweet, thanks for the tips. I’ve already discovered the joy that is sydneyclimbing.com, and I’ve done some reading up on the Blues. I’ll certainly check out the others. Now it’s just a matter of getting my transportation and partners in order…

  4. Anonymous says:

    re: climbing

    A couple of things to check out:
    1. http://www.sydneyclimbing.com/ – comprehensive online guide to climbing and bouldering in Sydney
    2. http://www.sydneyrockies.org.au/ – Sydney Rockclimbing Club (good place to find partners)
    3. the Blue Mts, west of Sydney. Organise a partner beforehand though – given the huge number of crags (and virtually infinite amount of rock) it can be hard to find other climbers “on spec”
    4. Mt Arapiles in Western Victoria (a real road trip – ~12 hrs drive from Sydney) – you won’t have problems finding a partner here – “the Pines” (the campsite at the Mt) is about as close to Camp 4 in Yosemite as Australia gets

    Happy climbing!

    • Anonymous says:

      Re: climbing

      Sweet, thanks for the tips. I’ve already discovered the joy that is sydneyclimbing.com, and I’ve done some reading up on the Blues. I’ll certainly check out the others. Now it’s just a matter of getting my transportation and partners in order…

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