As the weekend got underway, it was time for us to move on from Melbourne to Canberrra, where Alison and I were visiting Mark and Sara, DC friends who are working for the US government in Australia's capital city. Our flight was around lunchtime, so we had a leisurely morning at the hotel before heading to the airport, which was a nice change of pace after a couple of early wake-ups. The flight to Canberra was uneventful, though notable for a few reasons:
- Alison and I got on the plane without ever once showing ID.
- I could have gotten through security screening with my half-full bottle of water, had I not preemptively tossed it, US-style.
- Sandwiches were provided (at no charge) along with beverages once we were in the air.
- We got off the plane using the stairs and walked to the terminal.
- Mark met us at the gate.
It was like we went back in time to 90s-style travel!
Canberra was experiencing a rare (but needed) rainy day when we arrived, so we ended up getting a bit of a driving tour through town before stopping in at the Southern Cross Yacht Club, where we had a beer and watched it rain sideways across Canberra's lake.
(BTW, if you now have the old CSN song "Southern Cross" stuck in your head, all I can say is... Welcome to my world.)
We finished off Saturday with a rainy walk over to a neighborhood Italian restaurant, where we had a delicious dinner for Mark's birthday.
Sunday we were back off to an early start for the drive to the Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve to see some of Australia's animals running around in (mostly) their natural habitats, which was much more pleasant than the petting zoo experience we had earlier in the week.
We saw heaps of kangaroos:
And eight (!) koalas -- though not all of them are in these pictures.
The reason the koalas are in an enclosure, rather than fully out in the wild, is because they are not native to the Canberra area, but rather are at Tidbinbilla because they are endangered.
In the afternoon, we headed to the town of Bungendore -- or Dumbledore, as Alison kept calling it -- for brunch, which featured delicious apricot scones the size of my head. There was also a giant kewpie doll from the 2000 Olympics closing ceremony on display at the local antiques shop:
We spent the rest of the day popping in and out of the little wineries that dot the countryside, sampling all sorts of wines... All of which made me sad that Yellow Tail is everywhere in the US and these tiny outfits are not, because the wine is far, far better.
Which brings us to today, which can be summed up in one word: beach.
(This is Malua Bay Beach, which is about two hours from Canberra.)