Saturday, August 14, 2010

Day 57: Completing the loop: 1 May - 9 August

It was a stunning but freezing morning when we woke up in Canberra. The temperature was minus 2 degrees C! Look at the ice on poor Helga: We had a quick breakfast and then Dick led the way for the Hubbard-tour of Canberra (abbreviated). I kind of lost track of all the different routes because as well as riding in an unfamiliar town, it was still rush-hour Monday morning traffic. Anyway eventually we wound up at the House of Parliament and parked illegally on a corner so we could take some photos. I don't know if you have read Garth's blog (http://garthonwalkabout.blogspot.com/2010/06/14610-cann-river-to-sydney-604km-total.html) but we had an almost identical experience to the one he wrote about. We had only been there for a few minutes when a Australian Federated Police person rode down to us on a pushbike, complete with Glock, handcuffs and radio. (The police-person that is, not the pushbike.) Hullo we thought (or hullo, hullo, hullo) we're going to be moved on for illegal parking. But no, nothing like it. he had come down to look at the bikes. When he realised that we were kiwis and on the last leg of a circumnavigation of Orstralia his enthusiasm turned positively gushing. He is a biker (can't remember what now) and this trip is on his bucket list.

Then his mate came down and all four of us stood in front of the mother of all-Ostralian parliaments talking bikes and biking. While chatting I mentioned that we had been told the section of road from Cooma to Canberra was supposed to be "over-policed" but that we had only seen two patrol cars. "Oh don't worry," he said. "They'd be there all right, hiding up little sideroads. The bastards!" Hmmmmmm

We then headed off to the National War Memorial to have a look at the exhibits there. We arrived at about 9.15 and, as the museum didn't open till 10am, took some time to wander around and have a coffee. If you haven't been to the War Memorial in Canberra I highly recommend it. It is a little jingoistic in parts but they have made a real effort to tell the ordinary stories of ordinary men and women in the various wars that Orstralians have been involved in from the Boer War to Afghanistan. In particular the dioramas depicting First World War scenes are chilling. Quite amazing. The only niggle we had was that in the so-called "ANZAC Hall" there was absolutely no representation of New Zealand.

At around 11am we headed out of Canberra and onto the Federal and then the Hume Highway heading for Sydney. A pretty uneventful trip really of some 300kms of three-lane motorway. I guess we just kind of settled into the groove and got on with it.

Arriving in Sydney Dick made good his promise to take me across the harbour bridge. To do that however, we first had to go through the Harbour Tunnel. I am sure this is a doddle in a car but in was quite unnerving on the bike. Very hot and claustrophobic with sudden gusts of chilled air from time to time to make the bike rock. The Harbour Bridge itself was a bit of an anticlimax basically because you were so busy riding and watching out for the traffic that you didn't have time for the view. We also had to pay tolls twice - and I'm not sure for what!

From there we went to Milson Point for the "official" end point of the tour. It is fair to say that we were pretty stoked at this point. As the photos show!
From there it was - in theory at least - a straightforward run to Ruth's terrace house in Paddington. Somehow however we wound up back on another toll road. Bugger - neither of us had any money so we just drove through on the electronic toll road. As we didn't have a transponder this would have meant that our numberplates will have been photographed and a "special" toll will be on its way. I wonder if we'll ever get it? Then we wound up riding up George Street, one of the main streets in Sydney, absolutely choked with traffic. It was not great fun, especially as the GPS kept trying to send us the wrong way up one-way streets. Eventually however we arrived at Ruth's.

We got ourselves unpacked, took Ruth out for dinner at a local Austrian restaurant and then I crashed. A big day tomorrow: get the bikes cleaned, get them over to the shipping depot, set up on their pallets and strapped down ready for the Customs-person.

Another great day.

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