Canberra and Floriade - Australia 7 October

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Flower Show - Floriade in the Australian Capital Territory - Canberra, Australia
Floriade is the annual flower show in Canberra. The last time we went to have a look at it we were stuck in a cheap Chinese tour bus that only gave us half an hour there, even though they advertised it as their special feature. 

This time we were going there for the October long weekend and were determined to enjoy ourselves.

This year's floral theme was Rock and Roll so, as I'm not that interested in flowers or music with lyrics, I was sure to enjoy it!

We caught the 6:50am Canberra XPT. The train was fully booked to the extent that people had seats booked twice. We had to get some help to get people out of our seats. They'd been double booked into other seats and had no where to sit. I thought it was pretty poor service of Countrylink to do that but I understand that it is a regular occurrence in the travel industry. Apparently 6 seats had been double booked and there were only 4 carriages.

Don't expect much from the onboard canteen. I saw on the menu that they sell red and white wine, coffee and magazines.
"Can I have a glass of red wine please?"
"Sorry, we don't sell that before midday" (The train arrives before midday!)
"How about a Sydney Morning Herald Newspaper?"
"We only sell a few magazines, Women's Day, Women's Weekly etc"
"Oh. Okay. Well, can I have a capuccino or a late? Hot Chocolate? Peppermint Tea?"
"We only sell plain coffee and tea" (I don't think we're in Sydney anymore, Toto)
"Okay. I'll have a piece of fruitcake then."
Definitely NOT Amtrak!

So, if you really want to eat or drink something you like, rather than suffer the small choices on the menu, I'd advise bringing your own food and drink with you. (So we went back to our chilli chicken, randang and rice) 

We got off the train on time and rushed to the taxi rank and grabbed a taxi from a nice driver who commented on my discussion regarding where the Prime Minister lives,  "John Howard thinks he's better than us because he lives in Kirribilli in Sydney rather than the lodge in Canberra." Um, well, having explored Canberra I can understand why he'd want to live in Sydney. It's nothing to do with being better than anyone. I've been to lots of cities around the world and I always come back to Sydney. But, of course, I never said that to the taxi driver. And he gave us a good trip there so I gave him a tip.

We stayed at City Walk Hotel on Mort Street. This is in a pedestrian only area with a few bus stops but the taxi driver kindly dropped us near the hotel anyway. I knew it might be a bit difficult for our friends to meet us later but the driver told us that cars can use the area after a certain time.

We went to our room and were not impressed to find that they had plumbers in today and the water to our onsuite was off! No water for a couple of hours. :(

So we fell asleep then later went downstairs for a quick lunch before our friends picked us up.

Our friends had lived in Canberra for several years and told us a few things about this city. We had a meal of Chicken and chips from Kingsleys? and some great conversation.

Canberra will remain the size that it is. Because it is both a city and a territory situated within NSW, if houses are built outside the designated Canberra border, then they're classed as being in NSW. So the area around Canberra continues to grow with new suburbs like Harrison and Ford (!!! Councillors do have a sense of humour) but there's no chance Canberra will be like Sydney. the Canberra suburbs are also divided by lots of bush, trees and roads, so it's a long walk between areas. While the original plan is for this to always remain this way, I doubt that will happen if Canberra suddenly becomes the place to be. (You never know what might happen in the next two hundred years)

Having lived in Sydney most of my life and enjoyed the fast pace and differences of living in a busy multicultural city (slow by international standards but fairly fast by Australian standards) I was very disappointed by Canberra. I had been there a couple of times before but not to look at coffee shops and shopping. The market in Canberra is small. There's barely anyone there and those that are, are tourists or visiting dignitaries. The rest work in the service and retail industries, and its a wonder how anyone can make any money. (Probably why Fyshwick is popular!)

So, having friends in Canberra is definitely a plus.

Afterwards we went back to our hotel room and crashed. 

As far as we could tell the city was dead. Admittedly this could be due to anyone leaving Canberra during the long weekend. But that wouldn't explain the sheer number of  'for lease' signs in empty shops. And the shops that were there only stayed open for a short time. Even the Canberra Times read like a suburban newspaper rather than a major city publication. Where was the international news?

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