So, if you tell a Canberran that you think their city is beautiful and that you’re having a great time exploring it, they will undoubtedly look at you askance, trying to ascertain if you’re being sarcastic or if you’re truly uncouth. This is because Canberra, while truly beautiful and friendly to modern human civilization, was a compromise. It’s the half-baby that the government decided to create to appease Melbourne and Sydney, who both felt they deserved capital-city status. And as such, the city was very deliberately planned, which is why it is such a pleasant city to visit. But no, it has no sordid history as a penal colony or seedy gold rush boom town, it doesn’t have victorian buildings, and it sure as hell doesn’t have quokkas. So everyone here has an inferiority complex about it.
On the way here, Nick got booted off the flight at the last minute amidst some kerfuffle with his cello. Nevermind that we bought a seat for the darn thing, “regulations” said it couldn’t be on board. So rather than crack the shits (as they say here), nice Nick just got off the only flight from Perth to Canberra that day. He got rerouted to Melbourne, spent the night, and then finally got into Canberra the next day. Thanks a lot, Qantas!!
We performed in the music building of the Australian National University, which also houses a brewery called the Wig and Pen. Now I don’t know about you, but my conservatory days would have been very different had there been a brewery in the building. Those Aussies have their priorities straight! We sauntered in after our 7pm performance to enjoy a few rounds of beer and a delicious meat pie or two. We were supposed to meet the US Ambassador there, but, well…TRUMP.
We didn’t have much free time to explore the city, but our wonderful handler Michelle (and I call her a handler because what are we but a bunch of circus animals anyway??) is from Canberra and was game to whiz us around in her big rented van to show us whatever we pointed at. We caught the sunset up on Mount Ainslie, drinking in the gorgeous city lights and pleasing layout of the city, then ate like kings at Chairman & Yip. We chased down some kangaroos, which are as plentiful here as deer (and equally plentiful as roadkill, sadly), and also snuck up to a roadsign to Yass* after dark and posed for a silly picture like a bunch of drunk hooligans. Yes, it was a sign that said “Yass” so we couldn’t not do it. But man, Michelle must really be questioning her job right now.