Capital connection

Wednesday 5th November 2014   Day 58

This was to be another long day, travelling to Bateman’s Bay via Canberra plus sneaking a look at the Snowy Mountains. We were away just after 8.00 am and headed for the viewpoint at Charlotte Pass in the Kosciuszko National Park. We were to be there only a short time, but had to pay $16 for a day pass into the park.

The drive took 40 minutes and we were soon standing in the blustery wind at 1835 metres, enjoying the views of the peaks stretching from Mount Kosciusko, Australia’s highest mountain. The contorted snow gum trees nestling onto fractured rocky outcrops and counterpointed by snow patches created beautiful vistas, although it was a trifle too cold to linger longer than a few minutes.

From the pass, the location of Australia’s highest village (a tourist resort), we retraced our steps down the headwaters of the Snowy River, to Lake Jindabyne, overlooked by an impressive concrete surge tower, part of the HEP works. We crossed the dam which created the reservoir with its impressive water plume emanating from the outflow of the turbines.

Our route now took us northwards towards Canberra, initially retracing our steps to Cooma, through the grassland landscape with its rounded granite boulders. We had planned to stop at the Pancake café in Bredbo, but were thwarted as it was closed on Wednesdays. We settled for a nearby café advertising a gourmet experience, which was not observed, in a shed with hessian covering inside the roof.

We were in Canberra by 12.15 pm and were amazed to find 3 hours free parking in the car park actually beneath the new Parliament building, security was covert and unobtrusive!! We admired the structure from outside before heading towards the city on foot, along the pavementless side of a freeway, until we found a sidewalk. We had seen the Canberra museum and art gallery on our map but changed our objective when we spotted the sign to the National Gallery. We had an enjoyable 90 minutes exploring its collection of aboriginal and Australian paintings and sculpture before returning to the car via the national rose garden and the old parliament gardens, past the old parliament building. We had chosen the right time to visit, the roses were in full bloom and offered an extensive range of varieties and colours. The garden also had a memorial time line of women’s emancipation and political progress.

It was now 3.00 pm so we decided to push on to our night’s abode, still 2 hours away and headed south across a gently rolling landscape, with stands of timber. Evidence of wildlife continued to be corpses of kangaroos, we still have to experience a close up sighting of a real one. The drive was enlivened by safety sign spotting, a feature of all our drives thus far, including gems such as “drowsy drivers die” and exhortations to ‘stop, revive, survive’ and ‘sleepy? take a powernap’.

The last part of the drive on the King’s Highway was an exhilarating 10 kilometre descent from the tablelands to the coast from the Clyde Mountain pass. This consisted of very steep, tight bends and Eric enjoyed navigating the road in the automatic drive Ford Falcon. We had been upgraded from a compact car as Hertz needed the vehicle returned to Sydney and Eric also enjoyed the reversing camera feature. In contrast Joyce found the passenger seat incredibly uncomfortable and, after lying awake with pains down her leg last night, travelled in the back seat today, having a much more comfortable journey.

Our motel in Bateman Bay was right on the water, with a good view of the harbour, from our balcony. After stopping, reviving and surviving we walked to the nearby retail street where after consideration of the culinary delights on offer from the casino pub to the takeaway we chose a small gourmet restaurant where we enjoyed duck and steak before retiring for the night.

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