24 March 2019
The Visitors’ Centre at Parliament House opens at 9:00 am. Individual tours cannot be booked ahead and as they are limited to forty and offered on a first come first serve basis, I felt I needed to be there no later than 8:30.
Helped by Ingrid who took me right into the underground public carpark (free) I made my way up to the entrance to be confronted with some hundreds of Asian tourists. I seemed to be on my lonesome and wondered how I could possibly compete with this lot. The doors opened on the dot of nine and I was almost first through for the airline type screening before being able to make my way to the Visitors’ Centre.
I must have looked concerned as an elderly gentleman with the look of a helper asked could he help. I said yes, I was hoping to join the 9:30 am tour but felt that I might be outnumbered. He said you are the first one to register for it as the groups have their own separate tours, and that the best thing I could do was to go up to the Café and enjoy a nice cup of coffee until 9:25.
And I did just that – and a beautiful large caramel latté went down a treat.
By 9:25 am there were no more than twelve of us, all properly badged, to be guided by Eric, the kindly gentleman who allayed my fears of missing out.
It was an excellent tour and Eric was an excellent guide. It is a magnificent building both inside and out and the Australian timbers used so extensively fit the décor of the building beautifully.
Eric gave us a sort of potted history of the House and its predecessor as well as a briefing on the workings and rituals adopted from the Westminster system but in a thoughtfully un-patronising way.
I enjoyed it thoroughly and am glad I postponed my departure so I could do it.
Although, as a non-sitting day, photography was not restricted in any way at all, I limited myself to only one. And here it is, a portion of the huge tapestry that hangs in the Great Hall, based on a painting by Arthur Boyd. I found it very appealing perhaps because I’ve become more Australian bush conscious. Certainly, it is very like some of what I have seen on my trek.
The tour itself lasted a little over an hour and I wandered about for perhaps another half, some of which was taken up waiting for a group to leave the Great Hall so that I could take my tapestry photo.
In much the same way as Ingrid had helped me through and out of Melbourne, she did so again out of Canberra. For whatever reason, there are no signs pointing to Sydney, or at least I saw none, but she got us out and onto the Hume Highway again, in what seemed like no time at all.
I complained about Hume Highway yesterday, but I believe the Canberra Sydney bit is about as boring as it gets.
I made a comfort stop, coffee break at the Service Centre at Marulan just north of Goulburn but couldn’t get back on the road fast enough. The traffic was heavy but being a Sunday there were, thank goodness, few if any trucks.
I checked into MGSM just after 3:00 pm and, thanks to Susanne, this time scored my old balcony room overlooking the lake. It was 30° on my arrival and I’m sure the closed-up room was closer to 35°. Thank goodness for air-conditioning. The restaurant here is closed on Sundays, as are two of my other favourites the Mediterranean and Basil’s in nearby Trafalgar Place.
So, on the recommendation of the young fellow at Reception I drove down to Macquarie Centre and tried one of “Grill’d’s” purportedly to die for hamburgers.
It may have been for him but not for me. The patty had the truly char-grilled look and flavour and was nice enough, but the bun had a soggy bottom and the lettuce and tomato were past their best. But it was what I wanted in the sense of fast-food and at $30.00 for the burger, chips and a glass of shiraz, it wasn’t bad value.
I have had much better at Mcdonalds and heaps much better at the Tuncurry Rock Pool Cafe. So I’m unlikely to be a return customer.
To mark this the final update of my Tasmanian Trek chronicles, I’ll finish what’s left in the bottle of McGuigan Red and “hit the hay”.
It’s been a wonderful journey, and I may do something similar again next year, perhaps Drake Village way.