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As PopGoesCanberra is well aware (but has sworn, on his laptop’s life, not to disclose), there is a tiny part of me, somewhere behind my left ventricle, which secretly misses Canberra. Yes, scoff if you like. Lay out your arguments with the giddy confidence of a jumped-up private school mock-mooter at the national finals. Play back to me secretly recorded audio-files of my own incessant whinging sessions. Remind me of that phrase I once uttered emphatically: Canberra is to a person’s soul what Facebook is to blogs like this one. (OK, so I never uttered that particular phrase, but I’m sure I thought it in your presence, PopGoesCanberra – that makes you an accessory [editor: what on earth are you on about?]). Let’s just say, from my Uncle Travelling Matt vantage point, there is something unique and enticing about the chance to visit the ACT – a chance I recently grabbed with both hands.
My facial reaction at receiving my e-itinerary
Mindful of the rights of landlocked states to protect their borders from unauthorised immigrants (whether arriving by rickety fishing boat along the Murrumbidgee River, or being smuggled in on a short-stay visa with a troupe of Ukrainian folk dancers), I tread carefully through customs control at Canberra International Airport, having hastily discarded the thirty kilograms of citrus product I’d brought with me to ward off scurvy. (it was going cheap at the Big Orange firesale, alright?) Let’s face it, the last thing I wanted was to draw attention to myself and end up on an episode of Border Security. We’ve all shuddered at those clips of innocent holidaymakers returning from the coast being approached outside petrol stations in Queanbeyan by DIAC officials posing as coyotes. So naturally, I was alarmed when a woman approached me clutching what appeared to be an over-sized clipboard. Of course, I had heard about the ruthless tactics employed by undercover Tourism ACT representatives, these ‘honey-pots’ posing as federal officials, wielding an array of coercive questioning powers and a dazzling knowledge of cold climate wines. The clip-board gave it all away, though. ‘Here on public service business’ I mumbled, eyes cast downwards in shame at the oxymoron I’d just uttered. And she let me pass.
The ultimate ruse: casual talk of botrytis and well-drained granite soils are familiar lead-in to a short period of detention for new arrivals to Canberra, often forced to fill out a survey before being allowed to go free.
Like any modern traveller, I was keen to blend in with the locals, and obtain the most authentic experience possible. So after meeting my travelling companion at the baggage carousel, we made our way immediately towards the largest, most uninviting building we could find and sat there, motionless, for most of the day. If the rights of landlocked states to protect their sedentary organisms extend to temporary visitors, we certainly enjoyed all the indulgences Jervis Bay has to offer. This unique juridical structure, I later learned, is the model (some jurists claim) for the laws now applicable in Summer Bay. These entail, of course, the right to summons a grand jury of twelve extras to the Diner to drink milkshakes. And the right to bare arms.
Spaghetti straps, complex woven hair arrangements, and cropped tees. All permitted items of female leisurewear in the liberal enclave of Summer Bay, known in legal circles as the ‘New Amsterdam of New Holland.’Fortunately, I had consulted my Wallpaper Guide to Canberra before leaving home, so I knew just where to go to experience the ambience and bustle of the ACT fine dining circuit. And, despite not having a reservation, my travelling companion and I were lucky enough to score a rickety stool at the Qantas Club at Canberra Airport, uncomfortably close to a woman with a Frente-sized clipboard, and flanked by a security detail of drug scenting cocker spaniels named ‘Lightning’ and ‘Dianne.’ And so, as we toasted the glorious Territory sunset, and considered moving outside to the spacious conditions of Gate Lounge Twelve, we truly agreed that if you never never know, you’ll never never go...
Scenes of casual, long sleeved elegance at Canberra’s exclusive Qantas Club, open 0515 to last departure. Located at Level 1, next to Gate 12. Reservations not required, provided you have a large clipboard, inappropriately sized laptop satchel, or festive lanyard.