Chalk ‘n Cheese – the saga continues

PopGoesCanberra's professional photographer, Robyn, recently visited the nether regions of the Australian Capital Territory and surrounds with companion, Eugene...

Continuing on from the Woden Food Court, to the Deep Space Tracking Station, I felt like a small Siberian husky strapped into a satellite hurtling through the outer reaches of the universe, to a galaxy far, far away. But Tidbinbilla’s no place for a space traveler on empty stomach, so I was glad I’d packed the Pal chunks in jelly dog food, just to keep me going. Didn’t look much different to the stuff they feed the astronauts anyway.

It was a bit naïve, I suppose, to actually think that they’d let me have a seat at the console and a twiddle of the equipment. But hey, I’ve got a steady hand, I could be trusted with Voyager for a day – or even Mars Express. No such luck. This is about as close as you get to the action(Below).

One lap of the visitor’s centre later, and I was glad to see that even astronauts take group photos of themselves before they head off in their rockets. Pity there’s no Japanese astronauts amongst the group, sticking their fingers up in a ‘V’ behind each other’s helmets.

(Above)The final twelve: Australia, you decide who gets to come back

But even more intriguing was the glass case display of outfits worn by previous astronauts whilst gadding about in the outer reaches. Fortunately, there seems to be a dedicated wardrobe team on hand, so that everyone’s looking their best when the count-down’s over and it’s finally time for blast off.

It was also pleasing to find that the modern lady astronaut never lets her hair and make-up slip when she’s on a mission.

Getting from to know each other in the interplanetary sense is never a problem for these young bucks, as they cruise from first base to third in their convertible moon buggies.

Home renovations are high on every astronaut’s ‘to-do’ list: I bet Noni and the team from Better Homes & Gardens would have a fit if they saw the mess the Apollo team had made with their cladding (Below right).

And after a hard day rounding up all the chimps, mice and guinea pigs blasted off into space by well-meaning NASA scientists over the years, there’s always time to put up a flag or two.

If all this makes you hungry, just remember, they can pack more food into that café than you’d need to last you all the way from Earth to Mir.

But gaze at those dishes for long enough, and you’ll start to think about filling them with a family size paella. They must get good reception out there, too. I dare say you could pick up Triple MMM with that antenna.

After surveying this troubling scene, all I can say is: watch out stray space dogs of Canberra! Get yourself a licence and a muzzle or you’ll be bundled into a rocket and blasted off from Tidbinbilla. The scientists are getting ready for you as we speak, sewing tiny space suits and freeze-drying the meaty bites.

On the other hand, if you’re already bunkering down for the holocaust, and country driving’s more your thing (or you’re just sick and tired of being drag-raced up Mort street when all you’re trying to do is find a Caltex open on a Thursday night) then get along to the social whirl of down-town Gundaroo.

University entrance score not high enough? Not to worry, the Gundarro public library and literary institute is still taking enrolments for second semester.

While all you ANU graduates may scoff, and think the campus has seen better days, I think this particular state of the art facility should be enough to convince you that Canberra may not be all it’s cracked up to be over the summer, and that you should definitely relocate to the Yass valley to further your life education.

Dogs and all other ex-space-shuttle animals, please bring a plate.
See your careers counselor today!

Woden, the Evil Temptress

"How can I resist you?" ABBA said in their hit Mamma Mia. And in relation to Woden Plaza Shopping Centre, I can DEFINITELY give an answer to their question. "By thinking about how bloody awful you are. By thinking about my most recent Woden experience...."

Downtown Manuka has a distinct lack of Woolworths supermarkets. You see there is a Coles in Manuka, and Coles have really dodgy fresh produce. So I thought, how about I head down to Woden to the Woolworths there? I avoided the Woolworths at Dickson due to numerous horrible Dickson experiences.

The drive to Woden took longer than expected. It's a bloody long way. And Tuggeranong is even further than Woden. Imagine how long it would take to get there! [Left: A young woman stranded in Woden frantically re-enacts the new tATU video. "Help get me out of here!"]

I proceeded to park in the Car Park, indicated by a "P" sign. What a delight, I didn't have to pay! My excitement was soon reduced as I was informed by a woman escaping the Plaza that I should have driven around the other side of the Plaza, and that walking to Woolworths from where I had parked was a "shit way to go."

She was right. I had to cross the [lack of] ACTION bus interchange, where the infamous no. 38 bus starts its run towards Narrabundah College and beyond. I made speed to avoid run-ins with the sorts of people who take buses in Canberra. I reached the entrance of the plaza and was struck by a blast of hot air from one of those awful "air curtain" machines, as though I was literally walking into Southern Canberra Hell. [ABOVE: Irene from Home and Away spotted in Woden Plaza]

I made my way past closed up shops, their barriers down. Distantly I could see "da boiz" in the mobile phone shop having a little after work bonding session, and a lone Flight Centre woman slaving away trying to organise some helpless person's tour around Europe. Finally I reached Woolworths.

The aim of my trip to Woolworths was to buy some salmon. It was on special, you see. The "boy" who was, literally, a boy, came and served me. I said "I'd like a nice piece of salmon." He said "which one?" I said "you pick one, you're the expert." He said "I don't eat fish." [ABOVE: Customers at JB Hi-Fi Woden inspect the selection of car stereos on offer]

Grrrr. I hate these situations. He works serving fish all day and he doesn't eat fish. He said it was because he went to boarding school. Tough titties, or floppy fish, I don't care. It's like going to a bottle shop and the silly chick there doesn't drink wine. Fuck off!

I picked my own piece. My next move was to try to find a catalogue, as you do, to pick up anything else that was on special. Bad move. There was not a catalogue to be found in the store. I asked the chirpy Asian girl at the cigarette counter, who then put an older bloke and a bosomous short woman on to the case of finding me a catalogue. Ten minutes later, a lone catalogue was found from that infamous place, "out the back."

I proceeded to buy some pasta sauce. Done! Next, some mince to go with the pasta sauce. It was on special too :) But no, it wasn't to be. The premium beef mince that I wanted was not present in the fridge. I enquired. Tough titties again they said! Missing mince more like it! [ABOVE: Stunning selection of music on offer in Woden]

I was fuming. I stormed out of Woden Plaza, fearing that they may have locked me in. I'll be darned it, they had. I went out the "Emergency Exit Only" door. It was an emergency. I had to get out of that granite-floored, donut-king, K-Mart clothing smelling megalith. I zoomed out of the car-park towards my lakeside sanctuary, swearing never to return. My choice of car music was appropriate, Alizee's J'en ai marre.