Thursday, 15 March 2012
Canberra to Braidwood
After the rest I was in fine spirits and really enjoyed meandering along the many bike paths by the lakes and through woodland. There were cyclists, joggers and pedestrians aplenty, and the infra structure (picnic spots, maps, signs, water fountains) is fantastic. It has to be said, however, as it's a modern, planned city, Canberra is a bit squeaky clean and characterless. On to main roads heading east to Queanbeyan, but even here there were wide bike lanes - as wide as a car lane. Beyond the suburbs the road was horrendous though, without a hard shoulder a lot of the time. The King's Highway is the main road to the coast and has a single lane; which explains the number of accidents - five dead in collisions last weekend alone. Grew a bit disenchanted with scrub and gum trees, then right on cue I dropped down to a lush, green valley, fringed by rolling hills, bristling with deciduous trees, cattle and their appealing aroma. Have to keep stopping, to cool off more than anything else. One difference I've noticed in New South Wales is the increase in road kill; every few hundred yards a fresh, rotting or stripped bare carcase litters the edges of the roads. There was a turn-off called Foxs Elbow Road and on all four signs baring this name someone had very neatly drawn the missing apostrophe.
Braidwood is a nice, old mining town, which is soon to become one again so I was informed. It has a Deep South feel to it with pavements under balconies and crumbly, filigree woodwork. This country so often makes me think of the US and I wonder why it doesn't seem to have it's own identity. It's like Britain without the culture or America without the chutzpah. The wildlife are quintessentially of this land, so why do its people and places seem to be hovering in the ether? I'm searching for the soul of Australia and I'll let you know if/when I find it.
I alighted at Torpy's Eco Hotel, run by a Devonian with an obsession for solar power. He was cooking a chicken by solar-powered LED light and his solar-powered LED lightbulbs were only 5 watts and seemed very bright. He even had solar-powered LED lights underneath the peak of his cap. As a sweaty, shabbily dressed cyclist I think he took pity on me and gave me a 50% discount. It was still $70 for a frilly, florid and grandiose room with wrought iron bedsteads, walnut furniture, etcetra. Andy waxed lyrical about England in his West Country brogue and how he would rather live there, even though he's been here 15 years, and how, compared to the chaotic bureaucracy of this country, there was a reason Britain had that adjective begining with G placed before it. When I told him about my blog he asked me to promote his business and when I said I would dine at the restaurant next door, he asked me to complain to the owner about the inadequate sign pointing to his hotel down a side road. I said that I would, but when looking at the extortionate prices on the menu outside, stole away to the pub. It was pretty pricey here too, although at least it had a rustic charm and friendly atmosphere, especially the waitress and the lady who ran it, who at 31, owned two pubs and discussed her beer with passion and conviction. Drank two schooners (3/4 pint) on her recommendation, and after litres of water which never quite satisfy one's thirst, cold, gold, foaming beer certainly does the job.