I’m back at work since last Friday after having had a week off around Anzac Day, the day you could read all about in my previous blog. On that day, I really wanted to be in Canberra, but as I had worked some extra days and weekends on the farm, the manager agreed to give me a whole week off as compensation for that. So instead of just the Friday before Anzac Day, I got seven days to spend in this capital city. Seven days during which I thought I’d do many things, but turned out not to have enough time for it all.
On my list were: the Anzac Day ceremonies, cycling around the Lake Burley Griffin again but filming it this time, walking to the top of both Black Mountain (with the Telstra Tower) and Mount Ainslie (right behind the War Memorial) and visiting some of the museums: the Australian War Memorial, the National Museum of Australia, the National Portrait Gallery, the Old Parliament House and the Parliament House. I didn’t get to do the cycling tour and the last three of the formentioned museums, mainly because in the mornings I too often decided to ignore my alarm clock and thus chose rest over exploring.
I had arrived in Canberra on the eve of Friday April 24th, rested on that Friday, went to the Anzac Day ceremonies on Saturday, slept in on Sunday and then started planning. Those plans constantly changed because I spent too much time doing the things I did, but as I’m working quite close to Canberra I can hopefully still make up for that and go and visit the remaining things on my list.
First on my agenda was the Australian War Memorial. Just like every other museum in Canberra (except for Questacon – 23$ and the Old Parliament House – 2$), it is free to visit. The guided tours of the AWM are free as well and take either thirty, sixty or ninety minutes. I want for that last option, but that one and a half hour just isn’t enough to properly visit it all. In those 90 minutes, you stop at a select number of things, learn about some anecdotes, but still miss a lot. This museum is really big and even with the extra hour I spent in there after the guided tour (until closing time), I still haven’t seen it all. I’ll have to come back one day..
The National Museum of Australia took more time to visit than expected as well. I visited it on my last day in Canberra, without a guide. I had been told you could do it in two hours but I ended up spending a little over four hours in there.. It’s an equally nice museum, giving a really good insight in the Aussie history and lifestyle, including proper attention the history of the indigenous Australians.
Two other days were spent walking and hiking to the top of Canberra’s best known mountains. Each mountain climb took about half an hour of walking, rewarding me with a great view from the top. I personally preferred the amazing view from the Telstra Tower on top of Black Mountain to the view from Mount Ainslie, but the latter one had the nicest walk in my opinion, with the Kokoda Track going from right behind the War Memorial to the top. By the way, as I had walked down from Black Mountain, I spotted a kangaroo right next to the highway.. Pretty amazing to see one of those in the middle of a capital city..
Anyway, I had an interesting one week holiday, that’s a fact. And as Allan (‘Al’) also had some time off to go gold prospecting, Brad had to manage the farm on his own while we were away. On his own, yes, because the two other backpackers that had arrived earlier in April – Steven and Pieter – had left right before my trip to Canberra. Well, left.. They were asked to leave as their behaviour hadn’t met the expectations of the farm. Racing across the farmlands with the ute and the dirt bikes isn’t exactly the mature thing to do when it’s other peoples vehicles you’re using without asking for permission… But anyway, I am still on the farm, and I’ve been told that I’m doing ok and people speak highly of me. Always nice to hear. Yes, I am completely unexperienced and I still feel pretty useless at times for some jobs, but at least I happen to have the right attitude and respect the tools I’m using and the people I’m working with..
So am I different than other backpackers then? I don’t know, but I sometimes feel like I am. I am a backpacker in the sense that I’m travelling around with a backpack and have been living out of it for several months already, but that’s the only thing that makes me feel like a backpacker. Now I’m not generalizing of course, but a lot of the other backpackers I’ve met are – as I’ve stated before – “travelling” to go out, to spend their money on alcohol and drugs and to cheat on their girl-/boyfriends as much as possible. Me, I’m travelling to meet people, to discover new things, to learn, to experience. During my time in Canberra, I didn’t do any of the “backpacking” things. I instead learnt about Australian history, talked to the people standing next to me for the Anzac Day ceremonies, went hiking, and so on. “Backpackers” seem to be here just to have fun, while I want to experience.. But those experiences for me ARE the fun. I personally don’t see the fun in people travelling to Australia and going back home six months later after having spent that time just in Sydney, just drinking and going out. What’s the point? I don’t see it..
Is it my age? The way I was raised? My character? No idea. I only know that I don’t feel like a backpacker. Maybe I’m just a loner and maybe the fact that I never really was a very social person (now more than I used to be though) is why I have different interests. In any case, I’d rather consider myself a traveler than a backpacker. Someone who seeks adventure and experiences and wants to keep on learning. I hope that that’s what I’m doing right now and that I can continue doing so. I jost still don’t really know how.. What is the next step I will take? I still don’t know. I’ve got at least five-six more weeks left here, working at Gidleigh Station and the restaurant of the Lake George Hotel, but I still have no idea what I will do after that, before returning to Belgium for I don’t know how long..