Broken Bay Writers – Stories of NSW Central Coast and beyond

Scribbles on life, the universe and everything… Woy Woy, Ettalong, Umina and teh Central Coast that is!

Sex Shops, Snakes and Waterless Lakes!


The waterless lake!

The waterless lake!

I am sitting in a restaurant in Australia’s 8th largest city, Canberra, Australia’s national capital.  It is a crisp, clear July day.  It can get quite cold here in Canberra, with average winter temperatures dropping to -2 degrees.

Canberra is a lovely “planned” city built in a circular fashion with lots of green space. There are plenty of museums to visit as well as some funky suburbs such as Fyshwick where you will find plenty of adult toy stores more commonly known as sex shops. I am not in Fyshwich though (surprise), I am in a coffee shop in Kingston. Kingston is a small shopping district near the centre of Canberra. Every time I am here I find something cute to buy. The shops are funky and at this time of the year the sales are great. I found a little book store with all books on sale. $12 for a hardcover, $8 for softcover. Gotta love a good sale.

It is about a 4 hour drive to Canberra from Ettalong Beach. It is a pleasant drive. We pass wineries (okay, we rarely pass them without stopping in, check out www.leridaestate.com, yummy) and the infamous Lake George (one of the oldest lakes in the world), which never ceases to amaze me.

One drives by the signs saying Lake George, but all you can see is land, pastures (called paddocks here in Oz) and cows grazing. How can cows graze in a lake?  Why call it a lake if there is no water to be seen? That’s the crazy thing, Lake George does fill with water every 50 years or so. In fact in 1956 five people drowned in the lake. Apparently it can get quite windy and choppy and is known (at times)to be dangerous  waters. Even weirder, they still don’t know exactly how and why Lake George fills with water or empties out. The last time the lake dried out was in 2002 and remains dry to this day. They do know that the lake will fill again and when it does it will be  about 25 km long and 10 km wide with an average depth of 1.5-4.5 meters. It will be salty, almost as salty as the ocean. The lake also has the tendency for strong winds (hence the danger) causing the water to blow back on itself. This has resulted in filling and drying episodes that can last hours or years!

The drive has long distances in between  pit (washroom) stops. Therefore Australia (like Canada) has rest areas with washroom facilities. The difference between Australia and Canada can be seen in the pictures below.

Beware of snakes

Beware of snakes

The path to the dunny!

The path to the dunny

You are warned to watch for snakes. The warning signs must be for tourists because every Australian knows to watch for snakes everywhere they go.  Australians also know to lift the toilet seat when in an outhouse to make sure there isn’t a redback spider under it. Rest assured I have never used one of these pit stops! I am more than happy to stop at McDonald’s to use the toilet. If you are a tourist, here’s a tip for you don’t ask where the washroom or restroom is. The only answer you will get to that is a blank stare. You have to ask where the toilets are (or a dunny). I am still learning this lesson. On the upside, McDonalds here in Oz has McCafes. These Cafes are very much like a Starbucks, but with good coffee. I am amazed that McDonalds hasn’t caught on to the popularity of these cafes and introduced them in Canada!

This trip is coming to an end. We leave Canberra at about 5:30 for the long trip home. I will use the toilet before I leave and silently curse the late departure. Dam it the wineries are going to be closed!

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