Whenever we would hop into the car, Eli would pipe up and ask “Are we going to the big place?” As I was planning our trip, I had shown him photos of the towering curved building in the center of Canberra that had a pool and tennis court and since that time he had been counting down until he could revel in these wonders.
We learned from our previous mistakes and left early this time, managing to arrive at BreakFree Centrepoint around 1pm. Thankfully, our room was ready and we eagerly crammed ourselves and our luggage into the lift and headed up to the seventh floor. After spending two nights in very close quarters we were delighted to find a long apartment with thick walled bedrooms and our very own balcony overlooking the much anticipated pool. The boys were very excited, Hudson announcing to everyone in the lift that it was his birthday (it wasn’t) and “my go to Kinder!” (he doesn’t). Eli played the role of superior elder brother flawlessly, raising one eyebrow in a skeptical look to contradict him.
Revelling in being in a central location, we decided to hit the ground walking and investigated the two funky cafes opposite our building, Mocan & Green Grout quickly becoming our local for a double shot latte and Twenty One for gourmet groceries and sweet treats. We loaded up on regional ‘Amara’ wine, olives and Milano salami and traipsed back to our apartment for an indoor picnic.
I was relieved to see that there was an Aldi in Canberra Centre and we went for a drive that afternoon. Let’s just say I never want to return to that shopping center again. Twenty minutes later I emerged from the confusing complex, having familiarised myself with pretty much every elevator and stairwell, but with absolutely nothing to show for it. The worst part is that I could see my destination from the top level but could not figure out how the hell to get there! Dave was skeptical that it could be that difficult and made plans to return the next morning to conquer the challenge, but we ended up changing our route at the last minute so he’ll never know!
Having left without anything even remotely resembling dinner, we had to think on the fly, settling on the option being loudly and insistently repeated from the backseat- ‘CHICKEN NUGGETS!’. After navigating our way to two different McDonalds that did not have drive thru, we eventually found one and made it home with five tired and grumpy passengers. Eli had been dressed in anticipation for a pool excursion, so Dave took him down just before bedtime for a quick dip. Hudson and I watched them and called out to them from our balcony for a while but then all hell broke loose upstairs. In short, there were not enough hands, not enough wipes and not enough patience for untimely bowel movements mixed with bath time. Bedtime was a very welcome event that evening.
We made our way to Questacon bright and early the next morning, having discovered we could get free tickets on our Museum Victoria membership. It was amazing! The kids more or less wandered through the galleries, but a number of interactive exhibits could have entertained them for hours. The Mini Q discovery center on the ground level was incredible, with a mini bakery, hospital, mechanic, and construction zone, a jungle gym, water play area and space discovery station. Even Ivy was entertained with the padded baby zones for her to explore. The difficult part was convincing the kids that we had to leave because our session had come to an end. That they were ‘not impressed’ is something of an understatement.
That afternoon we made the most of the heated outdoor pool, Dave like a magnet with two clinging boys hanging tight to either side. Ivy and I relaxed on a banana lounge, watching the splashing and fun with (shivering and) amusement. Dinner that evening was a frozen pizza affair, with strawberry cheesecake and fresh fruit on the side.
A number of times throughout the city stint, Dave expressed his keen affection for Canberra. I think it was a combination of the rural setting, the relaxed inhabitants, the hipster coffee spots, the myriad of bike paths and the air of something important happening close by. Street signs that pointed to federation and imposing structures that loomed overhead, demanding respect and attention. I doubt very much that we will be moving to this tiny metropolis, but it was quite evocative to gaze out at her twinkling lights in the evenings over a glass of Shiraz, imagining the stories that are being (and have been) created in this very place.