Travellers heading downunder don’t always consider the Australian Capital Territory’s Kambah as an alternative to more well known adventure destinations such as Uluru and the Great Barrier Reef.
Sure, overpaid bureaucratsgovernment workers and fat cats politicians form a disproportionately high percentage of OZ capital Canberra’s ~400,000 population, with champion drinkers students making up much of the balance, but why should this be a barrier to adventure?
But even I didn’t anticipate the high tension and thrill of meeting new challenges in what should have been a routine work conference held at the Kambah Club.
Canberra’s taxi-cab system, a masterclass in how to incorporate government immigration policy into a high-demand monopoly in a one-employer town meant waiting for a cab took almost as long as the flight. It also meant no one in the cab (3x interstate conference attendees + 1x cab driver) knew how to get to the Kambah Inn. Problem?
M finds our accomodation!
Familiarity with the intricacies of mission statements, butchers paper and political double-speak more than adequately equipped us – three monolingual conference veterans armed only with a street directory and destination address – for the challenge of successfully directing our new Australian driver through unfamiliar streets to our destination.
BUT … perhaps the nearby Kambah Inn’s significantly lower tariff on the list of nearby accommodation provided to interstate attendees should have been a clue. If it was, we failed to heed it – preferring to trust the organisers rather than do a bit of extra research. But, in our defence, it shouldn’t have made the list if it was dodgy. Should it?
Maybe ‘accommodation’ was a euphemism. Was the darkened building looming out of the carpark at the street address on our conference booking sheet REALLY where we’d booked in? It looked more like the Addams family mansion, or the Frankenstein house than a motel. Or a hotel. Or even an inn – at least not by cutesy standards involving signs preceded by ‘Ye Olde …’!
The glorious Kambah Inn!
It was a pub. While a little on the skanky side, it DID offer accommodation – if the minuscule sign above the bottle shop wasn’t false advertising. And although surrounded by complete darkness, a light glimmered from within. Within nanoseconds of paying, our cab screamed ecstatically into the night towards its next victim passenger. And we entered the Kambah Inn.
The manager’s displeasure at our late arrival demonstrated a deep-seated misunderstanding of the Canberra cab situation. Or perhaps the Inn’s customers usually arrived by alternative methods of transport? Like hearses or Black Marias. He led us past the walk-in freezer (freezer??) into his ‘office’ to ‘check-in’.
M finds fun at Kambah, Australian Capital Territory
Was it an error of judgement to a) enter a darkened pub without witnesses; b) allow ourselves to be lured into its depths; or c) pay with cash?
Nah! But this WAS the kind of experience better shared with others.
SEVERAL others …
Red and Lollipop – the good sheep!!
The twin novelties of sleeping in a room without windows and sharing a bed with my friend and work colleague, M – at her suggestion once the dodgy fold out ‘twin share’ spare was found wanting – made a salacious little story the next morning for our boss!! AND … I’m not sure what the buffstacked muscular young man, with a towel draping his otherwise naked body was REALLY looking for when he knocked on our door asking for the ironing board – but it almost made up for the lack of windows.
Later, at the conference, M and I exchanged pleasantries with a couple of local attendees, as you do. It’s called networking. Or, in the real world, chatting. Take your pick.
‘Where are you staying?’ they enquired.
Sheep may safely graze …
‘The Kambah Inn,’ we replied, wondering how many others had fallen into the ‘cheapest and closest’ trap. The Inn’s mention seemed to kill the conversation stone dead and silence spread around us.
‘Why?’ one finally ventured, visibly flinching as she exchanged glances with her colleague. ‘Huh,’ said the other one. ‘Just as well it’s not Thursday night.’
‘Yeah,’ the other one piped up. ‘They’ve got live music that night. It apparently goes quite late.’
Of course their reaction and revelations demanded that we record our Kambah adventure as a warning for posterity. And now, as keeper of the pix M and I took with the disposable camera we bought AND as blogger extraordinaire*, Kambah’s place in the Aussie adventure destination** pantheon must surely now be assured.
M finds room at the inn … where are the windows??!!
And we’re still not sure why Kambah is surrounded by fake eccentric sheep – it certainly doesn’t need any more surrealism – but they fit right in, don’t they?!?!
What better time to recount these recollections than on that traditional day for reminiscence and reflection – New Years Eve! Thank you to all my wonderful readers, commenters, subscribers and drop-ins – it’s SO nice to know my words aren’t dropping into a black hole …
I’ll be visiting you in return starting ASAP now that my unforeseen and unexpected personal issues are out of the way! See you then!!
*By my own definition
** Unless everything’s changed in the several years since these events unfolded … # Apologies to Philip K. Dick