Random Adventure #6 – Do Bureaucrats Dream of Eccentric Sheep?# Kambah, Australian Capital Territory

Last Updated on March 3, 2017 by Red Nomad OZ

Red and friends at Kambah

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

AND … not only is it now New Year’s Day – it’s Scenic Sunday!  Happy New Year – and check out other great Scenic Sunday posts from around the world!

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  1. Thank for being kind after I left some nonsense comment. The building was fashioned in the shape of a pyramid, and someone went to the trouble of designing the tip of it with obsidian like shiny glass. Supposedly makes it “authentic” as if it were built by the the same guild of craftsman who designed the pyramids.

  2. at least they got the composition of the tippy top of the pyramid correct (the degree of it’s opaqueness and obsidian like shine worn by rings that held onyx, are like that of officially endorsed or sanctioned by an authority of the industry)

  3. Okay. Big ‘X’ through that possible destination . . .
    Remind me to tell you about our hotel reservation for the hotel that wasn’t even open . . .

  4. @Kath – It’s pretty tricky to stay within budget in Canberra anyway, so may as well be either comfortable; or so fabulously uncomfortable it makes a good story!
    @Francisca – Haha, you’re right! My bad experiences now get the Red Nomad OZ treatment – it sure makes them easier for ME to bear!!!
    @Raphael&Yvonne – The sheep made it all worthwhile!!! HNY to you too!
    @Elisabeth – Why thank you! And yes, I know OZ doesn’t have the monopoly on dodgy accomodation!! I think nylon sheets beats no windows!!!
    @Adrianne – Welcome and thank you!

  5. @TMWH – Huh! Just can’t get used to that name change … and you’re right! ANYTHING could always be worse – now whenever I have a bad experience I think of it as blog-fodder!!!
    @SFlaGuy – Hey! Was wondering where you’d got to … I’m sure it’s your Dad’s payback for ‘driving’ them around … This all happened a few years ago, so my younger self thanks you!
    @Frankie G – Aha! I wondered if anyone paid my explanation any heed!! The # is in the title – which is an adaptation of PKD’s most well known short story – which became the even more well known movie ‘BladeRunner’!!

  6. @MJWC – The only thing to do in these circumsatances is laugh!! Happy New Year – and thanx for dropping by!
    @Aleah – Hey, don’t follow my lead! I’ve got a bit slack myself in recent times … maybe I better resolve to be more like me too!
    @Kim – Yeah, I guess it beats sub-zero! Thanx for dropping by again!
    @Friko – Cosy yes, but without the atmosphere you describe!!! But hey – I survived!!!
    @Sallie – No chance of forgetting the camera – I got a new one for Xmas!! Happy New Year!

  7. @icedgurl – HNY to you too!
    @Kalpana – Writing about it sure puts what could have been a scary experience into perspective! It’s actually a hoot!! Happy New Year, and thanx for the encouragement!
    @Rajesh – Thank you and same to you and your family!
    @RedRuby – Thanx! HNY to you too!
    @PDP – Hahaha! A cell, huh??!! Well, if it’s any consolation, this one felt like a prison!! HNY, and look forward to much more virtual visiting in 2012!

  8. What an extraordinary and wonderfully told story, Red, but I recognise the accommodation as a symbol of other places in Australia.

    Mind you, we stayed in a pretty dodgy boarding house once in Killarny Ireland, and although it did not boast fake sheep, it certainly became a tale to be told, right down to those awful nylon sheets.

  9. LOL! I rather relish surprises and experiences like this… fodder for great stories and memories! And the sheep are a perfect touch… Happy New Year!

  10. Hmmmm, sometimes the ‘No more than $85 per night for accommodation’ rules and regulations need to be broken!

  11. So, Red. What gives? You give an explanation at the end of your post by adding a *, a ** and a #. I had to trawl back through the post to find them. Found the * and found the ** but after several trawls and re reads could not find the #. Now this # is important to me because you dropped in the name of Phillip K Dick and an apology to him. As a once upon a time avid Science Fiction reader, the aforementioned PKD was on my list of preferred authors and I have not seen his name in many a year. I said once upon a time avid SF reader (note I did not use the vulgar Sci Fi terminology)because I only read SF when I can play swappies with other readers. Anyway, I digress. Where for the love of PKD is the #?

  12. I was going to write something about spending the holidays on the couch at my aged parents house in the spare bedroom. As always, you have me beat by a mile (or is it kilometer – never sure). You do look very nice in the photos. Thank goodness they are not your last (hopefully) and I’m glad you made it back out alive. I’m now thinking how just a sore back is nothing at all to complain about. My Dad did sneak a bottle of Jack in my bag to ease the pain. So thoughtful.

  13. You just have adventures wherever you go girl! Thanks for the smiles! And happy New Year — may it bring you more adventures (maybe more of the outback outdoors kind instead of this kind). And don’t forget your camera and thanks in advance for sharing ;>)

  14. Well, I suppose the accommodations could have been worse…and the sheep are quite fascinating, actually! Maybe if you ever get back there you can “dig up” the mystery?

  15. Sounds quite cosy to me, a bit like a nice old-fashioned English pub with rooms. They do have windows, but not necessarily the kind you can see through. But rickety beds? Easy1

  16. Happy New Year!!!
    As always, When I read your blog, I am amazed at your writing skills. You can recount things in such vivid detail, making it seem like I am there with you.

    I am not sure how I would of reacted to the half naked man knocking at my door. And he wanted an ironing board???? ReaLLY?? Hmmmmmmm…. I might have peed my pants laughing or pooped them out of fright. Not sure which.

    Happy New Year!!

  17. Oh there are windowless ‘hotels??’ like this in every country Red, I know because Aimee and I stayed in one in Rome, I think it used to be a monks cell haha! Brilliant post once again, looking forward to your many travel stories in 2012, here’s wishing you all the best for this coming year.

  18. Loved the way you described what must have been a less than comfy experience- and those striked-out words add to the flavour. It would make a great short story too in the tradition of Ray Bradbury and others [and of course Philip Dick,Murakami]. The way you cleverly use a number of image-loaded words ‘motel’ [thank god not THAT MOTEL?], ‘inn’ etc and the eccentric sheep, all the little incidents – delicious! Hope the conference went well and that you are basking in a more luxurious HAPPY NEW 2012!
    KalpanaS @ http://nowritehere.blogspot.com

  19. @Mark – Hideous? What do you mean?!?!?!?! HNY to you too – look forward to lots more virtual visiting!
    @Al – You’re right!! The great thing about reminiscing is the opportunity to edit!!
    @NixBlog – Haha, indeed they do!! Kind of appropriate, given River’s comment above about steel wool …
    @Emille – Welcome and thanx! Drop back anytime!!
    @Mrs Tuna – One of the greatest entertainments of all time is reading the overseas take on what we know and love in OZ! Bring it on!!!

  20. I did a paper this semester on Canberra. I could sent it too you if you want a little light reading for one of your potty stops.

    Have a happy new year!

  21. That’s quite the interesting story, I’m sure much more fun to look back on than it was to live through. Have a great 2012!

  22. LOL Red, just too funny on many levels. Those sheep are hideous!
    Happy New Year glad to have found your blog in 11 look forward to ongoing correspondence in 12!

  23. @Windsmoke – same to you, my friend!! Keep those jokes coming!
    @Magsx2 – Had forgotton all about them until I unearthed the pix during a clean up!!!
    @Liz D – I’m sure all the Canberra no-nos would fill a book!! Or at least a blog … welcome and thanx for dropping in!!
    @Kim – Welcome and thanx! Happy New Year!!
    @Carole – Thanx for dropping in! Plenty more laughs to be had in 2012!! Look forward to a virtual catch up!!
    @KB – The sheep made it all worthwhile!! Happy New Year!
    @Jayne – Hahaha!! We’ve got wool shedding sheep – perhaps these are steel wool shedding?? (Thanx to River for the thought above …)
    @Stewart – Haha! Never thought of that – but now you point it out, it IS weird!! Look forward to catching up (virtually) in 2012!

  24. @River – HAhahaha!! I never thought of steel wool as being HARVESTED!!!! No, it wasn’t exactly ‘fun’ – but it WAS an adventure!
    @Joan Elizabeth – I think nearly every Aussie must have a Canberra horror story!! Maybe they’d make a blog in their own right!!
    @Betty – Happy New Year to you too!! Look forward to more virtual visiting in 2012!
    @Andrew – Motherly??? Moi??!! And sharing a bed with one person’s enough for me!! HNY to you too – look forward to catching up more often in 2012!!
    @Ken G – Thank you so much! Same to you!!

  25. Hi there and happy New Year.

    I’ve been here the best part of 20 years and I still find the idea of a drive in bottle shop and road safety as a strange combination!

    Maybe you have to walk to this one!

    Stewart M – Melbourne

  26. As one of those ‘overpaid government bureacrat workers’ :o), I salute you – thank you for the warning ….. I now know to add the Kambah Inn to my list of ‘never go there unless at risk of serious torture’, which already includes as several other places in our wondrous capital. (However, nothing can compare with the motor inn, King St in Newcastle (I suspect it no longer exists and it’s name is certainly wiped from MY memory!)) Thankfully, Melbourne is flavour of the month at the moment, so I’m avoiding the dreaded fly infested home of politicians and public servants! Anyway, Happy New Year to you! Looking forward to seeing more of your travel tales!

  27. LOL
    I love your posts 🙂
    Those sheepies are great, but I bet they’re a biatch to shear 😛
    Happy 2012, Red and Pilchard xxx

  28. ‘I’m not sure what the buff stacked muscular young man,’. You should have been motherly and offered to do his ironing for him, or just jumped him. Lucky that now with the internet you can check out places minutely. Happy 2012 Red.

  29. Well that’s a different take on squeaking clean Canberra. Reminds me of my arrival in the 70s when I was put in in some out of the way motel until a room in a government hostel came up. And yes that taxi queue is horrendous, I hated business trips to Canberra because of that queue.

    Happy New Year … it has been great to discover your blog in 2011. Looking forward to your stories in 2012.

  30. Ummm, a bottle shop, a dinky room with no windows, sharing a bed….doesn’t sound like fun to me. At least the “sheep” were friendly.
    Hey! Now I know where steel wool comes from!

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