There’s probably an art to roadtripping and proper ways of doing it, perhaps with an accompanying set of commandments: Thou shalt always have a full thermos before setting off, or, Thou shalt not pack on the morning of thy departure. But when it comes to Failboats and roadtripping (which happens to be one of our favourite pastimes) our approach is to take it as it comes. The most important part is to have a destination and a kitty for expenses; we make up everything else in between.
Before I headed to the bay with the Melbourne Failboats, there was a great convergence of all Failboats in Canberra for the wedding of the Failboat known as Jen. We came from Melbourne, Perth and Sydney and we even granted The Chef with honourary Failboats status for the course of the extra-long weekend.
The Chef and I headed off a day early, stopping over at the parents’ place in Beechworth, which is sort-of the half-way point. By the second day, everyone was on the road, sending updates and speculating on who’d reach Canberra first. Our start from Beechworth granted us somewhat of a lead over the Failboats who were departing from Melbourne that morning, but by lunchtime, we seemed quite close to each other. (This may have had something to do with a morning spent perusing the op shops of Wodonga, where I happened upon The One.)
Our very late lunch stop was in Gundagai. I’d always wanted to go to the actual town rather than the more popular roadside stop with the famous Dog on the Tuckerbox statue and it was well worth the detour. The town itself is utterly gorgeous but I was even more captivated by the derelict wooden bridges stretching across the vast paddocks. I spent a good quarter of an hour or so taking photographs of these and encountered at least two others doing exactly the same.
Despite this detour, we pulled ahead of the other Melburnites and reached the outskirts of Canberra well in advance of them. Since Clare had already arrived in the nation’s capital, we made contact with her and arranged to meet up at our accommodation.
Now that was something. We’d booked reasonably late but the cabin had looked quite spacious on the website. In person, it felt crowded with just three of us standing in the main area. One of the bedrooms barely had space for the bed and if you wanted to walk around the bed, you had to shut the door first. The other bedroom was packed full of bunks and had space for very little else, which meant the couch in the main area became an impromptu luggage/wardrobe area. We thought it was going to be completely unworkable but it had one thing going for it: a nice round table with enough chairs for everyone. This meant we passed many hours happily engaged in games of Fluxx or Forbidden Island and Forbidden Desert, thus neatly distracting ourselves from the realities of our excessively cosy cabin.
It helped that we didn’t actually spend that much time in the cabin during the day. Our first full day involved heading to the glorious Ricardo’s for breakfast (and cake) and an expedition to buy up supplies for the handfasting chain we were creating from the metres of crochet chain we Melbourne Failboats had created earlier. We spread our supplies on a sunny table in the holiday park and set about constructing the most amazing piece of handfasting cord ever to be seen.
The wedding itself occupied a good part of that day, obviously. I spent most of the time worrying about stuffing up the group portrait photos, but I think they came off alright in the end.
With no wedding or handfasting creation to divert us the next day, we had to find some alternative arrangements. A market seemed like just the thing! And with the bonus of an historic homestead right next door, there was no holding me back. The market itself was tiny, so we performed a quick circuit and headed to the homestead. It turned out the homestead was no longer open to the public and was actually a wedding and event venue, but the manager invited us on a tour anyway. It was absolutely gorgeous but the best bit was discovering that C. E. W. Bean wrote his accounts of the First World War in that very homestead. We were even shown a first edition copy of his work, which was a ridiculously exciting moment for Bec and me.
The manager happened to mention another homestead on the outskirts of Canberra that was actually open to the public and was well worth a visit, so off we headed. This gives you a good insight into the way the Failboats run a roadtrip: head somewhere and be distracted by all the shiny things. A significant part of the enthusiasm for visiting this second homestead was derived from two complementary facts: 1. We were starting to feel a little hungry, and, 2. There was a café at the homestead.
The driveway to Lanyon Homestead was so long that it brought on a quote from the Pride and Prejudice BBC adaptation: “Shall we reach the house itself before dark?” Seriously, it took forever. It was worth it, though – the place was utterly gorgeous! I wish I could share some photos from the inside but they were banned. Of course. For ‘copyright’ reasons, which was a new one on me. After our guided tour, we had a brief wander through the outbuildings before getting down to important business: lunch. Once the ordering was taken care of, Clare and I headed off to explore some more of the farm; little did I know I’d be encountering my old nemesis – creepy mannequins – in this most unlikely of places. But this is their way. They always take me by surprise. Check out the photo of one of them below, though – I think they may be the creepiest ones yet (be thankful I spared you a photo of the one with the missing fingers).
All too soon, it was time to pack up and leave our minuscule cabin and its attendant Failboats behind. That’s the worst bit about Failboats adventures: they always end. On the up side, I have plenty of photographs to remind us all of the fun we had. This will keep us going until the next roadtrip rolls around!