Once again I spent a night in Canberra and thought I'd see how often they change the code on the shower block at the Woods Reserve Recreation Area. I can confirm that it is changed at least once every two months.
After a moderately clear day, the rain blew in around 4:30pm and didn't let up until morning (as far as I could tell). The large eastern grey kangaroo I saw last time escorted me down the turnoff to the campsite. I set the tent up starting around 8:30pm, and the Macpac Nautilus's faults meant that things didn't stay as dry as I would have liked: when the fly's door is open the water runs off onto the floor of the tent itself. Still, I managed to keep things dry enough.
It was a tad cold, perhaps three or four degrees, and the morning foggy. Soon after I got into the tent I had heard some faint scratching, as if something was digging near the tent, and I did find a small hole near the door when I got moving. Something had feasted on ends of the carrot I had discarded... and perhaps come looking for somewhere out of the rain.
Well that was a dumb idea. I had reason to be in Canberra on Thursday, so I planned to get there on Wednesday and camp the night at the Woods Reserve Recreation Area. If I had thought it through better I would have camped Thursday night and saved myself the late drive back to Sydney.
Anyway, I drove down through Tuggeranong, arriving around 8pm. The camping ground is quite civilised: hot showers, plenty of room, though most sites are some distance from where you can park your car. I set up the old Macpac Nautilus in the headlights of the car, and froze my hands off while doing so. The ambient air wasn't too bad but the ground was already frosty.
The tent hasn't let me down before, but it isn't up to this kind of winter camping; according the BOM it got down to about -3 degrees in Tuggeranong around 3:30am. My sleeping bag is purportedly good down to -6 degrees, but that proved to be another furphy. I didn't sleep too well, largely because I wasn't used to breathing cold air, a problem I solved around 4am by burying my head in the bag. The shower was pleasant in the morning, though the three minutes on, two minutes off duty cycle meant I had to shiver while waiting for that extra minute to wash the shampoo off. It was too cold to shave. Oh well.
The frost in the morning was pretty intense. Both sides of the tent's fly were dusted in ice. Fortunately the ground was still soft, so getting the pegs out was easy, and even luckier the car started without a fuss. On the drive out I spotted this roo just a short distance from the campsite. I think it is the biggest Eastern Grey I've seen in the wild.
Later I found the cold had pretty much killed the MacBook's battery, but it does seem to still hold a charge.
From a tip by a mate of Darren: if you intend to ride a bike in Vietnam and don't have an Australian or local licence, QBE's policy does not rule out covering you provided the bike is 100cc or less. Read the policy carefully though, for they may still play some kind of illegal-activity shenanigans. I hope I don't have to find out.
You can get steep discounts by looking around. I got mine through Global Surf Travel for 30% less than going straight to QBE. Strangely QBE still process the payment and issue the policy directly from their website. It remains a lot more than e.g. AAMI (for me about $250 versus $165) but it might actually pay out if something happens.
I headed off to the consulate in Edgecliff last Thursday to apply for a tourist visa, and back today to pick it up. They will give you a single-entry 3 month visa for $AU100, or a multi-entry one for $AU140. Seems like a lot less hassle than what people have done in the past, or trying to get a pre-organised visa-on-arrival.