Took us the best part of a day to fly up to Canberra from Tasmania via Sydney. When we arrived I was slightly confused by what greeted me. Australia’s landlocked capital city, built either side of a man made lake and flanked by rolling wooded hills, is basically a less lively version of Milton Keynes. Our Australian assistant director Nick took our cameraman Geraint and I for a drive round, proud to show off his old university town, but after a couple of hours surveying what it had to offer we both rather rudely declared it the least impressive city we had ever set eyes on. Big empty bits of dried up grass separate the roads, and you get the impression that when they designed Canberra several decades ago the idea was “If we build it, they will come”… but they didn’t come.
Warmed to the place slightly more during my 2 days off when I discovered that by the lake is one of the best art galleries I have ever been to, with an incredible selection of famous modern art works from around the world. Seems a terrible waste to have it sitting in empty parkland with only a couple of school groups, an old school friend of mine visiting from Sydney and me looking round it though!
This final filming block we’ve been joined by the one and only Iain Stirling, and we livened Canberra up a bit today, as I dressed as Kylie Minogue (think Iain has a dignity clause in his contract) and tottered around town in a large pair of red high heels as we sang about how I “Can’t Get It Into My Head” that Canberra is the capital city, not Sydney. Nobody really batted an eyelid – but hardly anybody was around anyway, as this is how I imagine a city looks after a zombie apocalypse . Then it was goodbye Canberra, hello tractors.
Our tractor collector Bill has been driving tractors since he was 11 years old, and now in his late middle age he has an impressive collection of well over a hundred of them, most in perfect working condition. Iain and I enjoyed test driving one of them in the vast empty valley that makes up his farm. I kept gazing around me and thinking what a ridiculously big place this country is. My European brain just can’t get a grasp of it.