The trek to Tuggeranong. Or long day’s journey into night.

Spider Boy and I had a slight obstacle on the second day of Term 2 last week when the entrance of our street (a no-through road) was flooded during the big Sydney storm (well New South Wales storm actually).

My mother warned me about the dangers of driving through the flood (some would say giant puddle), worrying about water in the brakes. Without her car, it was a good 20 minute walk in the heavy rain. And I was slightly worried about precarious tree branches.

I know it’s a bit soft of me, but I let Spider Boy stay home from school. Our street situation was a tiny hiccup though, compared to what some went through; thousands of people further up the coast were without power for days (some are still without) and are dealing with bad property damage.

This week is the first full week back at school so I think a holiday retrospective is due.

Spider Boy and I make the trek to Tuggeranong, in Canberra’s south every school holidays for a few days. The day before we were due to go this time, I developed a terrible sore throat.

“You shouldn’t be going!”Mum warned on departure day. “You’ll just get sicker and and I really don’t want to have to drive to Canberra to come and get you.” I thanked her for her concern but told her to stop with the Negative Nancy talk.

At 8.30am, I called the Apple Store in Canberra to see about my four-week old MacBook Air that just wouldn’t power on (as of the previous evening) despite a fully-charged battery. The Genius Bar was already full for the day, but I was told I could just turn up as a “walk-in” on arrival in Canberra.

We got on to the bus with cheese-flavoured snacks, hand-sanitiser, antibacterial wipes, a box of tissues, and my broken Macbook Air. And a Ninja Turtle backpack full of action figures. Somewhere in the Southern Highlands, Spider Boy, who had made it to Canberra by bus without vomiting the previous two journeys, said he didn’t feel well. He didn’t look it. I rummaged for a plastic bag and held it open on his lap.

“Mum, that bag’s got a hole in it!” He warned. He’s so sharp. It was only a tiny hole… surely there wouldn’t be that much vomit? I quickly rummaged for another plastic bag and double-bagged. A second later, there it was. A heady mix of rice-crackers and cheese balls.

There were a few more in-seat vomits (he’s very neat) and questions that alternated between, “How many more minutes until we get there?” and “How many minutes now?”, to which I would respond with answers like “97” and “about 54”, when really it was still over 100.

These questions started just after Campbelltown (Canberra is at least another 2.5 hours after that) and continued until just after we passed the ACT border sign. Poor thing. He was the only child on the bus full of hipster student-types on their (functioning) Macbook Airs, watching Game of Netflix of whatever it is they watch. The only child on the bus. Why am I still catching the bus? Am I scared of the M5? A little bit. So that, and the fact that I don’t own a car.

When we finally disembarked the vessel of vomit after 195 minutes (don’t worry, I took the holey vomit-bags with me) we stuffed our luggage into one of the small lockers ($5 for 3 hours – pretty good) at the Jolimont Centre (Canberra’s bus station) and hot-footed it to the Apple Store.

Fortunately Spider Boy had made a miraculous recovery now that he was out in the crisp Canberra April afternoon air.

I cursed as I realised I always forget how chilly late afternoons in April can be in Canberra. I NEVER bring enough warm clothes. I always seem to be at Big W every visit, buying an emergency cardigan. I really need to learn to pack more efficiently.

At the Apple Store, Kit, a charming young man with a – I want to say clipboard, but I know it was an iPad – told me there were 19 “walk-ins” waiting ahead of me. As it was 4.30 on a Friday afternoon I didn’t fancy my chances. Although the Apple Store was open till 9pm that day, I was hoping for something between 4.30 and 5.00pm, thanks very much.

Blue-eyed, 20-something Kit did his best to squeeze me in with a “genius” from said Genius Bar, as he suspected my computer problem might be resolved with the push of the right button/s. He grabbed a genius for me just as she was going home.

She pressed a few buttons, but nothing.

“I think we’re going to have to open her up,” the genius warned me, “but I’m on my way home now, so you’ll need to come back tomorrow.” We established that as my computer could be “in repair” for up to seven days, I was better off taking it to the Apple store in Sydney, since that’s where I actually live.

I managed to hold back the contents of my nose and bade the genius and Kit farewell

With a broken Apple there was nothing for it but to go to where I could get some working fruit, on a tart, namely. No trip to Canberra is complete without a visit to Dobinson’s, one of the best bakeries I have ever been to. Seriously, if you like cake and/or pie, go there.

The generous tarts of Dobinson’s in Canberra

We met Spider Boy’s dad back at the Jolimont Centre. SBD/ex-husband wanted to take us to visit his father in hospital. I told him I didn’t feel right about going into a hospital because I didn’t want to give my father-in-law, or any other patient, my germs. He said something about hand-sanitiser.

When we got to my father-in-law’s room, I stuck my head in the doorway and warned him about about my cold but he didn’t care. “Come in and sit down, Love”, he insisted. I sat in the corner not touching anyone or anything and I tried not to breath out. I was hand-sanitising every 2 minutes, everytime I had to hold a tissue to my nose.

After chatting politely to a family friend who was also visiting, stopping to buy take-away Malaysian food in the cold and dark early evening, and schlepping bags from the visitor’s carpark in my brother-in-law’s townhouse complex, we sat down and ate dinner. By the time I finally got into my pyjamas, my nose was more blocked, my eyes were stinging and watering, and a headache had developed.

I went to bed when Spider Boy did, but couldn’t sleep; we were sharing a bed, I was thinking about all the things, I kept needing to blow my nose but didn’t want to wake my little companion and I was worried about breathing on him. “Mum do you have to keep blowing your nose all night?” he implored before he drifted off.

After our long day’s journey, I finally fell asleep sometime after midnight, with a Vick’s-smeared tissue up one nostril.

Do you ever travel long-distance by bus? Do those travel-sickness ginger tablets work? Do you ever have trouble sleeping even though you’re really tired?


  1. Oh no, feel better soon! I don’t travel by bus often, but yes to ginger (I like ginger chew candy) and yes to being over-tired 😦 [and your photos and instagram look aweseome]

  2. I found ginger tablets work a little, but I found that having something pressing on my pressure points on my wrists is the best thing! You can actually buy them but basically just a band with a button that presses on the inside of your wrist is super helpful.
    That bakery looks amazing!! Maybe I will have to check out Canberra sometime soon…

    • Thanks Jordi, that’s interesting about the wrist bands, I think I’ll bypass the ginger tablets and just try the wrist band for Spider Boy next time. Yes, that bakery is amazing, even better than the photos suggest. I recommend Canberra, it has a burgeoning foodie/arts scene. What city are you from originally?

      • It sounds fun! And I haven’t been since I was a child so will definitely have to make a weekend of it sometime soon!
        I was from Melbourne 🙂

      • Yes, do it. Several new trendy boutiquey hotels now. Canberra’s an easy weekend trip from Sydney and has changed so much even in the past five years or so. I love Melbourne too. Love getting to know different cities. Enjoy Sydney!

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