Am in the bush capital, and now that I’ve been driven all around it I understand the title. Canberra is very tree-ful (though I’m sure that’s making a few people nervous at the moment). As soon as I got off the plane I had to start calling all the people who said that they’d speak to me to set up times to talk. It was about this time that I started to wonder how I would be reimbursed for my millions of phonecalls – my boss suggested I tack a few hours on to my timesheet instead of trying to extort money for call costs. He is wise. First person I spoke to was from the RSPCA, which was very interesting – they didn’t lose many animals – about 2 dogs, a cat and some birds (whose cage was open, but they were probably overcome by smoke). They lost a building or two but had excellent volunteers who helped get the animals out – one woman had 38 cats in her house!! Which was fine, until her brothers house burned down and him and his family were evacuated and had to hang out there as well. Miaow!

After that I spoke to the people who were in the Animal Hospital that was completely annihilated by the fire. People are bitching about them not saving any of the animals, but it’s actually extraordinary that they’re not dead. The vet didn’t even save his own animals that were there – they had approximately 2 minutes warning. As I am a neutral vessel I will not give my opinion on this – I will leave you to guess it. Also spoke to a radio guy from one of the commercial stations and got to listen to some of the log tapes from January 18th to try and establish when the fires started making the airwaves.

It was a l-o-n-g day. Got off plane at 9:30 and didn’t stop. Took pages and pages of notes – if my notes were my thesis, my thesis would be finished! Got to my super-seedy hotel (like I’ve really stayed in cat nutritional supplements
heaps of hotels...I'm more a hostel type) but at least it has it's own bathroom. I tried not to register that it looked out on to air-conditioning ducts which purred loudly and attempted to ignore that the room (which gets the afternoon sun) would successfully double as a sauna. Didn't sleep much, for these reasons. Collapsed after takeaway Pad Thai and a Coopers. Have not yet decided whether I'm brave enough to hand in a receipt for my two stubbies of beer. I think I should - a girl needs her fuel to perform to capacity. That will be my argument.

Got up early, still in sauna and went to the window. It was sooooo pretty! Canberra is so weird - it's got so many trees (well it did have) and lots of birds (except for the ones that fell from the sky) - it's like a city that's been plonked down in the countryside. The air at 6:30am was really country-crisp - though I could tell it was going to be a hot one. Had a wonder breakfast, which endeared me further; museli, fruit salad, orange juice and tea all for $10. Killer.

Bought toothpaste, brushed teeth and headed over to the ABC studios to speak to people there. It was not the short walk I had been promised, but I made it on time. After that went to the Bureau of Meteorology. Met up with my boss; I try to attach myself to him at mealtimes as he is in possession of university credit card. Yay. Cheese and tomato sandwiches taste even better free. Canberra has v.nice tomatos!

Have since been dropped at the National Library where I've been searching through newspapers the week before January 18 to look for reported fire risks etc. The library is much easier to use than it's scary website search function, which left me baffled. I am sitting here on a computer that has a sign on it saying:
'This PC is for Research only, not Email, Chat or Games'
Grrrr. It doesn't say no blogging.

Just need to add that Shauny (who I feel is somewhere nearby - we are in the same territory after all) did what I have always planned to do. Obviously she is just hugely more organised. She says;

I bought a pedometer yesterday. It is a very clever device - it tells you how many steps you’ve taken, how many kilometres you’ve roamed, how many calories you’ve burned...

Goddamnit! I've wanted a pedometer for ages but I just needed a guinea-pig to convince me of their cool-a-bility. Now I'm a convert. Next pay packet...after my Breeders tickets...electricity I'll wait til my birthday.

Thank god I've got my online fix. My laptop feels quite naked without a phone line hanging out of the back of it (hopefully it hasn't been stolen from my rather dodgy hotel). On the final note. My hotel room has no phone line. It sucks.