We have arrived in Canberra and spent the day touring the new parliament building which was built in 1986 and then spent the afternoon touring the War Memorial Museum which was fantastic.  Its bizarre Birch, Allegra and I have yet to explore our nations capital yet here we are learning so much about Australia and their history.  After our long day we drove a little way out of town and found a pullout off a country road and set ourselves up for the night.  Early the next morning I drove the van back into town to a beautiful picnic site in the capital which was by a lake.   We were getting ourselves organized and Carolyn had the back hatch up boiling some water for our morning coffees when she . . .

struck up a conversation with a runner who was getting back to her car.  After few pleasantries Victoria (the runner) sees that we are in our camper van and graciously offers her home to us so we can enjoy hot showers and a proper cup of coffee.  Initially we didn't know what to make of it, Carolyn and I exchange glances and welcomed Victoria's invitation.  I cannot explain how grateful we were.  We were into our fourth week of travelling and a complete stranger offers us her home, what a gesture of kindness.  Instead of going through the painful task of explaining the directions to her home she said, "Follow me".  We arrived at her house and immediately we felt welcome and comfortable.  Victoria made Carolyn and I coffees and told us to help ourselves to breakfast, getting bacon, eggs, yogourt out of the fridge as she scrambles to get ready for her day.   Her teenage son Olly comes down, introduces himself and we have the pleasure of getting acquainted.
     Before Victoria and Olly leave for their day, Victoria gives us an extra key to her home and says make yourselves comfortable and we'll see you at dinner time.  Unbelievable!!  We enjoyed a relaxing morning, getting laundry done and  answering e-mails and then went into Canberra for the afternoon to visit the Australian National Museum.  Before leaving Victoria's home we make a point of writing down her address and a few directions on how to get back.
We enjoy an excellent BBQ dinner with great conversation.  Victoria is full of really good advice about Australia, here are a few of here tips:

1. Do not swim at any unfamiliar beach .  The rip tides along the coast are very strong and unpredictable.  Only swim at a beach with lifeguards and swim between the two flags they place to indicate the "safe and patrolled" zone.  (We followed this loosly, taking extra precaution if we were at an unpatrolled beach).
2. Be aware of SHARKS!!!  They are all along the coast and many people do have encounters with them, especially if there is a penguin colony within the vicinity; for example Phillips Island and the Apostles, because where there are penguins there are sharks, nice little appetizers.
3. Never leave your shoes outside, a deadly venomous spider could easily find its way in, if you do happen to leave your shoes out overnight, give them a quick tap to make sure an uninvited visitor in your shoe.
4.  Watch out for stingers on the beaches as we move northward .  These stingers have long tentacles that can wrap around your body and give you some nasty and potentially deadly stings if not treated immediately.
5.  The northern areas of Australia do have mosquitoes transmit denge fever!

All very helpful and scary tips!!  Meeting up with Victoria was very sobering and we approached our Australian visit with a measure of caution.
Victoria had lived in Canada for a few months with her family and appreciated the challenges of travelling.   She was more than happy to open her home to us and it has been one of the highlights of our Australian trip!
We were all very grateful!!

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