Road trip to Canberra for the ACT German car show

This weekend I drove to Canberra to attend the ACT German car show.   I will cover the show itself in a separate article.     I chose to drive down Saturday afternoon to properly attend the show.   Canberra is about 320km from where I live in Sydney, and about a 3:30 drive.

If I was just going to view the display, it would be possible to do the whole thing in a day trip.   However, to display a car makes it a very long day and I would likely be very drowsy on the drive home.

When I last attended the show in 2019, I found a very well priced Canberra hotel that had secure, undercover parking.   This was perfect for displaying my 250SE, that I prefer not to park outside overnight.    That hotel has since closed down.

I decided not to take my 250SE this year for a few reasons.   Firstly, we’ve had four ‘once in a century’ weather events in the last year or so on the east coast of Australia.   We are still in a La Nina weather pattern, so I figured a car with a closed roof was preferable.   In addition, my 250SE has been playing up a bit, and my mechanic thinks we may need to send the injection pump off to be rebuilt.

Based on that, I went with my 560SEL.   I’ve never displayed it at a show before, and it’s a great car for long distance cruising.   I took the 450SLC to the Wheels event earlier this year, and the national rally,  plus the front screen seal leaks in torrential rain.   The other option would have been my 560SEC, but the SEL has nicer paint, and the SEC has a few oil leaks that will be repaired in the next couple of weeks.

I think I made a good choice as it was torrential rain pretty much the whole way down.   There was even some light hail at one point.   I also discovered after 2.5 years of owning the 560SEL, the AM function does not work on the Becker 868.   I was going to tune into the AFL grand final.  In the end I found an FM station broadcasting it.

This time, I left the Canberra hotel selection a bit late.  By the time I actually booked, reasonable options were few and far between.    In the end I found a Ramada Encore in Belconnen for a decent price.   It was about 25 mins away from the show, but the price was right.   Surprisingly options in Queanbeyan were more expensive than Canberra.

The parking was pretty terrible.   Two small parking lots with narrow spaces and SUVs/Utes wall to wall.   I arrived at 5:30PM and it was already mostly full.   The room was clean and functional, and had the best water pressure of a hotel shower I’ve used in ages.


As well as the show, I was attending a pre-concours dinner.   This was quite a good event and I was able to catch up with a few friends I had not seen in a while due to all the COVID lockdowns.

Of course, all this driving in the rain meant the car was filthy and in no state to be put on display.   Luckily a friend from Sydney had also driven down and found a 24 hour car wash in Fyshwick (an industrial area of Canberra).    We met there at 10:30PM to give the cars a quick wash.

UntitledWe went with the touchless laser wash, which wasn’t cheap but did a decent job of the cars.   Then a quick wipe down with rags to remove any excess water.     It’s good to know of this place for future shows.

Arriving back at my Canberra hotel saw the parking completely full.   In the end I parked in a Chemist warehouse across the road.   I didn’t think they would tow me away parking there from 11:30PM Saturday to 7:30AM Sunday.    There was even an undercover section, but I figured I wouldn’t chance them closing the gates and locking me in.

Assuming I go again next year, I think I will try and find a hotel with better parking and book earlier.   Most hotels in Canberra don’t seem to offer undercover parking.   There is one that other club members park at right downtown, but that is very expensive.   I may even look at other parking options and then look at hotels nearby.

The show itself was excellent, with a really good mix of cars and all the major models represented.   It was a beautiful day for the show – started a bit cold but then turned into a lovely sunny day.


The drive back was fairly uneventful, just lots of traffic.   NSW had a last minute public holiday on Thursday to celebrate the life of Queen Elizabeth II.   A lot of people took the Friday off and turned it into a long weekend.

I wonder if the business council lobbied the government for a Thursday holiday for this very reason.   Otherwise Thursday as a choice made little sense.  It also allowed business to encourage workers to use up annual leave balances which are still high after travel restrictions.

Of course the NSW Government wanted to get into the act too, and declared that the ‘long weekend’ was also a double demerit point period.   I generally avoid driving during these periods, as not only are they are blatant cash grab that does nothing to improve road safety.  You can loose more than half your points for 11km/h over the speed limit, while nothing is done about seriously dangerous driving like tailgating.

It was a good weekend, and I am keen to do the show again.   Before I take the 560SEL for a road trip again, I need to sort out the vibration at 110km/h.  It feels like I have lost a wheel weight or something like that.

For next time, I would also get more organized about my Canberra hotel.

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