CanCon 2007 - A Trader & Wargamer Perspective
If there is a convention that can truly claim to be the Australian National Convention for wargamers, it has to be CanCon. Held over the Australia day long weekend, in the national capital, and run by a club that leaves it open to all and any other clubs to take part, wins it the title 'National'.
Of course, travelling across from Adelaide is a long road-journey. However, there were others present who had travelled much further: Perth, Darwin, and even from other countries. With Canberra being the site of many embassies, this is not often easy to detect, but this year I did meet some visitors from the U.K., Belgium, Canada, and the U.S.A..
We set out on the Wednesday before CanCon - a couple of hours later than planned, due to some last minute changes in arrangements. After a nine-hour drive through some rather boringly repetitive scenery, we arrived at Hay, where we stayed for the night in a lovely cabin at the excellent Big4 caravan park. Along the way, I noted that some of the old WWII tanks are still visible at Murrayville, just on the Victorian border. It is a pity the townsfolk don't put one of the turrets laying about onto the Grant tank. They would probably get some tourists stopping to see that.
The small town of Hay itself has interesting connections to WWII, being the site of a POW camp. One only has to look in all directions from the town to understand why nobody would have bothered to escape! It is about as remote as anyone can imagine. Any POW escaping would have had to either go via the river, the train, or the road, all of which would have made recapture easy. To have headed off in any other direction would have been certain death in the hot and waterless plains.
Having already had a good breakfast under our belts did help to soften the blow of finding that our traditional stopping place at Gundagai had been taken over by one of the American fast-food chains. Being 24 hours away from home by then, it was amazing how disappointing it was to find that great eating-house now just another sad example of Australian Americanisation. We had been looking forward to that stop for five hours since leaving Hay. No more big Aussie-style steaks there. No more heaps of bacon and eggs. No more of those friendly ladies handing out lashings of toast to go with an already huge breakfast. No more struggling to find a parking space. The massive truck apron was empty. You could have parked a tank regiment on it. No doubt the weeds will soon push up through cracks in the concrete. So having filled up with petrol, we decided to wait until Canberra for lunch, and drove off feeling we'd lost an old friend.
It was hot. Adelaide was mild when we left, and even the Hay Plain was relatively cool, but as we got closer to the Australian Capital Territory, the eastern area of New South Wales certainly showed it was in drought. Dry brown creeks stained the sides of hills, making it look as if the very veins of the earth were showing through. Dead grass, very little stock to be seen, and waterways we are used to seeing plenty of water in were either dry or very nearly so. However, eventually we crossed into the ACT, the Post Office tower on Black Hill appeared in the distance, and Canberra was in sight.