Heading back to Sydney from Canberra wasn't as bad as the drive there, likely due to expecting it to take a while. But I had to give up the freedom the rental car provided and hoof it from then on. The hostel I wanted to stay at was booked the first night, due to waiting too long to reserve. But I was able to stay there the remaining nights. The first night, however, was an interesting experience to say the least.
I stayed in Kings Cross, which is likely the closest thing to Vegas as Australia gets, without the casinos. There were strip clubs and brothels mixed with night clubs and sex shops. The girls who weren't open for business still dressed like they were, and the place heavily reeked of sugary cocktails. While the spectacle was rather amusing, the rain was not, and I was rather tired.
My hostel was far from accommodating. The room had twelve other people in it and was not air conditioned (it was in the mid 90s during the day and very humid). The cleanliness of the bed was questionable, and the windows which had to be open to get any kind of air also let in plenty of noise. What was worse was the torrential storm which made a racket for several hours, and the lights on downstairs which kept screwing with my sense of time.
I didn't sleep much at all, mainly due to a mishap I had to fix first thing in the morning. The clerk at the car rental said I could ignore the tolls on the expressway (they were called freeways but were NOT free...) and just call a number to pay for them later, as long as I did it within 48 hours. Well, she failed to mention that wouldn't be available over the weekend, despite that being when I was renting. My only option to avoid a likely ludicrous fee was to get online to file before the 48 hour mark of when I hit the first toll, which was... 8:00 am. Fortunately, the desk worker was up by 7am, so I could use the Internet and got it taken care of in time. But I was further freaking out due to having lost the very important sheet of paper with the rental car's license plate number.
In the end, I got the license number and finished it all in time, but the stress and pouring rain kept waking me up constantly so I didn't accidentally oversleep. I skipped the grungy shower, packed my bags, and tried to dodge the worst of the rain as I went toward the Subway, rode to the harbour, and went to the much much nicer hostel in the fancy historic area of the city. Sadly, the rain, stress, and exhaustion caused my recently vanquished winter cold to come back. But by the time I made it to NZ all was well again.