Julie Bishop shuddered on the inside when she boarded the later afternoon flight from Perth to Canberra on Wednesday evening, reminded of the interminable commutes over 20 years in Parliament.
But this time, she was starting a new job, as chancellor of the Australian National University. And it is a job about which she is upbeat, despite the coronavirus crisis that has delayed her official installation ceremony and other challenges facing the sector.
Ms Bishop, known for accessorising a mood, dressed in sparkling celebration stilettos as she posed in front of the portraits of chancellors past - each one of them a man.
Australia's first female foreign minister, Ms Bishop now finds herself pioneering another job for women. She says she has a responsibility to take the roles and ease the way for the next woman - and on that front, she was happy to see that Marise Payne succeeded her as foreign minister.
Ms Bishop was touted as a replacement for Joe Hockey as ambassador to the United States, but said she had no interest at all in the job, having held the ultimate overseas post in government.
She was, however, "honoured" to be at the ANU. In government, the ANU had been her "go-to university for public policy research on international affairs", she said, and she wanted to see the university build more on its international reputation, especially in space research, artificial intelligence, energy and climate change. Australia's only national university should reflect the country's top-20 international economic standing, she said.
The ANU will have an office in Perth for Ms Bishop - who envisages having the occasional board meeting there - as it had a Melbourne office for her predecessor Gareth Evans. Her installation ceremony was to have been on Thursday, but has been postponed given the twin challenges of bushfires and coronavirus.
Ms Bishop wants the ANU to play a big role in the bushfire response, including in recovery and future-proofing, and in the national climate debate - and said she had offered the know-how of the ANU's 300 climate experts to the government.
"I'm certain the Prime Minister has reflected on recent events and I'm sure he will learn from any missteps and will respond according to the best possible advice," she said. "That's why I'm offering our experts in a whole range of areas."
As a prominent industrialised nation and a country hit badly by the effects of climate change, Australia had a responsibility to be a leading voice internationally, she said.
Ms Bishop was deputy Liberal leader under Malcolm Turnbull, who is now waging a social-media and speaking war against the Coalition on climate. Ms Bishop, while notoriously steely and pointed, is less provocative publicly, insisting "there's nothing more ex" than an ex-politician.
But she does offer some commentary on the state of politics. She described the sports grants controversy as damaging for democracy.
"What's regrettable is that issues like this damage the reputation of the political class. It takes another hit and that's not good for the health of democracy."
The resignation of Nationals deputy leader Bridget McKenzie also means the only woman as leader or deputy leader of any party Larissa Waters, who is co-deputy of the Greens with Nick McKim. The Liberals, Nationals and Labor have all-male leadership teams. Ms Bishop, who has referred to the "gender deafness" among her colleagues in the Coalition cabinet room, who "just don't seem to hear you", said the leadership of political parties should reflect the diversity of the wider population.
"I have said many, many times that no nation will reach its potential unless it fully engages with the skills and talents and energy of the 50 per cent of its population which is female," she said.
She has more immediate challenges at the ANU, which she said had a healthy balance sheet but would take a financial hit from the coronavirus crisis.
The ANU, like other universities, has become increasingly reliant on international students in recent years, making $320 million from international student fees in 2018, most of it from China.
The close links with China have also given rise to a warning from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute that academic links and shared courses with big military and intelligence-linked universities in China are a security risk.
Ms Bishop said she was "acutely conscious of national security issues", especially given the ANU is home to the national security college whose students come from government security agencies.
But she said the international focus was part of the ANU's unique character as the national university and as a leading international research and teaching centre. The ANU's job was to inform public policy and help find solutions to challenges faced by the region, she said.
"I see international students adding to diversity and richness and I don't describe the relationship as one of dependency. We derive mutual benefits," she said.
The challenges facing universities were the same as those facing the economy: "To ensure that we have graduates that are equipped with the skills and abilities to live in a constantly changing disrupted world because of the fourth industrial revolution - automation, artificial intelligence, robotics, changing the way we live, the way we work, the way we connect. We have to ensure that our graduates are able to succeed in that world."
She backed vice-chancellor Brian Schmidt's decision in 2018 to reject an overture from the Ramsay Centre to set up a degree course in Western Civilisation at the ANU. Professor Schmidt scrapped negotiations over concerns about academic independence, and the centre has now set up at the University of Wollongong. Ms Bishop said the ANU had "acted appropriately in the circumstances" and followed its "absolute commitment to academic autonomy and freedom".
Ms Bishop sold her Canberra home when she left Parliament last year, and said she wasn't planning to buy again. She will keep her role as international strategic adviser to a number of companies, including sitting on the board of foreign aid consultancy Palladium. She earns $75,000 as chancellor.