As I understand it…
100 years ago Sydney and Melbourne realised that arguing about which would be a greater Capitol was a bit petty… So they held a competition for architects, planners, engineers and designers to create a city from scratch on the halfway point of a straight line between the two rival cities. An aboriginal name was chosen, the contest was won and way way way back in the ancient past of 1913, Canberra was born.
The city lies in it’s own state ACT. Which I think has the numberplate of “the Capitol state” which is a little no shit Sherlock! But then I may have made that up as ACT is Australian Capitol Territory not Capitol State but I don’t remember because I only went twice….
Opinion is divided over Canberra. It’s easy to mock for a number a reasons and is often mocked for a number of reasons: here are these number of reasons.
1. It has no soul.
This is perhaps true. Canberra has no soul. It is the ginger, or I say “ranga” of Australian cities. Think Milton Keynes.
2. It has too many roundabouts.
Only in that the rest of Australia doesn’t have many roundabouts I guess. Again, think Milton Keynes, 20th century town planning, grid blocks and roundabouts.
3. There is sweet F A to do in Canberra.
Maybe not sweet F A but activities seemed limited, so I just got blind drunk.
4. Canberra is home to the federalos, therefore it is a symbol of the repressors!
I can’t comment on this. If Westminster was a small city in the midlands, between Leeds and London it would probably attract more hate than it receives as a quiet suburb in London.
5. Canberrians crack their eggs upside down
Yeah I made that up.
Accompanying all these is this prevailing attitude of “Canberra is shite let’s mock it”. It’s known as the cemetery with lights and Bill Bryson said something like “why go here when you can die instead?” I don’t understand cities and modern cities I understand less. I hate Milton Keynes with a passion (IKEA and pirate cove crazy golf aside).
But after all this I like Canberra, quite a lot. There may be some bias in that I spent most of my time in ACT getting filthy drunk with beautiful Germans. There is also a bit of me that liked the actual, bricks and mortar of the place though. The feel of the place, y’know?
Yes it has no soul: but does Sydney, really? It’s like a seven year old calling a six year old childish to annoy it. I’ve been to Melbourne too and well… It’s not soulless, but. There’s something missing. It seems a bit too “mixing pot”, a bit more artifice than actuality.
And if Hobart has a soul it’s twisted black, full of hanging convicts and poisoned aboriginals.
Do any cities really have souls? Not sure.
Canberra certainly doesn’t, but it doesn’t need one. The sun shines and there are mountains in the backdrop. That’s enough for me.
There are roundabouts yeah, but hey I like roundabouts, especially roundabouts full of rabbits. The guy who won the competition had a gorgeous vision and I think most of it was realised. The population of the city separated from the political heart by the river, the lines that always lead the eye to parliament house. Even the traffic flow was of interest, the surges and ebbs. Good stuff. Better result than the guy who won the competition to create a national anthem as Advance Australia fair sucks. Not being mean. But it sucks.
There’s also plenty to do in Canberra, c’mon it’s the Capitol. The national gallery, museums, the ruddy huge theatre. It’s a student town as well and wasn’t that bad a night out… At all. The street cleaner handed in my passport to the police the next morning, there are iron sheep to ride and fountains to jump in if your smashed and they don’t mind you sleeping in the back of a car.
I loved it. The city was spotless, the locals friendly (surprised that backpackers visited) and the walk up to Parliament House is so damn relaxing. Leafy tree lined roads miles long that lead straight to this hill on top of which is what looks like a long white crown stretched on top of it and simply the best flagpole. A real beauty of a pole, I’m talking like five struts, 50 metre high, fuckoff sized beast of a flag hanging from it. And of course, t’s Australia, so there’s nobody there.
Canberra… 8.3 out of 10