20 December 2022

2022 Year in Review: Living the Canberra lifestyle

| Kim Treasure
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2022 was a breath of fresh air for Canberrans, tired of the lockdowns and uncertainty that 2021 delivered.

Instead of being stuck inside, we were out and about exploring our own backyard and beyond, and making our mark in a myriad of ways.

Here’s a look back at the ACT region’s unique lifestyle in 2022.

14. The last of Canberra’s orange ACTION buses are about to disappear – will we miss them?
by James Coleman

old Canberra buses

Old ACTION buses from the Canberra Transport Museum. Photo: Brock Ginman.

If you see Bus 974 on the roads around Canberra, chances are, Stephen Casey is at the wheel.

‘Gwendoline’ will be among 35 of the old orange and blue ACTION buses to retire at the end of this year when a wave of leased low-emission Scanias arrive. But while the Renault PR100.2 (badged Mack) buses are still here, this bus driver of five years will continue to go out of his way to drive them.

13. What lies beneath Lake Burley Griffin? Millions of jellyfish, for a start
by James Coleman


Millions of Craspedacusta sowerbii have made their home in Lake Burley Griffin. Photo: Open Cage, Wikimedia Commons.

The list of unexpected things in Canberra’s waterways grows. Freshwater jellyfish in Australia were largely unheard of until thousands suddenly showed up in Lake Burley Griffin in the 1960s. Marine biologist Dr Eldon Ball explains how they all got here, and – more importantly – whether they sting.

12. Forget $3000 caskets, meet the guy who paints cardboard coffins in Canberra
by James Coleman

Gregory Andrews

Gregory Andrews painting a cardboard coffin for Tender Funerals. Photo: James Coleman.

Gregory Andrews has just finished painting a $135 cardboard coffin in his garage. He says funerals don’t have to be complicated and expensive. Here’s why.

11. Canberra’s spitfires are out in force. But do they deserve the name?
by James Coleman

Sawfly larvae

Spitfire, sawfly larvae. Photo: Muhamad Farihin.

It has always been high on the list of terrifying Australian fauna. For starters, it’s a black worm with thick bristly hairs – a glance is enough to make the skin crawl. Then there is the name: Spitfire.

It turns out the scary spitfires also love rain, which is why you may have noticed more around Canberra than usual this year.

10. ANU student knits solar system into her jumper … and the result goes global
by James Coleman

Rachel Kirby

PhD student Rachel Kirby: the jumper includes the asteroid belt and the Kuiper Belt but loses a certain ‘planet’. Photo: Tracey Nearmy, ANU.

Rachel Kirby has taken up the knitting needles in her spare moments for about 10 years now, but her latest creation is out of this world.

The PhD student at the Australian National University (ANU) has weaved together two of her passions – knitting and space – to create a solar-system jumper. And now it seems everyone wants one.

9. Got a barking dog next door driving you crazy? You’re not the only one
by Lottie Twyford

Dogs may look cute when they are just next door. But what can you do if they won’t stop barking? Photo: File.

Few things in life are more irritating than an incessantly barking dog.

But a dog barking in the early hours of the morning when you’re just trying to squeeze in those last few hours of sleep before facing the day makes a terrible situation even worse – as Tuggeranong residents Sara and Tony* know only too well.

8. Kingsleys and 5 other places Canberrans would take visitors
by James Coleman

National Arboretum

The open spaces of the National Arboretum. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

A friend’s coming to Canberra, so where are you taking them? We asked and here’s what you told us – and let us know what we missed!

7. Photographer seals dream shot, making a real meal out of octopus
by Sally Hopman

Photographer Sophia snapped her dream shot when this South Coast seal caught lunch in Twofold Bay. Photos: S_Q Snaps aboard Cat Balou Cruises.

Brad Wills has to have one of the best jobs in the world.

Where else would you see a seal chomping down on his lunch of a rather large, eight-armed octopus, the seal seemingly unaware of the tour boat and snapping phones a metre or so away, capturing every bite.

That’s exactly what Brad, owner/skipper of Cat Balou Cruises, based at Eden in Southern NSW, did – along with his boatload of tourists and locals last weekend.

6. Canberra’s round bus shelters are beloved icons, so why don’t we make them anymore?
by James Coleman

Bus shelter

Canberra’s iconic bus shelters might be viewed lovingly today, but it wasn’t always that way. Photo: File.

They are to Canberra what the red telephone box is to London and the yellow taxi to New York. They’ve been turned into all manner of knick-knacks including coffee mugs, 3D-printed plastic models, Christmas decorations, earrings, socks, pot plant holders and cardboard art shops.

It’s the concrete bus shelter, and nearly 500 were dotted around the suburbs between 1975 and 1995, from Acton to Yarralumla and almost every Canberran has waited in one – or sought shelter from the weather in one – at one time or another.

5. Canberra’s Magic Mike brings Australia’s Got Talent judges to tears
by James Coleman

Man with playing card

Michael Webb (aka Magic Mike) delivering his audition at Australia’s Got Talent 2022. Photo: Seven.

“I have never heard an audience so quiet, even before you got into the very sort of personal details of the story.”

That’s how judge David Walliams described the tear-jerking performance by 28-year-old Canberra magician Michael Webb on Channel Seven’s Australia’s Got Talent.

4. There are white-tailed spiders in Canberra, but are they as dangerous as people think?
by Damien Larkins

A white tail spider in a container

White-tails can look dangerous, but just how dangerous are they? Photo: Ben Shoard.

White-tail spiders are out in greater numbers this year after the wet weather, but experts say their dangerous reputation is worse than their bite.

It seems many of us have stories about white-tail bites – of excruciating pain, skin wounds, even loss of limbs.

But spider experts say there’s no evidence of confirmed white tail bites causing injuries anything close to that.

3. Story behind Civic’s sculptures of menacing, ghostly dogs with pyjamas
by Marg Wade

'bush pack (nil tenure)' sculptures in Civic

A magpie hitches a ride on the menacing dogs of bush pack (nil tenure) as they race towards the carousel in Civic. Photo: Supplied.

Have you walked along City Walk in the Canberra CBD, just up from the carousel, and noticed a sculpture of a group of seven bronze dogs in three groups, looking a tad thin and wearing bandages?

Created by artist, lecturer and former park ranger Dr Amanda Stuart, the dogs in bush pack (nil tenure) appear menacing as they race towards the children on the carousel.

So what is the back story of the artwork? Why do the dogs look thin and elongated, and why are they wearing bandages?

2. Meet the ’52-year-old nerd’ building a life-size spaceship in his Canberra shed
by James Coleman

The project has taken four years so far, but Baz estimates he’ll need at least one more to finish it. Photo: Builds by Baz.

It’s not a bird, or a plane – it’s Canberra’s hand-made MKII Colonial Viper.

Four years in, and Baz Am is finally close to finishing a life-size replica of the MKII Colonial Viper spaceship from science-fiction series Battlestar Galactica in his Canberra shed.

1. Tunnels under Lake Burley Griffin more like Swiss cheese
by James Coleman

Lake Burley Griffin looking towards Telstra Tower.

In 1915, the foreman in charge of digging Canberra’s main sewer doubted Lake Burley Griffin would ever hold water. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

Rumours have long abounded of secret tunnels and caves beneath Canberra. The truth is they do exist, but they’re not always very big or accessible. Historian and environmental scientist Mark Butz explains.

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