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A more conscientious backpackers view of Canberra

By johnboy 14 October 2008 7

Recently we had a look at one backpacker’s fleeting view of Canberra.

Today I present a more conscientious backpacker’s experience:

    I had read Bill Brysons Down Under before and his account of Canberra would make, well no one, want to visit…… But against his warnings, I felt that I should go and at least see it and the 36 hours I had there was enough – but definitely worth it and I actually really enjoyed my wee holiday from a holiday…..

What’s Your opinion?

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A more conscientious backpackers view of Canberra
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Igglepiggle 8:26 am 15 Oct 08

The first night we moved to Canberra we drove around for ages trying to find somewhere to buy something to eat. Ended up at the little shops in Wanniassa. Still no idea how we managed to miss Tuggeranong town centre AND the Erindale centre. Went and bought a street map the next day.
So I can relate too …

astrojax 5:13 pm 14 Oct 08

I know how easy it is to make a snap judgement on a place based on limited exposure or what the weather is like at the time or if the shops are open or if you can find somewhere to eat or even just some random interaction with a native

like, i hated / hated florence. just didn’t get it. (loved ‘david’, but loathed the rest) got the next train out, went and had a fab few days thereafter on the cinque terra and afterwards entirely dug venice via pisa. just dunno what people see in florence, i really don’t.

New Yeah 4:57 pm 14 Oct 08

Hell yes.

Canberra is made for people like LMT. I’m glad she liked it. Give up on trying to get the sunburnt geezers and target sophistimicated types.

PsydFX 4:24 pm 14 Oct 08

It’s good to see Canberra Tourism being proactive and posting “Travel Blogs”

Woody Mann-Caruso 1:04 pm 14 Oct 08

Bill Bryson had an unfortunate experience in Canberra. Seems he stayed at the Rex thinking he could stroll around the whole city from there. After slogging to the tourist info office thingy, he then tried to walk all the way to Civic. Seems like he got as far as the old Griffin Centre skate park, asked the kids if they knew where he could get a decent meal, they said ‘Pizza Hut’ so he walked all the way back to the Rex and sat in the bar all night. Having spent my first day in Canberra lost in Woden and then thinking Dickson was ‘the city’, I can relate.

Reading his account I wanted to scream “Turn here! Eat there! No, not that way!” Still, his overall opinion of Canberra was spot on – a vast garden in which reside, completely hidden, over 300,000 people – quite an achievement. I hope he comes back.

SamTSeppo 12:30 pm 14 Oct 08

Billy Bryson is an overrated hack of an author. Prior to moving to Canberra I’d heard that “In a Sunburned Country” (US publication title for “Down Under”) was a must-read. Fuhgeddaboutit. In terms of travel writing, below par. I can’t believe how popular he seems to be in Australia, either! C’mon, folks. Seriously.

Anyways, perfect example is his description of Canberra. This is obviously a man who travels to places on a purely superficial level. ZOMG AWEEOME THE ROCKS. “Yes, but what else did you see in Sydney?” I DUNNO I ONLY GO WHERE THE BRIDGE IS.

And likewise with Canberra. He didn’t scratch the surface, and didn’t seem to have any inclination of digging deeper. That’s travel writing at its basest.

Overheard 12:25 pm 14 Oct 08

Bryson’s comments about Canberra were a bit unfortunate, but having travelled a bit OS, I know how easy it is to make a snap judgement on a place based on limited exposure or what the weather is like at the time or if the shops are open or if you can find somewhere to eat or even just some random interaction with a native (as was Bryson’s case — or natives, more accurately).

Quick personal example: last Thursday I rocked up to the Office Services section of my main employer in Melbourne, slightly flustered, red in the face (see other thread on parkour) and the first person I encountered saw my visitor pass, stuck out a hand and said, ‘G’day mate. I don’t work in Office Services, but welcome to Melbourne.’

My day still turned to custard, but what a great start?

As for Bryson, while he makes me laugh like a drain, and I value some of his observations, and while his ‘Troublesome Words’ is constantly on one of my desks and is my bible, just read ‘The Mother Tongue’ and read his observations on Australian English. When you see by how much he misses the mark, you’ll understand how to read and judge his comments on Canberra.

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