27 August 2022

A racetrack and 8 other things you think Canberra needs

| James Coleman
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Does Canberra need more of this action? You certainly thought so. Photo: James Coleman.

More music festivals? A new stadium? A raceway? Revisit Starbucks again? We couldn’t put our finger on what Canberra is missing out on, so we decided to ask you.

We put out a call on Facebook and asked what Canberra needs – and you didn’t hold back, with more than 1000 responses recorded.

After all, as Kim says: “We are the nation’s capital, we should act and present like it”.

Here’s what came out in the comments (loud and mostly clear).

1. Motorsports complex

“You only have to look at the burnout marks on every street to know we need proper motorsport facilities,” Paul says.

Canberra did have a drag strip out by the airport in the early 1990s, but the tarmac has long been absorbed by nature. We also hosted an annual V8 Supercars event on a street circuit in the Parliamentary Triangle from 2000 to 2002. But ever since then, it’s been dead quiet on the motorsport front. The nearest race track is Wakefield Park, 10 minutes from Goulburn, but that isn’t in such a good way at the moment.

As Jason says, “The greatest thing Canberra ever had was the V8s and Canberra closed it down, and thought a flower show would cover it!”

Anohs says we need “somewhere for the hoons to get hooning out of their system, rather than on the street”.

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Baz suggests this takes the form of a dedicated motorsport and driver education facility with classrooms and accommodation on-site.

Mitch Hackett adds in racing, drifting, drags and “everything in between” while Peter goes the whole hog with a motocross track, road racing circuit, jet boats, dirt track, monster trucks, rallycross, endurance racing, hill climb track, BMX track, drifting pan and burnout patch.

Jackson reckons this would not only solve a lot of problems but also create “jobs and money”. But Colin says it needs to be located away from the “anti-motorsport members of the public” so it doesn’t suffer the same fate as Wakefield Park.

Canberra Hospital

Is it time Canberra scored another hospital? Photo: File.

2. Children’s hospital

Sarah had to go to Sydney recently for reconstructive surgery because the “waiting lists are so long in Canberra”. She says we need more specialist coverage and a dedicated children’s hospital.

Sam also rattles off a children’s hospital, followed by more psychologists and psychiatrists, and bulk-billed general practitioners with actual availability.

Kirsten wants more staff and beds in the hospitals, more available and cost-effective mental health services, and “less monopoly of private doctors versus bulk-billed or subsidised services”.

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Mary says our nurses need better working conditions across the board and more specialists. Catherine also says we need more specialists in the fields of paediatrics, speech pathology and psychology because of the ridiculous wait lists.

“And more bulk-billing GPs,” she adds.

3. Stadium

Alison says travelling to Sydney or Melbourne every time a high-flying artist comes to Australia isn’t always possible, so we need something that will attract “big stage shows like Moulin Rouge and big concerts like when Pink used to play here”.

Lyn says a place like Luna Park would mean those from not only Canberra but also beyond would “come here to have fun instead of going to Sydney or Melbourne”.

Jen says it should take the form of a “proper theatre and concert venue” capable of seating between 500 and 700 people and “that isn’t attached to an overpaid private school”.

Rugby game at Canberra Stadium

The Brumbies versus Waratahs game at the Canberra Stadium. Photo: Jennifer Andrew.

Melissa is more forthright.

“A NEW STADIUM!!! Sports, concerts, shows!”

Canberra currently has a few sports stadiums, notably the AIS Arena and GIO Stadium, but both of these are in the far north. Skye reckons we need a new one smack bang in the middle “in the city”.

4. More mountain biking

Brendon reckons that with very little investment, the ACT Government could take our ‘Bush Capital’ status and turn us into an “epic mountain-biking destination”.

“They’ve literally spent millions on consultants to produce glossy brochures that say the same.”

After all, we already know the Snowy Mountains host the nation’s version of Tour de France and that’s only a two-hour drive away …

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5. Fewer potholes

It’s a bugbear of Canberra’s motorists, especially after a sopping wet three years. But enough is enough, it seems.

“Potholes to be fixed,” Ian says.

“We need the potholes filled and roads and carparks repaired,” Janet says.

Kit broadens it to better road planning, using “underpasses and bridges like the older precincts, instead of traffic lights every 10 metres and messes like the Barton Highway roundabout traffic lights”.

Lake Burley Griffin

The blue-green waters of Lake Burley Griffin. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

6. A giant chlorine tablet

Greg nails it, while Malcolm goes a step further.

“A plug that can be pulled out of Lake Burley Griffin.”

Evan might have a point though: “Can you imagine what you’d find in LBG if you could see to the bottom?”

7. More pools

So, Plan B:

“Resort-style pools,” Becky says. “I can’t understand why a city so far from the ocean has such a poor selection of pools to go to in the hot summer months.”

This could take the form of “one big beach at the Molonglo end of LBG and a big spa”.

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In among his suggestions for a theme park, Taco Bell joint, and fewer snobs, Jake mentions a “wake park and better water park”.

“A wave pool,” adds Shawn.

All of these ideas wouldn’t necessarily be limited to the warmer months either. With Michael’s suggestion to fit a “very large, revolving, outdoor heater to Black Mountain Tower”, the city could be kept balmy all year round. Probably.

8. More money

As a way of bringing it all together, Peter says rather than increase taxes, the Government should look at ways of increasing revenue.

“Think a new stadium in the city for sports and concerts, as well as a new conference centre. Develop Manuka Oval to increase the strength of a Big Bash League and AFL local team. Bring back the GMC 400 and utilise the lake for powered water sports.

“Just a few ideas, but we need to bring cash into the ACT. Once that happens we will have the funds to build other infrastructure.”

Belco Owl

Should we have a Kath and Kim sculpture? Lee thinks so. Photo: Region.

9. Less of Colin

Colin says what Canberra needs most is for his family to move to northern Australia.

“Would be great.”

Other honourable mentions

Lee suggests we could grace our city with another art installation, but this time in the form of a “yuuuge statue of Kath and Kim as a national monument to our cultyaa”.

Stephen says we could all play a game of “Spot the Prime Minister”.

Izzeden just wants plastic straws and cutlery back.

And as for Starbucks making a comeback …

“Definitely NOT Starbucks,” Erin says. “I love Canberra’s cafe culture and Starbucks would ruin it.”

Or as Michelle says, “We don’t need the likes of Starbucks in Canberra, they’ve been here and failed already!”

Unless you’re Donna, that is.

“Did somebody say Starbucks Australia? Yaaaaaaaaaas! Pleeeeeeeeeeeeease! My vote counts twice cause I like them sooooooo much.”

Did we miss anything?

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Leon Arundell4:10 pm 02 Sep 22

Does anybody agree with the Chief Minister that Canberra needs a $1.5 billion project that will add ten minutes to public transport travel time between Woden and Civic, and will deliver only 60 cents worth of benefits for each $1 invested?

We need to deal with all residents essential needs for easy access to nature, to transport, the health facilities, to education and work. One small city can’t cater for everyone’s hobbies and interests (eg those that require massive facilities, unless placed further out), but we do pretty well here, with much just outside Canberra to fill in the gaps.

The biggest need is better public transport so people can get to all places easily and quickly without a car. This would make it easier for all people (including children, those without cars, disabled people and tourists) to get to facilities wherever they are. It would also reduce traffic and pollution, better nurture our trees and parks, making it a better place to walk & cycle. As a small place, it shouldn’t be so hard to get around without a car.

Some time ago there was a drag way (strip) near the Canberra airport. Many young persons visited there on weekends and it was used during Summernats. A well know Canberra identity Chic Henry the founder of Summernats who sadly recently passed away was instrumental in providing a place for young person to not only display their motor vehicles but also to engage in some form of motor sport. At Chic’s memorial at EPIC hundreds of friends attended to farewell him. SA number of Canberra politicians attended including Shane Rattenberry.
Sadly a venue for young people to perform some type of motor sport is lacking. The venue neat the airport could be resurrected by Government or by private companies, perhaps from the Motor Vehicle Traders. If so it could provide a supervised venue where young enthusiasts can enter as competitors and race against the clock and enjoy their modified or standard motor vehicles. A small entrance fee, scrutineered vehicle to ensure it is safe, a helmet and fire extinguisher then ready to be competitive. If this was to be prioritised by government then perhaps much of the racing and foolishness could be limited and may in fact save lives. I have raised this with a number of friends who believe it could be the answer if implemented. I am sure a number of Canberra’s car clubs would be on board with this suggestion.

Hospitals, schools and Universities etc, great!

Everyone else, please think about paying for your own sporting and cultural interests – or at the very least make a decent contribution yourself.

Definitely a racetrack for events and can take our own cars to. I’d also recommend a regular (monthly at least) weekend street food festival since theses are always packed out whenever they are held.

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