Skip to content Skip to main navigation

Lifestyle

Get RSM on your side at tax time.

An Open Letter to Ant Sharwood

By Alexandra Craig - 9 October 2014 15

canberra

Dear Ant,

You published an article this week on news.com.au saying that Canberra is not the best city in the world, despite the OECD saying so.

We all think it was a bit mean, but we’re used to Canberra bashing so we can take it – well, most of us can anyway. However, your article presented a very one-sided view of Canberra.  You said you lived here in 2004. That was 10 years ago. Canberra has changed a lot since then – how often do you come back?

I know you describe our roundabouts as befuddling, and you complain about how long it takes for the traffic lights to change but I will happily take these any day instead of dealing with Sydney or Melbourne’s road problems.

Our roundabouts can be confusing at first, but if you take a wrong turn just drive for 100 metres and you’ll find another roundabout where you can turn around and be back on your way (you’ll never get lost on William Slim Drive). Try doing that in Sydney – you’ll be greeted with a plethora of one way roads and streets that lead to nowhere.

Some traffic lights in Canberra are slow. Some lights in Sydney and Melbourne are faster. We know. But it will still take you longer to get to your destination in Sydney, even with the fast traffic lights. Canberra’s peak hour lasts about 15 minutes and you can drive anywhere in Canberra and it will take you 20 minutes. How’s that for maximum efficiency.

We have great restaurants in Canberra, and we have the most restaurants per capita in Australia. Talk about being spoilt for choice. Next time you decide to pay us a visit, why not take a meal at Ottoman in Barton, eightysix in Braddon, or a delicious brunch at Pod Food or Poachers Pantry? I guarantee they will exceed your expectations. It’s not impossible to get a last-minute booking either.

Our scenery is the best. We have so many luscious trees and beautiful wildlife, a lovely view of the mountains and the best sunsets. We breathe clean, fresh air and the sun always seems to be shining. Our winter is freezing, but who doesn’t love an excuse to rug up in front of a fireplace? Our spring is magnificent – blossoms everywhere you look and the smell of summer is in the air.

Don’t bash Canberra for reasons that have no basis, and don’t encourage your readers to do the same – spend some time here, and I mean proper time here. Not passing through on your way to Sydney or Melbourne, not for a business-related day trip. You have to fully experience Canberra to appreciate its charm.

I’m sorry that you’re not a fan of our wonderful city, but we don’t mind keeping Canberra to ourselves – I’m happy to keep the privilege of a 10 minute commute to work, walking straight into an amazing restaurant for dinner, and being able to breathe fresh air. You’re the one missing out.

Much love,

Alex (and everyone else in Canberra)

 

Tags

What’s Your opinion?


Post a comment
Please login to post your comments, or connect with
15 Responses to
An Open Letter to Ant Sharwood
Ryoma 5:40 pm 10 Oct 14

What, this chestnut again?

Alex, I like what you wrote in the article – but I feel two things need to be said;

1) Ant is free to say whatever he likes about canberra, whether he was born here, lives here or not.
I thought that much of his original article, and his reply below, were fair enough.

2) Why on earth do some Canberrans worry so much about how the city is percieved? If people from elsewhere want to misguidedly talk about how boring/backward etc the place is, let them. After all, the last thing we want is to become a pale carbon copy of a big city.

Maybe Ant just had to write an article in a hurry in order to meet a deadline (maybe you did too? grin)
In which case, it’s pretty predictable clickbait in both (potential) cases, isn’t it?
And the irony is, even knowing it’s clickbait, I’m responding to it – and am laughing to myself as I do it 😀

Like everything else in life, there’s a balance. We can’t all live on giant half-acre blocks and expect light rail at our front doors. By the same token, we can’t expect to enjoy the increasing buzz and sophistication that comes with higher density housing without losing some of the peace and quiet.

Let’s all just (a) satisfy ourselves that we enjoy living in our city
(b) work together towards making it better over time, and
(c) appreciate both going on holidays to other cities to appreciate their special vibe and culture, and to appreciate coming home to Canberra again afterwards.

VYBerlinaV8_is_back 10:17 am 10 Oct 14

JC said :

AntSharwood said :

2. Bad city planning
Canberra is nearly three quarters the size of New York City. Yet it has just 4 per cent of the population. At some point, more medium density housing around the suburban shopping centres is desperately needed, both for convenience and for that urban vibe. Andrew Leigh readily acknowledges this fact

That is a matter of debate actually. Maybe New York City is the city this badly planned. I personally like Canberra being spread out and sparsley populate, to me that is what makes Canberra unique.

Not everyone wants to be living in the inner city, with no room to move, but yeah gee you get some nice restaurants being shoe horned in.

And yet many proponents of light rail and labor fanbois use comparisons with major cities in other parts of the world as evidence as to why Canberra needs to do something. (But that’s how they do it in Copenhagen, dammit).

FWIW, I agree with you.

I liked Ant’s response, too.

JC 11:46 pm 09 Oct 14

AntSharwood said :

2. Bad city planning
Canberra is nearly three quarters the size of New York City. Yet it has just 4 per cent of the population. At some point, more medium density housing around the suburban shopping centres is desperately needed, both for convenience and for that urban vibe. Andrew Leigh readily acknowledges this fact

That is a matter of debate actually. Maybe New York City is the city this badly planned. I personally like Canberra being spread out and sparsley populate, to me that is what makes Canberra unique.

Not everyone wants to be living in the inner city, with no room to move, but yeah gee you get some nice restaurants being shoe horned in.

That also brings me to cities like Sydney and Melbourne etc. When people look at the city they generally only look at the central area’s, but fact is get out in the burbs of those cities it isn’t too dissimilar to Canberra. Except of course all the agro that goes with living in a big city and people going about their business at a million miles an hour.

Postalgeek 8:42 pm 09 Oct 14

Madam Cholet said :

I think we need to get over trying to tell people and just let it go. Many reports back what we know so who cares who’s in and who’s out? Canberrans do need to move on a bit.

I last lived in Sydney in 2003. I left because I hated it for all the reasons you describe. I know that I still dislike it even though I only go there for work these days. I would never bother to go there for a break. Having to visit anyone in Sydney is a real chore (as much as I wish to see them), and it’s never a relaxing event. I know it’s a vibrant and sparkly city with many an attractive feature but it does not suit my sensibilities at all. And it’s obviously the same for this chap except he hates Canberra.

I can’t see the ‘thing’ with Melbourne, detest Brisbane, find Adelaide boring to be in but like Perth and Darwin. Each to their own.

Ssshh, being sensible is unexciting.

chewy14 8:33 pm 09 Oct 14

C’mon,
Everyone surely knows not to take Ant Sherwood’s articles seriously right?

He’s works for news.com and definitely writes for his target market.

I mean, the only people allowed to make fun of our public art are Canberrans. And the fact that he choose the “wide brown land” piece when he had a penis owl to choose from just shows how out of touch with modern day Canberra he really is.

realocal 7:26 pm 09 Oct 14

Lazy writing Ant ….

I think you were trying to be funny but just came over as lazy – trotting out opinions we have heard before. Sorry – your article wasn’t balanced but our city is so lovely and spread out that there is room (even) for you!

Nail 5:30 pm 09 Oct 14

Dear Ant

You’re mean and I don’t like it. I’m going to write a passive aggressive response on the internet and pretend I speak on behalf of ‘everyone else in Canberra’, that’ll show you how intelligent Canberrans are!

sickly sweet sign off to look like I’m a good guy,
Nail

astrojax 2:41 pm 09 Oct 14

AntSharwood said :

And my sixth point which read:

If one thing sums up Canberra, it is this giant poo-like sculpture on the hill at Canberra’s gleaming new National Arboretum. An arboretum, for the record, is basically a great big tree garden. The sculpture, on a bare hilltop, features a famous phrase from of Dorothea McKellar’s poem My Country. Point is, anyone staring at the view can tell that Australia is indeed, yep, a wide brown land. They don’t need a giant brown poo to tell them that.

Cheers – Ant

sixth point should have read – i have no appreciation of art.

there, fixed…

ffs, if this is what you have to use to ‘critique’ canberra, do stay where you are and keep your cronies with you.

oh, and an arboretum is a ‘collection’ of trees – not just a ‘garden’. there is a very real and wonderful and beautiful purpose to this ‘collection’, about which you may care to inform yourself.

Rollersk8r 2:13 pm 09 Oct 14

AntSharwood said :

In particular I would stand behind points 1 and 2 in my list of Canberra’s flaws which read:

1. Hypocrites
You have never, ever in your life seen a city with so many greenies who drive solo to work. That’s because they are shocking hypocrites. For the record, when I lived in Canberra in 2004, I caught the bus to work with a blind colleague. If he could do it, so should the rest of Canberra.

2. Bad city planning
Canberra is nearly three quarters the size of New York City. Yet it has just 4 per cent of the population. At some point, more medium density housing around the suburban shopping centres is desperately needed, both for convenience and for that urban vibe. Andrew Leigh readily acknowledges this fact

1. Rubbish. Perhaps a Venn diagram would help here. Not all Canberrans are drivers and greenies and hypocrites. Besides, ask anyone in Sydney or Melbourne if they’d drive to work if they could (be there in 15 minutes and park for free) and I think most would.

For the record I’ve ridden my bike to school/work (and caught the bus) for over 20 years and it has nothing to do with being a greenie.

2. Completely irrelevant. Canberra’s going great guns – but surprisingly we’re never going to have a population of more than Sydney and Melbourne combined…

PS. I think your mum taught me at Weston Primary?? Only in Canberra eh?

Mysteryman 1:15 pm 09 Oct 14

I think the real question is: who the hell is Ant Sharwood, and why would anyone care, or listen, to what he/she has to say?

I like Canberra – it’s a nice place. The people who don’t like it, can stay away. That step alone would go a long way to making it an even better city.

Madam Cholet 12:41 pm 09 Oct 14

I think we need to get over trying to tell people and just let it go. Many reports back what we know so who cares who’s in and who’s out? Canberrans do need to move on a bit.

I last lived in Sydney in 2003. I left because I hated it for all the reasons you describe. I know that I still dislike it even though I only go there for work these days. I would never bother to go there for a break. Having to visit anyone in Sydney is a real chore (as much as I wish to see them), and it’s never a relaxing event. I know it’s a vibrant and sparkly city with many an attractive feature but it does not suit my sensibilities at all. And it’s obviously the same for this chap except he hates Canberra.

I can’t see the ‘thing’ with Melbourne, detest Brisbane, find Adelaide boring to be in but like Perth and Darwin. Each to their own.

AntSharwood 11:51 am 09 Oct 14

Dear Alexandra. I grew up in both Weston Creek and South Canberra. My mum worked in Tuggeranong and I used to spend weekends swimming at Pine Island. I have walked to the top of nearly every mountain in the Brindabella and Tidbinbilla ranges. I have lived also on the northside as an adult and spend every Christmas at my in-laws place in Belconnen. In short, there is very little about Canberra and surrounds that is unfamiliar to me. There is also very little of it that I do not like.

Yet somehow, because I wrote a balanced article that said Canberra is basically OK but still has some work to do, everyone from Canberra has taken it as Canberra bashing. It is not that. Indeed, many of the commenters on the piece (which you can find here http://www.news.com.au/finance/work/canberra-is-the-best-city-in-the-world-because-the-oecd-says-so-well-see-about-that/story-e6frfm9r-1227082915965) said it was good to have a balanced view.

In particular I would stand behind points 1 and 2 in my list of Canberra’s flaws which read:

1. Hypocrites
You have never, ever in your life seen a city with so many greenies who drive solo to work. That’s because they are shocking hypocrites. For the record, when I lived in Canberra in 2004, I caught the bus to work with a blind colleague. If he could do it, so should the rest of Canberra.

2. Bad city planning
Canberra is nearly three quarters the size of New York City. Yet it has just 4 per cent of the population. At some point, more medium density housing around the suburban shopping centres is desperately needed, both for convenience and for that urban vibe. Andrew Leigh readily acknowledges this fact

And my sixth point which read:

If one thing sums up Canberra, it is this giant poo-like sculpture on the hill at Canberra’s gleaming new National Arboretum. An arboretum, for the record, is basically a great big tree garden. The sculpture, on a bare hilltop, features a famous phrase from of Dorothea McKellar’s poem My Country. Point is, anyone staring at the view can tell that Australia is indeed, yep, a wide brown land. They don’t need a giant brown poo to tell them that.

And that, right there, is your emblem for Canberra. Despite being 101 years old, this city is not yet comfortable enough in its own skin to just be there without telling you it’s there. People say Canberra doesn’t have a soul and they’re right. But before you have a soul you need a personality. You need to be comfortable in your own skin and just be you. Canberra’s still working on all that. But it’s slowly getting there

SO YES ALexandra, I do know and appreciate and even sometimes love Canberra. But the place is still very much a work in progress, which even the staunchest Canberra advocates should be big enough to admit.

Cheers – Ant

Amy Birchall 10:42 am 09 Oct 14

Great piece Alex. I’d take Canberra’s roundabouts, slow traffic lights and a 15-minute commute over crawling through Sydney peak hour any day. Canberra’s certainly not perfect, but it’s a great place to live and work. Anyone who has spent enough time here over the past decade knows that Canberra’s nothing like Sydney or Melbourne, and that it doesn’t pretend to be – you have to love it for what it is.

Rollersk8r 10:39 am 09 Oct 14

I again got sucked in and read this kind of stuff. Unfortunately hard facts about income, education level, air quality, health etc don’t mean anything in the face of “I went there once. It was cr#p”.

I have friends who have lived here in Canberra for over 10 years – but still consider themselves Melbournians. The slightest inconvenience, like waiting for a coffee/food or parking right at the gate of Manuka Oval, is a “typical Canberra stuff up”, which simply does not occur in Melbourne, apparently. I think this really sums it up. A hell of a lot of people are happy to take advantage of what Canberra has to offer, just don’t expect them to take any ownership of it, because then they’d be part of the problem, the butt of jokes etc…

airemale 10:28 am 09 Oct 14

Love your work Alex!!

Related Articles

CBR Tweets

Sign up to our newsletter

Top
Copyright © 2017 Riot ACT Holdings Pty Ltd. All rights reserved.
www.the-riotact.com | www.b2bmagazine.com.au | www.thisiscanberra.com

Search across the site