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Are all Canberrans equal? Oaks Estate residents might well wonder

Maryann Mussared 4 November 2016 25

In the run-up to the recent ACT Election, a slightly Orwellian situation became apparent.   It seems that all Canberrans are equal, only some Canberrans are more equal than others.  There are Canberrans whose suburbs get their public land mown regularly, and those that seem not to. I was taken aback when I visited Oaks Estate last week (and yes, it is still a surprise to many that it is actually in the ACT) to find the small central Gillespie Park knee-high in grass and weeds.  It was a lovely spring day and there was no one in the park.  I was later told that it wasn’t actually snakes that are the principal problem, but rather needles discarded in the long grass.   Although the park and the adjacent public land has now been mown, and the online mowing chart now shows Oaks Estate is scheduled every four weeks during the warmer months, it is a small victory.  The residents of Oaks Estate have experienced many decades of broken promises and the inability of previous governments to do what they are voted in to do, and that is look after all the people of Canberra equally.

 

gillespie-park

Gillespie Park located on the corner of River Road and Hazel Street, Oaks Estate.

 

So for those who are new to Canberra and have never stumbled across this quaint little hamlet sheltering in a bend in the Molonglo River where it meets the Queanbeyan River, what is there and what was all the fuss about in the lead up to the recent ACT election?

To start, there are a number of very charming, old and rustic buildings that are in dire need of heritage management.  Oaks Estate is part of the region’s early colonial heritage, with many buildings dating from the middle of the 19th century, and it is located away from the rest of Canberra right on the border of NSW near Queanbeyan.

In the 1970s, a number of blocks of flats were built that are now used for public housing, and this has resulted in a much higher than average rate of public housing tenants.  These members of our community experience disadvantage for a number of reasons, but not least is that the housing provided is below standard and through no fault of their own, they are physically removed from the sort of amenity that could improve their lives.  Residents pay excessively high rates, especially considering very little is provided in exchange.  Unlike the rest of Canberra, Oaks Estate doesn’t have an ACTION bus route that would take residents direct to Civic and to the local community service in Narrabundah whose Food Bank would be of use to some of the disadvantaged and elderly residents.

 

rail-bridge-over-molonglo-river

View over the Queanbeyan River and rail-bridge built in about 1887  from Oaks Estate

So who cares about the Oaks Estate?   There is a passionate and engaged group of people who live there who want a better life for all residents.  It has become apparent that despite the best efforts of Oaks Estate Progress Association (OEPA) and the energy of people like its Vice President Hugh Griffin, enormous effort has been put into identifying the major issues and seeking assistance, but the right sort of doors remain firmly closed.  But this isn’t a community that has asked for help, been rejected and gone away quietly.   They have honestly and consistently identified what needs to be done and now the ACT Government and the various Ministers responsible need to take a long hard look at all the issues that affect this community and come up with progressive and equitable solutions.

The sorts of things that provide the ‘glue’ that keeps a community together are actually being driven from within the community.  There is a community garden which although currently under-subscribed, will become part of a greater plan to use adjacent currently vacant land to build a community orchard.  Through sheer determination, the residents have got a commitment from a few sources to get a public toilet built and this will connect with the orchard.   A more regular mow of the small park would do an enormous amount to encourage usage.  There is also an absence of activities that could bring the community together, and something as simple as a Men’s Shed would be a positive and useful activity for the many unemployed and older residents.

community-garden-oaks-estate

 

Unfortunately, the only shop is a bottle shop, although there is a small but interesting mix of commercial residents, including two nurseries, an antique conservation business and Japanese wood artist Hiroshi Yamaguchi has just moved his studio workshop into William Street.    I am sure there are people who are able to overlook some of the more obvious flaws of life in Oaks Estate and take delight in the rural setting, views of the river and wildlife.  However, Oaks Estate remains in a state of flux with people struggling with a vision that could provide transformation, and finding it difficult to move forward because of so many unresolved issues.

So, as a reminder, there were four major concerns identified and discussed publicly prior to the election:

  • The first was a request for an ACTION bus to connect the community directly to the centre of Canberra.
  • The second issue concerned the preservation of the heritage of Oaks Estate. In a city sadly depleted of early buildings, I was perplexed when I discovered the issues the Heritage Council has had with finalising the heritage precinct nomination, especially as three expert reports have recommended strong heritage protection for the village.  The 2013 Heritage Assessment is quite clear in its recommendations and ongoing uncertainty regarding heritage listing will deter people who may be interested in restoring the old homes of Oaks Estate
  • The third issue is the high percentage of public housing tenants, housed in below standard studio and one-bedroom flats that provide low levels of comfort and poor outcomes in terms of amenity and insulation. This housing should be immediately included in the Public Housing Renewal Program and updated as in other Canberra suburbs.
  • The fourth and final issue is road and pedestrian safety. On my recent visits, I experienced heavy and fast moving traffic along Railway Street and an official survey has provided a figure of over 4,000 cars a day.  The adjacent streets such as Hazel Street and McEwan Avenue also experience quite a lot of traffic and installation of traffic calming devices would make life a lot safer for both drivers and pedestrians and assist in retaining the village atmosphere

antique-conservation

And so to the future, and we must remember this is a community that is motivated and wants to move forward.   It would be reassuring to imagine there will be some positive changes soon:  provision of an adequate ACTION bus services to connect Oaks Estate with the rest of Canberra;  a heritage plan will be approved that nuts out the needs of the people who love their old homes to allow them to sympathetically restore and extend; a complete audit made of the public housing to improve the quality of accommodation whilst also reducing the quantity to, at the very least, match the Canberra average; and Roads ACT takes a good look at what is needed to make the roads safe for children, the elderly, pets, visitors following the heritage trail  and local motorists.

We have just started a new term of government.  If someone who has the power to implement change is brave enough to just acknowledge that something needs to be done, it will be a start.    The system has broken down and to an outsider it looks like this is a community that is living on a knife edge.  What needs to happen to make the rest of Canberra start to take an interest in this level of inequality and the all too obvious potential for tragedy?


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Are all Canberrans equal? Oaks Estate residents might well wonder
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dungfungus 11:37 am 24 Nov 16

Maryann Mussared said :

wildturkeycanoe said :

I do not see why Oakes Estate needs traffic calming measures, as there are no streets that carry traffic through from Queanbeyan to Pialligo Avenue, only local traffic. As such, the problem drivers are probably local residents. If this is a regular occurrence by repeat offenders I am sure a phone call to the authorities would bring about swift enforcement of the law. Why punish all the residents with the noisy and inconvenient obstructions known as speed bumps? You are right.
I have never before considered the effect these traffic calming measures have on people with bad backs, but now that I have suffered with that affliction it has certainly made me well aware of the results. Any large bump or pothole drives a wave of pain through the spine, adding to the discomfort of sitting in a position that doesn’t help with the symptoms. Why would anybody wish these bumps on any road let alone their own neighborhood? I can guarantee that months after installation the residents will be requesting they be removed due to being noisy and causing hoons to do burnouts on them. The constant braking and accelerating by all vehicles unless they are game enough to fly over them will wear out brakes and tyres, create more worn shock absorbers and increase emissions due to the need to slow down and speed up again.
Why do we ask the government to fix our roads after every unseasonal downpour, to repair the craters that keep expanding and then ask the government to deliberately place similar obstructions on suburban streets?

Speed bumps would not work on Railway Street. It is a bit of a speedway, so lowering the speed limit and regular speed camera presence might help.

If you like new German technology applied to speed bumps, check this out:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0_qq56LVDXk

Maryann Mussared 11:04 am 24 Nov 16

wildturkeycanoe said :

I do not see why Oakes Estate needs traffic calming measures, as there are no streets that carry traffic through from Queanbeyan to Pialligo Avenue, only local traffic. As such, the problem drivers are probably local residents. If this is a regular occurrence by repeat offenders I am sure a phone call to the authorities would bring about swift enforcement of the law. Why punish all the residents with the noisy and inconvenient obstructions known as speed bumps? You are right.
I have never before considered the effect these traffic calming measures have on people with bad backs, but now that I have suffered with that affliction it has certainly made me well aware of the results. Any large bump or pothole drives a wave of pain through the spine, adding to the discomfort of sitting in a position that doesn’t help with the symptoms. Why would anybody wish these bumps on any road let alone their own neighborhood? I can guarantee that months after installation the residents will be requesting they be removed due to being noisy and causing hoons to do burnouts on them. The constant braking and accelerating by all vehicles unless they are game enough to fly over them will wear out brakes and tyres, create more worn shock absorbers and increase emissions due to the need to slow down and speed up again.
Why do we ask the government to fix our roads after every unseasonal downpour, to repair the craters that keep expanding and then ask the government to deliberately place similar obstructions on suburban streets?

Speed bumps would not work on Railway Street. It is a bit of a speedway, so lowering the speed limit and regular speed camera presence might help.

Maryann Mussared 11:00 am 24 Nov 16

ungruntled said :

“ACT Government and the various Ministers responsible need to take a long hard look at all the issues that affect this community and come up with progressive and equitable solutions.”
That “progressive & equitable” is a major problem, right there. This is not something that is within their paradigm – they are, as a group, totally incapable of thinking or working in any way “outside the box” & if the issues of the tram are anything to go by, equity is not an issue they have any truck with either. (Maximum of 10% of Canberran’s will have access & all pay – through the nose.) However, Canberrans voted for it, apparently, so I guess we get what we deserve!

“and installation of traffic calming devices would make life a lot safer for both drivers and pedestrians”
Be careful what you wish for. The comment above relates directly to this. Because our Assembly is petrified to do anything that hasn’t been being done for the last 100years, the “traffic calming measures” they choose are out of date & VERY likely to be damaging to people with spinal injuries. There are more modern options available (eg non neutonian fluids filled ridges, which go flat if you pass over them at the correct speed, but remain ridgid if you exceed the speed), but it’s too new for our Assembly.

This is very new technology – and I love the sound of it. It looks as though the patent is pending http://www.google.ch/patents/US20100202830
is certainly a vast improvement on our current speed bumps. I used to travel daily along the infamous Spofforth Street, Holt until I was forced to find ‘alternative routes’ and used to course when I forgot and found myself negotiating those dreaded bumps. How did one street get thirteen speed humps? Back to Railway Street, which is the boundary between Oaks Estate and Queanbeyan and endures heavy traffic night and day – official numbers say 4,000 but someone at Capital Flowers said more like 5,000. McEwan Street is also very busy.

wildturkeycanoe 7:09 am 24 Nov 16

I do not see why Oakes Estate needs traffic calming measures, as there are no streets that carry traffic through from Queanbeyan to Pialligo Avenue, only local traffic. As such, the problem drivers are probably local residents. If this is a regular occurrence by repeat offenders I am sure a phone call to the authorities would bring about swift enforcement of the law. Why punish all the residents with the noisy and inconvenient obstructions known as speed bumps?
I have never before considered the effect these traffic calming measures have on people with bad backs, but now that I have suffered with that affliction it has certainly made me well aware of the results. Any large bump or pothole drives a wave of pain through the spine, adding to the discomfort of sitting in a position that doesn’t help with the symptoms. Why would anybody wish these bumps on any road let alone their own neighborhood? I can guarantee that months after installation the residents will be requesting they be removed due to being noisy and causing hoons to do burnouts on them. The constant braking and accelerating by all vehicles unless they are game enough to fly over them will wear out brakes and tyres, create more worn shock absorbers and increase emissions due to the need to slow down and speed up again.
Why do we ask the government to fix our roads after every unseasonal downpour, to repair the craters that keep expanding and then ask the government to deliberately place similar obstructions on suburban streets?

ungruntled 7:49 pm 23 Nov 16

“ACT Government and the various Ministers responsible need to take a long hard look at all the issues that affect this community and come up with progressive and equitable solutions.”
That “progressive & equitable” is a major problem, right there. This is not something that is within their paradigm – they are, as a group, totally incapable of thinking or working in any way “outside the box” & if the issues of the tram are anything to go by, equity is not an issue they have any truck with either. (Maximum of 10% of Canberran’s will have access & all pay – through the nose.) However, Canberrans voted for it, apparently, so I guess we get what we deserve!

“and installation of traffic calming devices would make life a lot safer for both drivers and pedestrians”
Be careful what you wish for. The comment above relates directly to this. Because our Assembly is petrified to do anything that hasn’t been being done for the last 100years, the “traffic calming measures” they choose are out of date & VERY likely to be damaging to people with spinal injuries. There are more modern options available (eg non neutonian fluids filled ridges, which go flat if you pass over them at the correct speed, but remain ridgid if you exceed the speed), but it’s too new for our Assembly.

JC 10:58 pm 12 Nov 16

A_Cog said :

JC said :

Bus 838 leaves oaks estate at 7:54 and connects with the 8:05 bus to Civic which arrives at 8:42.

Ummm, that’s the school service. The next bus (at 840am) makes it impossible for Oaks Estate residents to rely on getting to work before 930am – that’s even if they have jobs. Remember that Oaks Estate has 55% public housing and suffers a functional (real) unemployment rate of around 50% – with a significant reason for unemployment being the lack of a regular (30 or 60 minute) ACTION bus.

Let’s get down to brass tacks, JC.

(1) Tharwa and Uriarra – no comparison. (2) The City Loop bus in the city is FREE, it helps people WHO ALREADY HAVE JOBS swan around to catch up with mates for coffee, there are FORTY-NINE buses each day, and each bus carries ONLY SIX passengers on average. (3) ACTION gets $96m in Community Service Obligation funding from the ACT Govt.

I cannot think of a community the government is more obliged to service than the government’s own ghetto.

At this point, you really should agree.

Umm not according to the timetable.

http://www.qcitytransit.com.au/pdf/timetables-2015/qcitytimetable_832-850.pdf

Nothing to suggest it is a school bus though to be honest school kids are probably the main users.

And the next bus the 840 is an ondemand bus. You need to call and book.

As for why people are unemployed I seriously doubt the lack of a bus contributes to that at all. I would say those that are living there if they lived anywhere else in the ACt would still be unemployed.

As discussed in other threads the real issue isn’t lack of a bus but the simple fact there is ACT government housing out there. There should be none only private housing where people buy or rent privately knowing full well what services or lack there if there is out there.

PS if these people are genuinely capable of work then they should be capable of walking to the nearest bus stop on the direct bus to Canberra too. A bus that runs very regularly. Just like others do elsewhere in the city.

aussie2 4:11 pm 12 Nov 16

Fascinating article. Also interesting in that some believe, including Minister Fitzharris, that the residents should get a bus to Queanbeyan, then redirect to Civic. What bunkum Minister! You have no idea. Did you ever ask the residents what they wanted by way of public transport. No wonder few use ACTION-you don’t actually go out of your way to meet people’s needs. SHAME! SHAME! Still creating a THEM AND US environment!

wildturkeycanoe 6:59 am 12 Nov 16

I still can’t understand why a bus is so necessary in a suburb that will probably only have a couple of people aboard on every second, third or fourth service.
I also can’t understand why Oakes estate residents don’t get off their backsides and walk for less than a kilometre to the bus stop in Queanbeyan if they need to go to Canberra for appointments.
The argument that you need to leave the day before in order to make a 9:00 AM appointment in Civic is also incorrect as pointed out by JC, plus the 830 bus also gets you there with a total walking distance of less than a kilometre and you arrive at 8:42 AM. To get to the City from Macgregor by 9:00 AM, I have to walk more than a kilometre and it will arrive there later than the Oakes estate bus, depending if I leave at a comparable time.

The real issue here isn’t that the services these people want aren’t available, but that the services they “want” aren’t at their doorstep every minute of the day that is convenient for them. Well, I am sorry to say that nobody always gets what they want, when and where they want it, that is just part of life. If you have ended up destitute, living in a shanty town far from civilization [which Oakes estate is not considering its proximity to Queanbeyan], due to your life choices, why should it be the responsibility of the ratepayer to provide heavily subsidized transport and government services at your doorstep?
The times in my own life that I was without my own means of transport, it was exactly the same. I had to use the public transport system to get around. Sure there are poorly connected routes and limitations, but these are designed around sustainability and not for the needs of just a couple of people for a bi-annual trip for specialist medical appointments. You plan ahead, make arrangements to get to places. If it means saving up a few dollars for a taxi or walking an extra twenty minutes to get to a bus route, then you do that. If you can’t walk that far, then get disability services to assist you, I’m sure there are ways for impaired people to attend distant appointments without relying on the public transport system.
But are we talking about a large group of people who physically are not able to get to the bus in Queanbeyan, or a large group of people who are too lazy to use their own two feet?
That is what I’d like to know, in order to end this debate about the lack of transport facilities in Oakes Estate. Is it a genuine need or a sense of entitlement?

A_Cog 7:41 pm 11 Nov 16

JC said :

Bus 838 leaves oaks estate at 7:54 and connects with the 8:05 bus to Civic which arrives at 8:42.

Ummm, that’s the school service. The next bus (at 840am) makes it impossible for Oaks Estate residents to rely on getting to work before 930am – that’s even if they have jobs. Remember that Oaks Estate has 55% public housing and suffers a functional (real) unemployment rate of around 50% – with a significant reason for unemployment being the lack of a regular (30 or 60 minute) ACTION bus.

Let’s get down to brass tacks, JC.

(1) Tharwa and Uriarra – no comparison. (2) The City Loop bus in the city is FREE, it helps people WHO ALREADY HAVE JOBS swan around to catch up with mates for coffee, there are FORTY-NINE buses each day, and each bus carries ONLY SIX passengers on average. (3) ACTION gets $96m in Community Service Obligation funding from the ACT Govt.

I cannot think of a community the government is more obliged to service than the government’s own ghetto.

At this point, you really should agree.

JC 2:05 pm 11 Nov 16

Leon Arundell said :

JC said :

The Action bus issue is really a non issue. Oaks Estate is serviced by Q City buses to both Woden and Civic with frequencies most Canberra suburbs could only dream of…

Google Maps recently told me that If I wanted to get to Civic by 9am on a Monday from the Oaks Estate, I would have to leave on Sunday.

Bus 838 leaves oaks estate at 7:54 and connects with the 8:05 bus to Civic which arrives at 8:42.

dungfungus 10:20 am 11 Nov 16

Leon Arundell said :

JC said :

The Action bus issue is really a non issue. Oaks Estate is serviced by Q City buses to both Woden and Civic with frequencies most Canberra suburbs could only dream of…

Google Maps recently told me that If I wanted to get to Civic by 9am on a Monday from the Oaks Estate, I would have to leave on Sunday.

And that’s the Express service!

Leon Arundell 9:28 am 11 Nov 16

JC said :

The Action bus issue is really a non issue. Oaks Estate is serviced by Q City buses to both Woden and Civic with frequencies most Canberra suburbs could only dream of…

Google Maps recently told me that If I wanted to get to Civic by 9am on a Monday from the Oaks Estate, I would have to leave on Sunday.

dungfungus 9:50 am 07 Nov 16

joingler said :

If the Labor government keep claiming that a bus service to OAks Estate is unviable, that’s fine. They should just make sure that any person reliant on bus services (the majority of the Oaks Estate population) live somewhere else in the ACT where there are services that meet the needs of these people.

If the Labor government want to put a large number of vulnerable people in Oaks Estate, that is fine as well. They should also provide services that meet the needs of these people in Oaks Estate.

Labor need to decide quickly whether to give the residents of Oaks Estate the services they need or to start moving some of the most needy people in the territory to other parts of Canberra with those services.

The response Barr gave on Oaks Estate before the election was a long list of tokenistic actions that did nothing for the people of the suburb

http://the-riotact.com/barr-responds-on-oaks-estate/186184

Very few of the services that ACTION provide are “viable”, so why should Oaks Estate miss out?

If the question of viability is raised, why is Transport Canberra proceeding with the light rail which will require annual subsidies of more that half of what we are already paying ACTION yet ACTION does all of Canberra (except Oaks Estate).

Masquara 4:41 pm 05 Nov 16

No possibility of swinging a single vote in Oak’s Estate, right?

A_Cog 12:20 pm 05 Nov 16

JC said :

The Action bus issue is really a non issue. Oaks Estate is serviced by Q City buses to both Woden and Civic with frequencies most Canberra suburbs could only dream of. With bus fares subsidised by the ACT government to levels that are on par with Action fares…

So wrong. The Q-City bus takes residents to Queanbeyan, not Woden or Civic, AND it only comes a few times a day, AND the times are not useful for jobs/training/services, AND there’s only 1 bus home, at 415pm (so you’d have to leave Woden or Civic at 313pm to get to QBN to get back home)…

As for your reference to Tharwa and Uriarra, those suburbs are not 55% public housing with real (functional) unemployment rates of ~50%, with rates of no car ownership 4 times the ACT average, and extreme concentrations of disadvantage due to concentrating disability clients, etc.

I can trot out factual stats all day, and it reminds me of the great ‘Cab Driver’ joke by Stewart Lee… “well, you can prove anything with facts, I prefer to rely on instinct and blind prejudice…”

joingler 11:27 am 05 Nov 16

If the Labor government keep claiming that a bus service to OAks Estate is unviable, that’s fine. They should just make sure that any person reliant on bus services (the majority of the Oaks Estate population) live somewhere else in the ACT where there are services that meet the needs of these people.

If the Labor government want to put a large number of vulnerable people in Oaks Estate, that is fine as well. They should also provide services that meet the needs of these people in Oaks Estate.

Labor need to decide quickly whether to give the residents of Oaks Estate the services they need or to start moving some of the most needy people in the territory to other parts of Canberra with those services.

The response Barr gave on Oaks Estate before the election was a long list of tokenistic actions that did nothing for the people of the suburb

http://the-riotact.com/barr-responds-on-oaks-estate/186184

miz 7:36 am 05 Nov 16

Yes Oaks Estate is probably the worst example of unequal access to services (though it’s definitely not alone – I recall the ACT Govt unbelievably trying to relocate some of gorgeous old traditional street lights from Narrabundah to the Kingston Foreshore a few years ago). There is nowhere in the ACT is so ‘remote’ that poorer municipal services are acceptable.
I know I’ve said it before but an audit of where our rates go is sorely needed. Rates, like any tax, are for the good of the community as a whole and maintaining good services makes people proud of their locale, instead of ashamed or embarrassed. I am pretty ashamed and embarrassed by how Canberra looks to my visiting friends these days, and it is galling to think we pay such high rates with such poor evidence of any value for money.

wildturkeycanoe 7:01 am 05 Nov 16

Sports ovals and reserves everywhere in Canberra get to the same level of growth when it rains like it has done so for the last season, so inevitably it will take a while for the mowing crew to get done. Why should Oakes Estate be a high priority over other areas of Canberra?
JC has said all the other things I would have pointed out, well done. By the way, used syringes are not unique to Gillespie Park. What would you have done about it? Lock it up overnight to prevent users from shooting up there, have a ranger patrol it every morning, evict the drug using scum from the town? Is this really a problem about government services or a social issue that needs to be addressed worldwide?
As for the heritage assessment, the Great Barrier Reef is much more popular and valued than Oakes Estate and even it cannot be protected from the future. With all the bleaching of corals and inevitable dredging that goes hand in hand with the proposed Coal mine Adani is so desperate to build and the Queensland government seems happy to sell to them at the right price, the world heritage status means absolutely nothing when economic benefits outweigh the natural world.
I am slightly confused as to your concerns over the heritage listing. Would you rather Oakes Estate is protected, making renovations of the run down buildings much more expensive, reducing the values of houses due to the restrictions placed upon them? Or is demolishing the the old buildings and constructing modern, energy efficient habitats to the benefit of the disadvantaged residents more to your liking? If the heritage council decided tomorrow that yes, Oakes Estate is to be protected for posterity, nobody would be able to install modern heating and cooling, the insulation in the old homes would make climate control very energy inefficient and expensive. The rules regarding modifications and such would make it hard for people to consider moving there and inevitably it will remain a run down old dump, devaluing the land whilst rates increase to pay for the extra services the current residents are crying out for.
As for the pedestrian issue, there is an off road footpath along the length of Railway Street. What is the big deal? If cars are speeding along there, then call the police to book them. It isn’t a requirement that those annoying and noisy speed bumps need to be put on every suburban street that has high volumes of traffic. I also wonder why there are so many vehicle movements on a street that services a “hamlet” with less than 300 people, most of whom are apparently disadvantaged and don’t drive. This doesn’t gel with the theory that Oakes Estate needs more public transport. You cannot argue for both cases, they are in contradiction with each other.

gazket 9:06 pm 04 Nov 16

The Labor Greens want to trade Oaks Estate for Ginninderra Falls .

Maryann Mussared 8:32 pm 04 Nov 16

Blen_Carmichael said :

“So for those who are new to Canberra and have never stumbled across this quaint little hamlet…”

I take it you’re a real estate agent?

I do admit it is a good time of year to walk around Oaks Estate and everything is green with the good spring rain. I enjoyed watching a kookaburra flying from a verandah across the border in NSW to collect meat, and back to a hole in a tree in William Street to feed its young. There are a lot of well-maintained small 19th century cottages recently painted and some of the later fibro houses have pretty gardens. A good definition of a hamlet is one that doesn’t have any retail amenities. I lived in a hamlet in England that claimed the centre of life for the village was the operating phone box (1980s!), and someone (unpaid) regularly cleaned up the cigarette butts and changed the flowers in a vase in said box. It was a good 20 minute uphill walk to the nearest pub and village store, but worth it.

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