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Are Canberrans spoilt?

By Suzanne Kiraly - 5 December 2016 17

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I am annoyed at the car in front of me, driving erratically, when there is no need. For goodness’ sake, it only takes 15-20 minutes for most people to drive to work and it’s still so early!

Anyway, I forget it quickly, as I drive through the magnificent local landscapes, glistening in the morning light. So beautiful – I reflect on the fact that such a country vista can even exist, smack-bang in a metropolitan city.

I’m meeting some colleagues for breakfast before work at 7.15am and, on such a beautiful day, I am in good spirits. It took us a while to decide on which café we’d meet in because there are so many good places in the city that serve superb coffee. It’s hard to choose.

I park easily because it’s early and an added bonus is that I don’t have to pay until 9am and I have free parking at work, just ten minutes away from the city. No sweat. A short stroll later, I enter the café and find the group already ordering.

  • a short black with some hot water on the side
  • a decaf, soy flat white, but make it very hot
  • a double shot cappuccino with no chocolate on top  made with skim milk, not too hot
  • a latté made with soy and weak
  • a chai tea with milk and hot water on the side
  • a dirty chai – go easy on the “dirty”

I smile to myself as I listen to them ordering, envisioning the waiter telling the barista “four coffees and two chai teas”, and then I join in.

We have a very pleasant time at the café as we discuss what we are doing on the weekend (it is Friday after all), and there are so many choices. There is a festival (isn’t there always?), several theatre events, two great literary events, some amazing amateur shows, concerts, a car exhibition, and several sporting events, not to mention garage sales, school fetes, as well as a number of quirky markets and a fun run. Some are going walking on a bridge-to-bridge route (very popular in the warmer months) and then others are arranging to try out the latest of many new restaurants, followed by movies. One guy is going to the coast, another is heading to the mountain lakes, fishing and camping, whilst another is going on a tour of the local wineries.

After a very pleasant time, I arrive at work to find there is a morning tea on (a regular event we have whenever there’s a birthday), and start regretting that large breakfast I had earlier. There goes the diet again. Ah well …

I leave work early, which I often do on a Friday, as I am going to one of the local pubs where they will be playing jazz and then meeting friends for drinks later. As I drive to drop my car off at home,  I have to  cross the bridge and as always, marvel at the beauty of the landscape, the lake, national buildings, parks and gardens along with funky art. What a joy!

The jazz is amazing – a local new artist with such talent; it seems that Canberra has so many talented artists of every variety. We have a plethora of musicians, artists, singers, writers, performers – you name it, we’ve got it.  I often say we are the cultural capital; when I owned the bookshop in Manuka we had become aware that we have more book buyers per capita than any other city in Australia. And of course, then there is the scientific community, brimming with talent.

We end up going for dinner at a nearby Italian restaurant (which is always superb by the way) in one of our many upmarket eating districts. The night finishes with a short Uber ride home; a cheap way to go out and not have to worry about drink-driving. Anyway, it’s a short ride, as I live in an apartment near the city. Buying it was best decision I have ever made. In fact, I am thinking of buying another one for an investment.

As I end my day listening to music and drifting off to sleep, it occurs to me that I am so lucky to live here. We have everything in Canberra. Everything!

What’s Your opinion?


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17 Responses to
Are Canberrans spoilt?
1
spades 11:35 am
06 Dec 16
#

I’ve always said that Canberra is a great place to live, but not to visit.

It’s understandable why visitors think it’s boring…much of what you’ve mentioned are perks for people who live here.

2
devils_advocate 1:18 pm
06 Dec 16
#

Canberra is a great place to live as long as you have a sufficiently high and stable income.

3
Maryan 2:09 pm
06 Dec 16
#

You keep referring to “the city”, Suzanne. In Canberra, we do not have a “city centre”. We have multiple Town Centres. We have Civic, Belconnen, Woden etc. The city was specifically designed never to have a CBD. It’s one of the planning reasons that have produced a situation where life is somewhat more comfortable than in some other places. That planning also procluded strip development along the transport routes, which every other city has, to their serious detriment.
However, we have a government that insists on bringing as many people as possible from the larger & less functional cities (that historically grew like topsy & function that way), and knowing nothing else, they keep trying to make Canberra like the places they left.
It’s wonderful that you enjoy what this city has to offer.
It would, I think, be even more wonderful if current planners understood at least some of the myriad planning & historical issues that have created this situation, so that they do not participate in its total destruction.
Things like moving residential zones into the Civic area so that now people are complaining of the noise the live bands make, causing them to be curtailed (this is now called creating a “vibrant” city).
There are too many such things to name, but I’m sure you & many others get the picture – from where I stand, anyway.

4
bj_ACT 3:17 pm
06 Dec 16
#

devils_advocate said :

Canberra is a great place to live as long as you have a sufficiently high and stable income.

I think you have hit the nail on the head Devils Advocate. Suzanne has highlighted a whole lot of great things about Canberra, but the person making that coffee or cleaning the toilet near the lake probably came from Kambah, Richardson or Charnwood and isn’t benefitting as much as they should.

There has been a growing inequality across the Canberra Community since the 2001 CENSUS. ACT Government has increased rates, fees & charges to help pay for the great facilities, eatery streets and public places that Suzanne mentioned.

The kicker is the working poor and homeowners of the outer suburbs have been hit with the cost hikes ‘proportionally harder’ than the inner Canberra residents who have been enjoying the improved facilities and focused planning improvements.

Canberra used to provide services and facilities right across Canberra for all Canberrans, I think we have lost our way with too much focus on providing improved infrastructure and public facilities for the towns wealthy or upwardly mobile.

5
devils_advocate 4:33 pm
06 Dec 16
#

bj_ACT said :

Canberra used to provide services and facilities right across Canberra for all Canberrans, I think we have lost our way with too much focus on providing improved infrastructure and public facilities for the towns wealthy or upwardly mobile.

Yes – speaking as one of the denizens of a relatively affluent inner suburb (who has already acquired more than one of the investment properties referred to in the closing line) I note that it’s a compounding issue. Car parking fees, petrol prices, traffic congestion, hit those living further out because they have no realistic option for public transport. Ditto taxis and uber – not viable options to have a night out when the uber/taxi fare (each way) is likely to be $50 plus.
Some forms of social infrastructure – like small cafes and pubs – are starting to find their way out into the suburbs but many policies further entrench the existing distribution of services.

I guess to answer the headline questions – yes, some Canberrans are spoilt, but the privileges are reserved to those in the inner north and south.

6
Masquara 9:30 pm
06 Dec 16
#

Yeah but no beach.

7
Suzanne Kiraly 10:23 am
07 Dec 16
#

Thanks for all of your thoughtful comments. @spades – yes, everything in this article is in the context of those who live in this beautiful city. Yes @bj_ACT and @devils_advocate

I agree with both of you. I am well aware that there is a glaring gap between the “haves” and the “haves not” in this city and the level of homelessness, I believe, is just unacceptable.

Great fodder for another article I might write later….so thanks for your input.

8
imhotep 10:52 am
07 Dec 16
#

So true, and since we’re generalising;

– A great many Canberrans have secure jobs which are almost never under serious threat, a threat which frequently occupies the minds of many Australians.
– Most Canberrans are exceedingly well-paid for quite menial tasks. $60-70k for secure, entry-level office work? No worries.
-Their workload is generally pretty light compared to private sector work – if a genuine performance target is actually set and not met, there is a slight chance that promotion may be delayed. Most Australians are not so lucky.
– Amongst Canberra’s petty bureaucrats, people ‘in trade’ are generally regarded with suspicion. Any non-government development is to be obstructed by all bureaucratic means, despite the fact that ‘trade’ ultimately funds the city’s lavish lifestyle.

The founding fathers made a great mistake in establishing our Capital in an artificially-created city like Canberra. We are now governed by a generation that largely has no real experience of the country they administer.

9
dungfungus 12:34 pm
07 Dec 16
#

imhotep said :

So true, and since we’re generalising;

– A great many Canberrans have secure jobs which are almost never under serious threat, a threat which frequently occupies the minds of many Australians.
– Most Canberrans are exceedingly well-paid for quite menial tasks. $60-70k for secure, entry-level office work? No worries.
-Their workload is generally pretty light compared to private sector work – if a genuine performance target is actually set and not met, there is a slight chance that promotion may be delayed. Most Australians are not so lucky.
– Amongst Canberra’s petty bureaucrats, people ‘in trade’ are generally regarded with suspicion. Any non-government development is to be obstructed by all bureaucratic means, despite the fact that ‘trade’ ultimately funds the city’s lavish lifestyle.

The founding fathers made a great mistake in establishing our Capital in an artificially-created city like Canberra. We are now governed by a generation that largely has no real experience of the country they administer.

That’s a good case for moving some agencies into the real world then?

But wait, we are already being lectured on another thread that it isn’t a good idea.

10
crackerpants 1:47 pm
07 Dec 16
#

I love Canberra, and I do think we are spoilt, but the way I experience Canberra is completely different to that of the OP.

I read the OP as “No kids!! YESSSSS!”

I look forward to just being able to swing out the door for a run on our magnificent trails without having to magically align the needs of 4 other people first 😀 Our natural surrounds are gorgeous, and for this reason I count myself very, very lucky to live on one of Canberra’s outer edges, and still have a 10 min drive to work/school/daycare.

11
chewy14 1:48 pm
07 Dec 16
#

Maryan said :

You keep referring to “the city”, Suzanne. In Canberra, we do not have a “city centre”. We have multiple Town Centres. We have Civic, Belconnen, Woden etc. The city was specifically designed never to have a CBD. It’s one of the planning reasons that have produced a situation where life is somewhat more comfortable than in some other places. That planning also procluded strip development along the transport routes, which every other city has, to their serious detriment.
However, we have a government that insists on bringing as many people as possible from the larger & less functional cities (that historically grew like topsy & function that way), and knowing nothing else, they keep trying to make Canberra like the places they left.
It’s wonderful that you enjoy what this city has to offer.
It would, I think, be even more wonderful if current planners understood at least some of the myriad planning & historical issues that have created this situation, so that they do not participate in its total destruction.
Things like moving residential zones into the Civic area so that now people are complaining of the noise the live bands make, causing them to be curtailed (this is now called creating a “vibrant” city).
There are too many such things to name, but I’m sure you & many others get the picture – from where I stand, anyway.

The suburb/division is literally called “City”, there is no place called “Civic”.

12
bringontheevidence 3:47 pm
07 Dec 16
#

I think you all forget that everyone in Canberra lives in the Canberra bubble. Including our worst off.
At every single income percentile, Canberra’s residents are better off than those in any other major city in the country. This idea that somehow the benefits of living in Canberra are exclusive to those who have high paid public service jobs is simply not true. Those who don’t have public service jobs might not get the gravy train of the APS, but in general they are much, much better off than those in equivalent positions in Sydney, Melbourne or any other Australian city.

13
bj_ACT 4:23 pm
07 Dec 16
#

Suzanne Kiraly said :

Thanks for all of your thoughtful comments. @spades – yes, everything in this article is in the context of those who live in this beautiful city. Yes @bj_ACT and @devils_advocate

I agree with both of you. I am well aware that there is a glaring gap between the “haves” and the “haves not” in this city and the level of homelessness, I believe, is just unacceptable.

Great fodder for another article I might write later….so thanks for your input.

Thanks for writing the article, it is the strength of the RiotACT that allows discussion of these issues across Canberra. P.S. would love you to write a follow up article. Like Devils_Advocate I have done well for myself in Canberra, but over the last couple of years I have noticed declining education, employment and public services for the strugglers in the outer rim of suburbs.

14
Masquara 4:48 pm
07 Dec 16
#

chewy14 said :

Maryan said :

You keep referring to “the city”, Suzanne. In Canberra, we do not have a “city centre”. We have multiple Town Centres. We have Civic, Belconnen, Woden etc. The city was specifically designed never to have a CBD. It’s one of the planning reasons that have produced a situation where life is somewhat more comfortable than in some other places. That planning also procluded strip development along the transport routes, which every other city has, to their serious detriment.
However, we have a government that insists on bringing as many people as possible from the larger & less functional cities (that historically grew like topsy & function that way), and knowing nothing else, they keep trying to make Canberra like the places they left.
It’s wonderful that you enjoy what this city has to offer.
It would, I think, be even more wonderful if current planners understood at least some of the myriad planning & historical issues that have created this situation, so that they do not participate in its total destruction.
Things like moving residential zones into the Civic area so that now people are complaining of the noise the live bands make, causing them to be curtailed (this is now called creating a “vibrant” city).
There are too many such things to name, but I’m sure you & many others get the picture – from where I stand, anyway.

The suburb/division is literally called “City”, there is no place called “Civic”.

No, they tried to instigate “City Centre” but “Civic” had long been formalised. Civic it is. Anyone who says otherwise is not a Canberran!

15
dungfungus 9:45 am
08 Dec 16
#

Masquara said :

chewy14 said :

Maryan said :

You keep referring to “the city”, Suzanne. In Canberra, we do not have a “city centre”. We have multiple Town Centres. We have Civic, Belconnen, Woden etc. The city was specifically designed never to have a CBD. It’s one of the planning reasons that have produced a situation where life is somewhat more comfortable than in some other places. That planning also procluded strip development along the transport routes, which every other city has, to their serious detriment.
However, we have a government that insists on bringing as many people as possible from the larger & less functional cities (that historically grew like topsy & function that way), and knowing nothing else, they keep trying to make Canberra like the places they left.
It’s wonderful that you enjoy what this city has to offer.
It would, I think, be even more wonderful if current planners understood at least some of the myriad planning & historical issues that have created this situation, so that they do not participate in its total destruction.
Things like moving residential zones into the Civic area so that now people are complaining of the noise the live bands make, causing them to be curtailed (this is now called creating a “vibrant” city).
There are too many such things to name, but I’m sure you & many others get the picture – from where I stand, anyway.

The suburb/division is literally called “City”, there is no place called “Civic”.

No, they tried to instigate “City Centre” but “Civic” had long been formalised. Civic it is. Anyone who says otherwise is not a Canberran!

Civic Square is still listed in the postcodes as 2608. Don’t know if the PO is still there however.

Canberra is 2600 (or 2601 where the PO Box mail goes) and Canberra Airport 2609 where there is no PO (as far as I am aware).

Then there is Canberra BC at 2610. This is in a very old part of Canberra (joke).

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