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Australia’s pretend capital city

By nicnacvb - 19 February 2010 34

I found this post in The Backpacker blog on the Sydney Morning Herald site.  The article is about capital cities that suck.  Canberra got an honourable mention.

I think this person has summed up Canberra pretty damn well!  And as a long time reader of the RiotACT I noticed that this particular post was reminiscent of many posts I have read on this forum

Is it you Johnboy?  Different spelling of the name though I’m sure it must be someone who grew up or at least lives in Canberra.

I love the bit about the “pretend international airport”.  So true!  Just our self important Government trying to bignote itself.

“I have to agree. Canberra is Australia’s capital in name only.
Most foreigners believe that Sydney is Australia’s capital, and who can blame them.
Canberra is a pretend capital, with it’s pretend local government that is run by a pretend chief minister (otherwise known as a discount mayor), a pretend police ‘force’ that is too busy buying half-price Macdonald’s to do anything about the spiraling crime rate (the only reason anyone reports a crime to them is so they can get a job number for their insurance claim), a pretend jail that is an epic fail, a pretend judiciary that is run by bleeding heart do-gooders that rarely sends anyone to the pretend jail, a pretend international airport that has difficulty handling anything bigger than a Boeing 767. The pretend international airport has a pretend business park adjacent to it which has non-existent or very poor mobile phone reception… the list just goes on.
When travelling, only people with broad shoulders and thick skin admit to being from Canberra.”

  • Posted by: Jonathan on February 17, 2010 11:08 AM

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34 Responses to
Australia’s pretend capital city
niftydog 3:31 pm 19 Feb 10

There used to be cows grazing 2km east of Parliament House at Dairy Flat!

trevar 1:58 pm 19 Feb 10

+1 niftydog!

Canberra is only boring to those boring souls who only like big cities (oddly enough they seem to insist that those big cities all be the same as each other). I think the original story was written by one of these people.

I like the first comment on that site though; “is Canberra the only first world capital with sheep grazing 1km from Parliament?”. It’s an interesting question. I can think of plenty of capitals that are built in the middle of sheep grazing areas, but I can’t even figure out where that particular sheep paddock within 1km of Parliament is…

troll-sniffer 1:40 pm 19 Feb 10

I agree if you follow the busloads of greying nomads and Asians on one day whirlwinds from Sinney, I’m sure Canberra is a boring enough place. Who cares? Those who seek out a little more will find quite a lot in Canberra that other capital cities can only dream of. Sure, we can only dream of the nightlife and culinary concentrations of ‘real’ cities, but for the percentage of the population who seek a little more than that formula, Canberra provides a good alternative.

Perhaps a new slogan for those promoting Canberra as a tourist destination could be along the lines of:

Canberra, spend some time finding out what’s really unique.

rosebud 1:38 pm 19 Feb 10

Canberra is the intellectual equivalent of a mining town. Graduates and others come here primarily for the work – to make money, get experience and quals and the head off somewhere more interesting ASAP. If they hang on and stay, it is generally because of Canberra’s golden handcuffs – well paid work, mobility in work without losing entitlements, short commuting distances and decent housing.

jmac 1:03 pm 19 Feb 10

I must admit, i enjoyed reading all the comments about Canberra! It just goes to prove that we all have different tastes.

I am born and bred in Canberra apart from 1 year living in the UK and i must admit, i was a typical Canberra basher in my late teens and early twenties. However if i hated it that much i should have left, but i didn’t.

I am now on the other end of the scale. I love Canberra from a living point of view, it’s an easy town to live in which is great with a family.

But this article does talk about Canberra as a tourist town so here my thoughts. All my family and friends that have visited Canberra have had mixed reviews but generally good. I have found that when my friends visited in their early twenties, they did find it a bit dull but any of my family or friends with kids absolutely loved it. They found there was lots to do that was kid friendly and either free or at such a low cost that everyone had such a good time.

At the end of the day, if people don’t like Canberra, that’s fine by me. I prefer to keep our population down and keep it the way it is then for people to discover that it’s not actually that bad of a place and come here in droves.

Also, tourists need to visit Adelaide before they start knocking Canberra. I was not overly impressed by Adelaide when i was there last time. (Sorry to Adelaide fans, i promise i will visit again before i whole heartedly say it’s the most boring place to visit in Australia!)

KB1971 12:55 pm 19 Feb 10

To be fair, Canberra doesnt have a massive amount if “instant gratification” that a lot of younger tourists want. Its coming along though with our mountain biking, rock climbing areas, upgrading of certain areas like the Canberra Centre, restuarants are getting better.

It is different to Sydney & Melbourne & thats why I love it. One person stated that to really appreciate Canberra you have to live here & thats the absolute truth.

I work with three blokes who moved here for work. They all hate the place, they even took a year off without pay & moved back to their respective hometowns/countires. They came back & after 5 years they still crap on about how bad the place is.

It cant be that bad…….

Clown Killer 12:48 pm 19 Feb 10

Yawn. Another device to flush out wankers from Sydney with a chip on their shoulder.

I am fortunate enough to host international travellers in Canberra on a regular basis and I have never heard anyone suggest that Canberra is anything but a charming place to visit. I guess it’s all in the eye of the beholder.

pierce 12:26 pm 19 Feb 10

I thought exotic was interesting but ugly and cute was pretty but short

niftydog 12:01 pm 19 Feb 10

hack·neyed /?hæknid/
made commonplace or trite; stale; banal; Fairfax journalism.

So it’s boring for travellers because there’s not 5 million people living here? Ok… Apparently I’ve been travelling to all the wrong places then.

If Sydney is supposed to “represent everything that’s good about a country” then I’m amazed anybody comes here at all.

spinact 11:58 am 19 Feb 10

A few positive comments on Canberra thrown in there. Apparently Civic is cute. Isn’t the definition of cute ‘interesting but ugly’?

eh_steve 11:30 am 19 Feb 10

Jonathon Reynolds?

Spectra 11:14 am 19 Feb 10

the spiraling crime rate

Ah yes, the old “spiraling” (sic) crime rate. Except that it isn’t. Everyone always loves to assume that the crime rate wherever they are is spiralling out of control – after all, the news keeps reporting crimes! Last I checked, the overall crime rate in this city was pretty static – a few percent up or down each year, but however it’s changing, “spiralling” it certainly isn’t.

H1NG0 10:58 am 19 Feb 10

“When travelling, only people with broad shoulders and thick skin admit to being from Canberra”


There is truth the rest but I find the biggest thing holding Canberra back is not the Canberrans, its the attitude of the outsiders who won’t even give it a chance before tossing it to the side.

sloppery 10:50 am 19 Feb 10

Cool. I don’t want Canberra being swamped by hippy backpackers anyway.

Pommy bastard 10:47 am 19 Feb 10

I posted this article on a discussion forum I use. The Yanks there were not impressed with Washington DC being mentioned. Apparently, the murder capitol of the US is a very interesting place.

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