Cheap dates for cheapskates – Canberra edition

sullivanjay2 28 November 2011 10
black mountain tower

So I was reading the Sydney Morning Herald and there was an article about Cheap Dates and where to go in Sydney for a good cheap night out, allowing you to show your flair and eligibility without appearing to be poor or cheap.

Personally, I am poor and cheap, so I thought I was in a good position to write a Canberra version of the article.

According to the original article: “The trick to the perfect cheap date is simple: if your date is having a great time, they won’t think about how much you’ve spent.” I agree, using trickery and deception, especially about your financial position, is a great way to start a relationship.

So here are my suggestions to get you through some cheap first dates in the Capital.

1) Wineries

If you have petrol in your car, why not go for a drive out to the wineries? Cellar Doors = Free Drinks. Make her try all the wines, pretend you are a really picky purchaser and after a you’ve hit 10 or so, she might be drunk enough to think returning to your house to “watch a DVD” is a good idea.

2) Split a Laksa in Dickson

Always considered one of Canberra’s best kept secrets, sharing an Asian Noodle House Laksa is big, tasty and under $15.

If you’re clever, you should also be able to get away without having to go out afterwards and pay for drinks.

Tell her Suburban is too loud for you to “really talk”, Trinity hasn’t been the same since [INSERT BARMEN’S NAME HERE] left and if she has all her own teeth and doesn’t look like a member of AC/DC, she won’t want to drink at O’Neill’s.

3) A stroll through the Gardens at the National Gallery

Show off your arty side at the Art Gallery. There are a few cool things to do, like lying on the road under the hanging globe and pretending to care about the future is a good way to ‘appear’ sensitive. Also, if you walk through the rainbow generating water sprinklers at just the right time, you might get some wet t-shirt action. It’ll be like a classy version of Summernats and you’ll get more of an idea if she’s a piece of art or a piece of work.

4) Heavy petting at the top of Mt Ainslie.

Remember what SMH said: “The trick to the perfect cheap date is simple: if your date is having a great time, they won’t think about how much you’ve spent.” This is certainly true of heavy petting. It’s free…

Mt Ainslie has some amazing views, all the better when stared at casually through steamed windows as you let your fingers do the walking.

5) Cleanskin Wine and a BBQ Chicken by the Lake

The SMH article also notes: “You know what they say – dancing leads to sex.” But nightclub drinks are expensive and dancing is really hard. Nothing says “I appreciate the simple things” more than this meal and location.

On the walk, explain that the Cleanskin is something a friend gave you and said was leftover exports of a much better wine. It might taste like Plum Cordial, but she’ll still think you have insider knowledge of the wine industry.

Find a park bench, hand her a wing and notice how she licks the chicken juices off her fingers. If they say you can learn a lot about how someone is in bed by how they dance, this $7 chicken will tell you everything you need to know and more at a fraction of the price.

6) The Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture: Bible Garden

Take some apples and head to this little known majestic garden. Remember, the Garden was where Adam and Eve were naked and then something happened with a snake and everything got messy and they got kicked out. Appeal to her inner sinner by suggesting you both get naked and thrown out of paradise and try working in a snake related pun.

Just be aware that you will need to spend some time pretending to like flowers and enjoying her company before you do, no matter what any talking snakes nearby may tell you.

7) Cinema on the cheap

Yes, going to the movies is often insanely expensive – and if she hasn’t had a chance to get dinner beforehand, that large bag of Maltesers, Pop Corn, Choc Top and a Coke could really blow your budget.

Thankfully, Canberra has Arc Cinema at the National Film and Sound Archive and tickets are only $10. It gives you a chance to talk about ‘Hollywood’ and ‘Mainstream Cinema’ being passé. Just don’t go into your theories on UFOs, 9/11 Truth or the Illuminati – save the tin foil hat for later.

8) Heavy petting at Black Mountain

This is very similar to the Mt Ainslie situation, but there is something more phallic about the Tower.

Good to have as a back-up if there is an event at Mt Ainslie or if there is an awkward moment in the heavy petting at Mt Ainslie. Don’t panic, just relieve the tension with a drive across to the top of the other big hill before trying again.

9) Paddle Boating on the Lake

Not for the obese, the faint hearted or the faint-hearted and obese. $28 for an hour is a good way to get a little wet as you giggle and pretend that the wind that is almost knocking you out of the boat isn’t so bad. On a quiet day, not only is it a great way to take in some of the artificial beauty envisaged by Walter Burley Griffin, true to his plan, it will be a good indicator of your relationship potential.

If they expect you to do all the paddling while they tell you about their cats and how much you remind them of their Dad – ditch them in the middle of the Lake and paddle back to the Boat Hire for a well-deserved ice-cream.

10) Amateur Theatre

Judging others who are trying to express themselves through the arts is a good way to get a leg over.

If you can score some comps or cheap tickets to a theatre show – the worse the better – you could be in with a real shot. Worried she’ll question why you didn’t take her to an expensive show? Easy: just say that you know people in obscure production roles or that you studied the play at school and thought this production ‘might’ be good.

Picking on the actors will make the conversation fly when you are back at your place. Big tip: try and get a copy of the program so you can avoid appearing mean and insensitive by describing the cast by their obvious physical traits.

Once she is laughing at others, you’ll get a good sense of whether or not a second more expensive date is worth your while.

Take that Paris, take that Sydney – follow these tips and remember that romance is alive and well in the ACT.

Jay Sullivan is a full-time comedian who lives in Canberra. Green Faces Winner and RAW Comedy Grand Finalist, Jay performs regularly around Australia.

Jay Sullivan’s European Vacation debuts at the Tuggeranong Arts Centre December 2nd and 3rd

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10 Responses to Cheap dates for cheapskates – Canberra edition
Mysteryman Mysteryman 9:39 am 29 Nov 11

poetix said :

A full-time comedian? Don’t keep the day job, Jay.


As far as cheap dates go, I’ve actually had a lot of fun with a couple of bottles of cider and a quiet evening by the lake (either LBG or LG). The lights are pretty, the weather in summer is nice, and it’s a relaxing place for a chat/getting to know each other. You can spend a good few hours there and it doesn’t cost a thing.

Jordo Jordo 9:37 am 29 Nov 11

a trip to Jordo’s Chop Shop Wanniassa can be quite romantic, or snuggling on the couch ordering online together @

Mumbucks Mumbucks 8:24 am 29 Nov 11

arescarti42 said :

Protip: Sometimes if you go to the supermarket late at night you can get that $7 rotisserie chicken for about $4, so that cheap date becomes even cheaper.

I think if you hover around the meat section on a Sunday night. You’ll bag a bargain!

toriness toriness 8:24 am 29 Nov 11

LOL – excellent

how about a lunchtime comedy session – QT at APH. free!

arescarti42 arescarti42 1:01 am 29 Nov 11

Protip: Sometimes if you go to the supermarket late at night you can get that $7 rotisserie chicken for about $4, so that cheap date becomes even cheaper.

Classified Classified 1:23 pm 28 Nov 11

Some good ideas here.

neanderthalsis neanderthalsis 1:21 pm 28 Nov 11

#5 works… Balmy summer evening at the Carillon, cheap bottle of plonk, a cooked chook and bread rolls and a picnic blanket.

Majoof Majoof 1:15 pm 28 Nov 11

poetix said :

A full-time comedian? Don’t keep the day job, Jay.

you’ve obviously never seen Jay live, he’s very funny and a top guy as well.

poetix poetix 12:58 pm 28 Nov 11

A full-time comedian? Don’t keep the day job, Jay.

Mumbucks Mumbucks 12:58 pm 28 Nov 11

Go for a walk hand in hand.

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