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Developers win again in Watson

By sepi - 29 August 2008 33

The Chronicle brings news that the battle to retain Australian Heritage Village as a community asset has been lost.

The government has agreed to rezone this large block as a residential area, bringing a substantial windfall to the owner, developer Bob Winnell. Bob says the business was never viable, and says he is not in the business of subsidising unviable businesses. So why did he buy this block?

It is true that both Australian Heritage Park and the former Canberry Fair went bust in this location. But that was in the days when Watson was the end of Canberra, and the park was in a lonely spot across the one lane Federal Hwy. These days, with all the units nearly surrounding it, and Gungahlin just down the road, I think a nice big enclosed grassy area with a few kiddie rides, bbqs, antique shops, lollie shops, pony rides, ponds and a pub would go down a treat with the locals. (I still miss Clancy’s, the pub you could walk your dog to and tie them up outside.)

There are some formalities to go through, with the rezoning not quite final, but it seems that another community resource is disappearing. There is not a lot for families to do in the inner North, and I am sad that the Heritage Village isn’t getting one last chance to shine.

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Developers win again in Watson
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Granny 12:55 pm 01 Sep 08

I agree. Even if it was just an occasional well-promoted event it would be nice.

jakez 11:55 am 01 Sep 08

My mum and I used to go to the drive in all the time back in Geelong when I was a kid. So much fun, it’s a shame they’ve gone the way of the Dodo.

I was chatting with a workmate at Dendy the other night while we were waiting for ‘Not Quite Hollywood’ to finish and the subject of Drive ins came up. He had been to one in Finland so they still exist. I’m sure there is one in Australia somewhere, I just can’t remember.

I can’t see them being permanently viable again. Maybe it could be done as some sort of once a year ‘reminiscing’ kind of thing. If anyone can come up with a profitable business model then that’s bloody fantastic.

peterh 11:18 am 01 Sep 08

my mum took me to the drive-in to see dragonslayer, I think i was 10. loved that movie, even better on the massive screen and we got to play at the playground too. It was still going when I had my license, used to smuggle in a few friends in the boot of my leyland P76….


they were the good times.

now, if i get to the cinema, it is with a 3-year old with the attention span of oh, 6-minutes tops. saw the start of kungfu panda, that was it. Wonder how it ends? have to wait for the DVD….

AngryHenry 11:00 am 01 Sep 08

sepi said :

clancies is in staggering distance to lots of Watson units now though.

And it would be great for an arvo drink with a hamburger.

Agreed! So that makes two of us… Now we need a few hundred more people to make it economically viable. I loved Clancy’s, I used to bike it there and and erratically swerve home after a big session. It would be great to see the place re-open, do what you want with the rest of the site but I reckon Watson needs a pub.

sepi 9:37 am 01 Sep 08

clancies is in staggering distance to lots of Watson units now though.

And it would be great for an arvo drink with a hamburger.

Pandy 10:32 pm 31 Aug 08

Were they not plans to build a overhead super rest-stop at the Rose Cottage Inn for the snow trade?

Deano 10:02 pm 31 Aug 08

Felix the Cat said :

The pub Clancys was OK though, just not what Canberrans want I suppose. There does seem to be an oversupply though, of venues in Canberra that serve alcohol.

Drink driving laws really stymied it – just like the Rose Cottage Inn in Tuggeranong. Its not like it was staggering distance from anywhere much and getting a cab to drive to a pickup on the outskirts of town was nearly impossible.

ant 9:05 pm 31 Aug 08

We used to go to that drive in, do the mattress in the back thing, and we wore our pyjamas. It was extra-exciting as we got to eat TAKE AWAY FOOD! Huge treat. Once in a blue moon. The crackly old speakers you hung on the window were a bit crap though, so it was terribly exciting when they went to those things you hung on the car aerial, and used your car radio.

I hear they’re going to show classic australian movies at Floriade at night this year. waiting to hear what that’ll be about… BYO deck chair and chilled Sauv blanc?

Sands 8:03 pm 31 Aug 08

I have – a million times! I think I can get it. hehe….Gifted my ar*e!

Granny 7:21 pm 31 Aug 08

Have you never seen ‘Grease’?

: )

Sands 7:01 pm 31 Aug 08

I think the drive-in would have huge support in Canberra.

What’s the teenage thing?!

Granny 4:54 pm 31 Aug 08

miz said :

Bring back the drive-in!

I still can’t believe the drive-in has gone.

When we were kids mum and dad would stick a mattress in the back of the station wagon … (get your minds out of the gutter people, it was for us kids to sleep on!) … and take us to see Snow White or The Gnomemobile or Tora! Tora! Tora! and we’d play in the playground and buy hot chips at the kiosk and watch the movie in the car until we fell asleep.

[Skip teenage years]

Then when I was all grown up we could drive up and watch Gallipoli and howl at the top of my lungs in the privacy of our car without unduly embarrassing my sister.

I am sad that my kids will never experience the drive-in, apart from the teenage thing.


sepi 1:56 pm 31 Aug 08

It is going to be impossible to beat the reliance on roads and cars when we have to drive everywhere to do anything at all.

Dickson swimming pool is the last ‘family venue’ in the inner north that I can think of, and it is only open a third of the year.

And those who live on the Canberry Fair site will have to drive all the way back to Dickson to shop.

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