One of my recent articles attracted a few comments on the variety of nightlife venues in Canberra. This might be a controversial discussion to start, but everyone has a different experience of Canberra depending on their work, family, friends, lifestyle and interests. While the quantity of Canberra nightlife venues is adequate for many, it might not be everyone’s cup of tea – particularly those originating from major cities.
Given its population of less than half a million, Canberra obviously isn’t going to have masses of bars and nightclubs, but does that necessarily mean that young people (particularly young single professionals with no ties in Canberra) will increasingly ‘do their time’ in the capital and then move to a bigger city after a year or two looking to live somewhere more exciting? Or will they just flee to Sydney come 5pm on Friday and spend the weekend away from Canberra?
My flatmate is from Wollongong and he spends every second weekend away from Canberra. He definitely doesn’t hang around on public holidays. I know quite a few people from Sydney or surrounds who rarely spend their weekends in Canberra, preferring to do the Friday afternoon drive up the Hume Highway.
But as a single person, I’d have to say there probably isn’t enough variety and not enough happening to keep me entertained and interested in the long term. Events such as the Multicultural Festival, Floriade and Enlighten are worth a visit, but are these types of events diverse enough to attract Canberra residents year after year?
As for a night out, it’s common to end up in the same places weekend after weekend. Yes, there are new venues such as Molly, Lucky’s and Hopscotch that are increasingly filling the nightlife scene and seem to be very popular, but I’m not sure that there are enough to satisfy Canberra’s young people. As another person commented, the majority of newer places popping up are bars not nightclubs. Is there a need for more nightclubs in Canberra?
I try and mix my nights up between Braddon, Civic and Kingston for a few drinks, but I tend to revisit the same places a lot throughout the year. Living in the inner north, Braddon and Civic are convenient as I don’t need to take a taxi home, but every now and then I give Kingston a go too.
One reader commented that a lack of nightlife was becoming an increasingly valid reason for people to leave Canberra. I’d have to agree. After two years in Canberra, I’m pretty vocal in admitting that you have to really look for things to do in this city. It’s not like Sydney and Melbourne where there’s something happening every day of the week to cater for all tastes, budgets and schedules.
Many of my friends, a mix of Canberrans and interstate blow-ins, tell me Canberra also lacks the buoyant vibe of other Australian cities. Many times I’ve wandered through the central parts of Canberra and there’s been hardly anyone around.
On the other hand, a few locals have told me that they don’t have a compelling reason to leave Canberra even if they acknowledge that there isn’t a lot to do. Is the issue here really that people from other cities like myself expecting something like their cities and find themselves disappointed in what Canberra has to offer?