Skip to content Skip to main navigation

Opinion

Canberra insurance broker
of choice since 1985

First impressions of capital a shocker for tourism

By Roger Allnutt - 15 February 2017 17

Northbourne Avenue

I have been writing about Canberra as a tourist destination for many years for local and international outlets but the current ‘look’ of Canberra tempts me to suggest potential visitors look elsewhere until the ‘current’ developments are complete.

If you arrive by plane it is rather confronting to be assailed by a large wall in the entrance area depicting a jet fighter plane. Admittedly Canberra is the headquarters of the Australian Defence Forces but surely something more relevant to the general population and especially tourist would be more appropriate.

However it is the approaches by road and perhaps rail that are the most depressing.

Northbourne Avenue

Northbourne Avenue

Northbourne Avenue was once an elegant roadway with a lovely median strip featuring mature trees and (usually) green grass leading from the northern outskirts to the city centre.  Due to the light rail construction, this is now an unholy mess, trees cut down, barriers and construction vehicles everywhere.  Given the proposed time frame for construction I suspect that the CBD will be deserted as companies and businesses leave the city area due to lack (and expense) of parking. The general run down look with a number of closed shops and unsightly boardings on streetscapes does not help. Even the Jolimont Centre for buses needs a major facelift.

I doubt many visitors arrive by train. Unfortunately the barren landscape of the railway station does not inspire confidence that the rest of Canberra will be any more attractive.

Regatta Point

Canberra Tourist Centre

Many visitors look for an information centre as they approach a new city but the powers that be bizarrely moved the excellent (both in quality and location) operation from Northbourne Avenue to Regatta Point. I’m not sure how well that is working but for visitors with caravans the access is difficult.

Westside Village

Westside Village

I am concerned about what is happening around Lake Burley Griffin. The pop up village is a complete eyesore and fortunately is to be removed. However other plans under the guise of ‘City to the Lake’ don’t augur well. Concrete boardwalks and the filling of West Basin will not enhance the attractiveness of the lake to visitors with crowded high rise buildings and never-ending construction.

The planned barrier around Parliament House will undoubtedly be a blot on the landscape of this superb building.

I suspect most visitors avert their gaze from the rather unkempt and tawdry appearance of many parts of Canberra. Despite cutbacks to the funding (and hence staffing) of many of our popular institutions, visitors continue to spend time here. Key places like the War Memorial, National Museum and National Gallery make the best use of available resources to mount excellent exhibitions in addition to their usual displays.

But the fact remains that in many facets of life first impressions are vitally important. It applies in many situations, such as meeting people and going for an interview.

It is also very important for the tourist when arriving at a new place.

Are your expectations met? Do you feel comfortable with your surroundings?

Unfortunately to me the current ‘presentation’ for arrivals in Canberra is less that appealing.

Is the first impression tourists gain of Canberra good enough?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

What’s Your opinion?


Post a comment
Please login to post your comments, or connect with
17 Responses to
First impressions of capital a shocker for tourism
Maya123 11:26 am 17 Feb 17

ChrisinTurner said :

Every time I go to Melbourne or Sydney I am impressed by the way they look after their streets, nature strips, road markings, street lights, street trees, sweeping their streets and footpaths, trimming around poles etc. Canberra always looks neglected.

I was visiting Sydney recently and saw LOTS of dumped trolleys. More than I have ever seen in one place in Canberra. Also lots of rubbish. So much so that I commented to someone (words to this effect), that people in Canberra who complain about Canberra looking like a dump, should get out more. Depends which part of Sydney one is referring to. Very spread out city.

ChrisinTurner 10:21 am 17 Feb 17

Every time I go to Melbourne or Sydney I am impressed by the way they look after their streets, nature strips, road markings, street lights, street trees, sweeping their streets and footpaths, trimming around poles etc. Canberra always looks neglected.

wildturkeycanoe 9:56 pm 16 Feb 17

HSewell said :

It is a strange tourist indeed who would be *discouraged* from visiting a Lake by the existence of easy ways to access the Lake.

It’d be a strange tourist who would want to go and see a stinky lake filled with blue-green algae and dead carp.

HSewell 5:27 pm 16 Feb 17

What a grim catalogue of complaints: compared to any other Australian city, Canberra is a joy to arrive in. So what does the article actually object to?

(1) The article objects to an advertisement at the airport featuring a fighter jet. Advertisements are quite common in airports in 2017, are they not? Even so, what about the vivid public art on display throughout the airport?
(2) The article objects to the (temporary) construction work underway on Northbourne Avenue. Is the author seriously suggesting that no construction work be done anywhere that a tourist might see it? Perhaps only by night?
(3) The article objects to the decision to move the visitors centre away from the construction work that the article previously objected to. Should it have stayed amidst the construction work?
(4) The article rehearses the tired parochial-NIMBY objections to the container village (which is temporary).
(5) The article objects to concrete walkways around the Lake. It is a strange tourist indeed who would be *discouraged* from visiting a Lake by the existence of easy ways to access the Lake.

What a NIMBY good-old-days article.

LadyxBec 5:06 pm 16 Feb 17

GCS14 said :

Have you never entered another city before? Sydney is downright boring. Melbourne has an interesting entrance (via the hume) but that doesn’t stop the surrounding area being completely swamped by cookie cutter McMansions with no vegetation. And then the McMansions give way to industrial land. Not exactly inspiring. And honestly, complaining about northbourne, which will be a short term issue while the LR is being built.

Agreed! Both throughout Australia and internationally, city enterances are nothing to write home about.

Doesn’t anyone else remember the 5 year saga of Sydney widening the Hume before it turns into the M5/M7? That was awful, but it passed and so will the light rail construction.

GCS14 10:11 am 16 Feb 17

Have you never entered another city before? Sydney is downright boring. Melbourne has an interesting entrance (via the hume) but that doesn’t stop the surrounding area being completely swamped by cookie cutter McMansions with no vegetation. And then the McMansions give way to industrial land. Not exactly inspiring. And honestly, complaining about northbourne, which will be a short term issue while the LR is being built.

wildturkeycanoe 10:17 pm 15 Feb 17

Once the CSIRO site is sold off to developers, the Barton Highway entrance to Canberra will be an eyesore for years to come. If future designs are anything along the lines of the slum-like spattering called Crace, people might think they’ve entered Mogadishu, not the capital of Australia.
Needless to say, the single lane crawl from Murrumbateman will have already given tourists a less than pleasant introduction to Canberra. BTW, I still haven’t got a pamphlet in the mail on how to navigate the new roundabout, which can easily lead interstate drivers to wonder what kind of clown is in charge here.
The last time I drove back on the Federal Highway, I didn’t even notice the welcome to Canberra sign. Looking at Streetview I can see a plain white sign establishing the transition from N.S.W to A.C.T, then a plain white recognition of the native land owners and something about Nara, Beijing and Dili [How many sisters does a city need?]. The final few kilometers into Canberra you are repeatedly warned about the voluntary contribution scheme [speed camera] before finally again being shown in plain white signage that you are in North Canberra. Those repeated warnings about speed cameras on the entryways to our city aren’t exactly inviting, more like a warning that “Big brother” is watching and you’d better behave yourself. I didn’t even notice the new rusty steel welcome signs recently erected, so they can’t be that attention grabbing.

JC 9:25 pm 15 Feb 17

Maryann Mussared said :

miz said :

Great points – you should also check out that other major entrance road into the ACT, the Monaro Highway – now even more industrial, plus the tip. Yay.

Am I the only person who has noticed the ACT Government is ‘retro-fitting’ direct access into IKEA off the Majura Parkway? Pathetic oversight.

And what about the woeful ommission of an on-ramp to the northbound Majura Parkway from east-bound Parkes Way.

Just who are we employing in this government to come up with workable strategies for the future that avoid the need for ‘duplication’ in just about every project planned? The only argument pro duplication is duplicating the Barton Highway…. Can someone please just put their mind to sorting out this particular mess?

Umm two points. There is history around the IKEA exit can I suggest you look it up. Revolves around the airport and funding of the exit.

As for an exit from Parkes way into Majura Parkway (north bound), well the two roads don’t intersect! But will give the benifit of the doubt and suggest you really meant Morshead Drive/Pialligo Drive (the road changes name at the Majura parkway intersection) in which case the reason there is no onramp is because the ACT government doesn’t own the land to provide on ramps it is federal and is part of RMC. RMC allowed Madura parkway to be built taking up extra space but the land the original road went over was handed back at end of construction as compensation for the lost land. Along with doing up one of the ovals if I recall.

Besides that the traffic flows from the city going that way would would be minor in volume and well handled by the existing road infrastructure.

The path from the city to the majura parkway is via Fairbarn Ave and anything coming from further along Parkes Way probably wouldn’t be going that way anyway or could handle the minor inconvenience of going one intersection further down and back around.

So would suggest those that are running the show might have a better idea of what is going on than the air chair critics give credit for

No_Nose 6:06 pm 15 Feb 17

Maryann Mussared said :

miz said :

Great points – you should also check out that other major entrance road into the ACT, the Monaro Highway – now even more industrial, plus the tip. Yay.

Am I the only person who has noticed the ACT Government is ‘retro-fitting’ direct access into IKEA off the Majura Parkway? Pathetic oversight.

And what about the woeful ommission of an on-ramp to the northbound Majura Parkway from east-bound Parkes Way.

Just who are we employing in this government to come up with workable strategies for the future that avoid the need for ‘duplication’ in just about every project planned? The only argument pro duplication is duplicating the Barton Highway…. Can someone please just put their mind to sorting out this particular mess?

Wouldn’t that be the job of the Chief Planner?

http://the-riotact.com/act-chief-planner-to-be-or-not-to-be/194504

Maya123 4:45 pm 15 Feb 17

dungfungus said :

miz said :

Great points – you should also check out that other major entrance road into the ACT, the Monaro Highway – now even more industrial, plus the tip. Yay.

…and the solar panels.

They look fine. In fact if I take a photograph in that arez I like to include them, because they add to the scenery.

Maryann Mussared 3:42 pm 15 Feb 17

miz said :

Great points – you should also check out that other major entrance road into the ACT, the Monaro Highway – now even more industrial, plus the tip. Yay.

Am I the only person who has noticed the ACT Government is ‘retro-fitting’ direct access into IKEA off the Majura Parkway? Pathetic oversight. And what about the woeful ommission of an on-ramp to the northbound Majura Parkway from east-bound Parkes Way. Just who are we employing in this government to come up with workable strategies for the future that avoid the need for ‘duplication’ in just about every project planned? The only argument pro duplication is duplicating the Barton Highway…. Can someone please just put their mind to sorting out this particular mess?

dungfungus 2:12 pm 15 Feb 17

miz said :

Great points – you should also check out that other major entrance road into the ACT, the Monaro Highway – now even more industrial, plus the tip. Yay.

…and the solar panels.

miz 12:52 pm 15 Feb 17

Great points – you should also check out that other major entrance road into the ACT, the Monaro Highway – now even more industrial, plus the tip. Yay.

Maryann Mussared 12:19 pm 15 Feb 17

I love the blue dunny on the corner of Barry Drive and Northbourne Avenue!

JimCharles 7:23 am 15 Feb 17

One of the things that is immediately distinctive about Canberra is the treatment of nature strips. I don’t mean the private ones outside people houses, but the general non-owned municipal ones.
There’s something to be said for a nature strip that doesn’t include costly mowing, maintenance or watering, but it seems the done thing here for nobody to take any responsibility or even acknowledge their existence.

If you drive up The Valley in Gungahlin on the edge of the new town, you have a new leisure centre, new oval, a new Govt. building, new apartments, a new cinema being built, and a few churches i think.
The edges of the road are a complete disgrace. Builders cut across them during construction, and never forced to “make good” on completion.
You are left lines of weeds and rutted dirt from top to bottom, tying all the newbuilds together. It reminds me of developments in India where you are just expected to avert your eyes.
Anthony Rolfe Avenue on the other side of town is exactly the same
These aren’t nature strips, they’re glaringly obvious pieces of derelict land that seem to be outside the care or awareness of anybody and it leaves a really bad impression.

Related Articles

CBR Tweets

Sign up to our newsletter

Top
Copyright © 2017 Riot ACT Holdings Pty Ltd. All rights reserved.
www.the-riotact.com | www.b2bmagazine.com.au | www.thisiscanberra.com

Search across the site