Summer in Canberra brings back golden memories for contributor Suzanne Kiraly. As our My Summer series continues, she shares her recommendations for enjoying the warmer months at a slower pace…
Summer in Canberra always brings back golden memories. It was the carefree adolescence I spent growing up in the capital that is most evocative.
It was a time when we just had so much fun with seemingly so many leisure-filled hours. Although most of us had part-time jobs (I worked as a photocopier officer’s assistant in the public service, at a time when the public service actually offered holiday jobs, would you believe?), we still had many leisure hours to while away under the sun.
This summer I am most looking forward to … getting in some of that sorely missed relaxation, slow thinking, slow reading and lots of writing of course. Add to that some slow eating, drinking and playing tourist to my visitors from interstate, and it’s everything that a great summer break should be. Just the thought of winding down and not having to rush anywhere sends tingles down my spine. And I know it won’t last, this leisurely pace, so I mean to make hay while the sun shines. (Pardon the pun.)
The best swimming pool in Canberra is … undoubtedly for me, the Olympic pool of course. Why? Because I have fond memories of hanging out there as a teenager way back when the Olympic bowling alley was over the road. Does anyone else remember that?
The pool was our summer refuge where we’d while away many hours, swimming, chatting and giggling under the stars. The pool was open until late at night so we were there for many, many hours until our parents picked us up. Like prunes really. And then during the hottest days we’d play, “the girls watch the boys and the boys watch the girls…….” like the Andy Williams song lyrics to “Music to watch the girls go by”. Anyone else old enough to remember that number? And so we’d prance up and down the escalators at the Mall in Civic too (which was tiny then), while the boys hung over the railings looking too cool – that’s how the adolescent watching game went then (and probably still does today, if nature has a say in it).
My favourite freshwater swimming hole … at that time used to be split between the Cotter and Pine Island, but I haven’t been to either for years and the Cotter is still under reconstruction as far as I know. Might be time to seek out Ginninderra Falls this summer, as I’ve heard so much about that place but have never been there swimming.
The best beach on the NSW south coast is … without a doubt, Pretty Beach – not so crowded and just a peaceful little place to find tranquillity. On the Central Coast, I love Umina beach, where I once lived a lifetime ago. Again, not as crowded as some other beaches, and in Sydney, you can’t go past Bronte Beach – deeply creviced in beautiful cliffs with a very interesting cemetery precariously placed on the cliff top. There are lovely grassed areas right in front of the water, and eating fish and chips there is mandatory. Going further north, the Coffs Harbour area has a number of lovely sandy, white beaches too – and also often not crowded.
Aside from swimming and lounging around on the sand (actually if truth be known I hate the sand – it gets into everything and everywhere, doesn’t it just?), there’s … lying by the pool. Now that’s another thing. Love the pool. Yes, walking on the beach and swimming in the pool is a perfect combination for me in the summer. You can read a book by the pool and dip in and out as your fancy takes you.
My favourite summer drink … when I was on Christmas Island used to be gin and tonic. In fact, CI was the G & T frontline of Australia then as I recall – and I brought that habit back here for summer refreshment. But when it gets too hot, then Coronas with lemon are the order of the day.
My ice-cream of choice is … Summer means ice-cream of course. As for my personal ice-cream of choice, it’s…well not actually ice-cream. I love that frozen yoghurt place in Belconnen Mall, where you can choose from so many different flavours. You can be holier than thou there, and pretend that it’s not as fattening as the real thing. But let’s face it, we all know that’s a furphy! Nevertheless, it tastes just as good anyway.
So, after all of this ice cream eating (even though it’s yoghurt), one needs to appease the health advisors, by eating all sorts of creative salads to compensate. I like to experiment and try new recipes for tasty salads. But then there is always the staple summer diet of Caesar salad. It’s the safe bet that I tend to consume every summer in copious quantities.
The al fresco dining spots I’ll be hanging out in this summer are … Lately, I’ve discovered some amazing al fresco dining spots in Canberra too. There are many of these in Braddon; in Lonsdale street, the Kingston Foreshore; and in Manuka. Caphs is a favourite of mine there. Of course, the Mint garden bar near Sage in the Gorman House Arts precinct is just beautiful for consuming your pre-dining drinks under the stars.
The sport I am most looking forward to watching this summer is … tennis – I love watching the tennis in Melbourne in January each year, and we used to go there when my youngest son was an official ball boy. The atmosphere in Melbourne is electric, but if you can’t go, the tv is the next best thing.
When it’s too hot to be outside, I’ll be … in the air conditioning, writing. Or I might catch a movie or a live show, as long as there is air conditioning involved.
The must-attend events this summer include … visits to all of our national icons, (galleries, library and museums), a cruise on the lake, walking the bridge-to-bridge, and the National Multicultural Festival to end the summer season. (Try the Hungarian langos and Dreher beer – it’s to die for.)
Children can experience summer through … events organised by Questacon; Dendy or Palace Electric, for films; library events organised by Libraries ACT; and of course, picnics and barbecues beside the many beautiful lakes we have in the capital.
On my holiday reading pile this year are … I have so many books that I know I won’t get through in my reading stack this summer, but I will give it a damn good try, at the very least. I am going to finish the Coetzee and Helen Garner novels I have already started (but not yet managed to finish). Paul Daley’s Canberra is just an excellent local addition to the list. I’m interested in the new Tim Ferris novel, and a James Patterson for good measure, as well as some volumes of short stories; I am always in search of great tales for Tales After Dark, a literary event I hold, which involves actors storytelling for grownups.
Yes, my summer certainly has a feel about it – a joyful time of the year for me. What about yours?
If you’d like to share your responses to our My Summer cues, please log on and upload your own version for publication in coming weeks.