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Northside vs southside – is one really better than the other?

By Alexandra Craig 5 May 2015 72

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Northside versus southside. It’s pretty much the greatest rivalry since Springfield versus Shelbyville.

I’ve never really understood it. I currently live in Canberra’s north, and while I probably prefer the southside, I’m not about to argue that one is better than the other. I notice this more in people who grew up in Canberra, they were born and bred on one side and have no idea where to find anything on the other side and don’t have an interest in venturing there.

I’ve also noticed an unwillingness to travel from one side of Canberra to the other. I often see people asking for recommendations for doctor, restaurants, tutors and social activities, but they’re only interested in northside recommendations, or don’t want to travel further than Canberra’s south.

Sure, I understand that people who live in Gordon might not want to travel to Gungahlin during peak hour, but it’s puzzling when someone asks for a specialist doctor that they desperately need to see but won’t venture to the other side of Lake Burley Griffin for it. Canberra’s not that big. It doesn’t take that long to get from place to place.

Is it laziness or is it because people don’t know their way around the other side of town? Or is it actually a case of rivalry between the two areas? Everyone thinks their side is the best, but I wonder if we put it to the test with some non-Canberrans whether there would be much of a difference.

As far as tourist attractions go, most of the notable ones are southside, but only just. On the south there is Parliament House, Old Parliament House, Questacon, the galleries and the National Library. A bit further down you’ve got the National Zoo and Aquarium, the Royal Australian Mint, and Tidbinbilla. Northside has the War Memorial Black Mountain Tower, the AIS, the Botanic Gardens, the Dinosaur Museum and Cockington Green a bit further north.

As far as cafes, shopping malls, parks and recreation, and general standard of living go, it’s a pretty even playing field in my opinion. I’ve lived on both sides and I don’t see a huge difference. As I said, I prefer the south but that’s simply because I really like a few suburbs there. I don’t despise living in the north.

Interestingly, I have only really noticed this debate between southsiders that live in the Tuggeranong region and northsiders that live in Belconnen and Gungahlin. I never see the rivalry between inner north and inner south, or hear that Kingston Foreshore is way better than Braddon. People seem to like both. Same goes for the Dickson and Woden areas.

Is anyone else as confused as I am about this strange rivalry? Is it a born and bred Canberran thing only or are some newish Canberrans in on the North versus South debate too?


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72 Responses to
Northside vs southside – is one really better than the other?
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Holden Caulfield 4:19 pm 07 May 15

RHW said :

…Lived in London for ten years…

Norf or souf o da river?

switch 5:15 pm 07 May 15

old canberran said :

Spherical said :

In the 1950s when my parents bought a house on the north side of the lake my grandparents were perplexed why they would do such a thing. Manuka and Kingston were the main shops, unless you went to Queanbeyan for an important shopping trip.
* Remember: the Commonwealth Bridge WAS washed away in the flood.

As far as I can remember, Commonwealth Bridge was never washed away. It was closed once when the water rose to within a foot of the roadway for a day or so. I would be interested to learn otherwise.

The present bridge was never in danger. The old railway bridge to Civic was washed away in 1922. That’s probably the rumour’s source. See http://www.engineer.org.au/chapter02.html

Crazed_Loner 5:32 pm 07 May 15

Alexandra Craig said :

JC said :

Alexandra Craig said :

JC said :

Alexandra Craig said :

Okay. So I may have confirmed with the office of one of the ACT Federal MPs. The zoo is in Fraser. Northside. Even though the address is Weston Creek. I am confused and I think this is stupid but debate has now been adjourned.

What exactly is there to be confused about? Electoral boundaries sometimes don’t follow suburbs boundaries and Canberra the Lake or the Molongolo River has not always been the defining feature. Indeed in 1996 there were 3 electorates with the division of Canberra straddling both sides of the lake. Where electoral divisions boundries are set all depends upon how they can best split the population to give more or less proportional representation in each electorate within the state or territory.

Besides when it comes to North/South divide its not the lake that divides Canberra in two rather the Murrumbidgee River, it just so happens that the lake is the most obvious feature of the river. Besides when it comes to the lake what dividing line do we use considering it is a crescent shaped lake?

Yes, but when you search Weston Creek on Find my Electorate on the AEC website it says it’s in Canberra. If a suburb is in two electorates it will list both. This is why it’s confusing. I can’t work out who is at fault here, the AEC or whoever decided the Zoo was in Weston Creek.

There is no suburb called Weston Creek. It is a district and the zoo address is consistent with rural addressing where there is no suburb and the district name is used instead. So it is just a quirk of the address of the zoo.

It’s interesting though, if you look at google maps and click Weston Creek, the highlighted area doesn’t even get close to the zoo. See here: http://tinypic.com/r/iqkaqg/8

I thought it might have something to do with the roads, like if a road starts in one district than the rest of the area alongside that road will be that same district if there are no other suburbs around. If you follow the Tuggeranong Parkway on google maps, you can get up past the Arboretum and it still identifies as Weston Creek. It’s Weston Creek until you hit Black Mountain. I’m also interested to know if there are any other areas of the ACT where a suburb or a district continues way out of where the suburb or district physically is.

FFS, it’s north of the lake/Molonglo River. It’s a simple matter of geography. All other considerations are irrelevant.

Crazed_Loner 6:01 pm 07 May 15

Many cities across the world have a north/south or east/west rivalry; it’s a simple matter of tribalistic pride, sometimes base on real socio-economic differences. Then there’s Hobart vs Launceston which takes things to another extreme. Canberra’s is real but somewhat half-hearted and based partly on our spread-out and decentralised characteristics which means people often aren’t familiar with far-flung suburbs (but is that so different from Sydney, which has both a north/south and an east/west divide?).

For my part, I grew up in Turner, went to high school in Macquarie, moved to Holder when married followed by 14 years in Kambah and then 8 years in Amaroo and now in Casey (both Gungahlin for the uninitiated). For much of that time I worked in Civic. Some of those changes were dictated by my former spouse’s job, others by the availability of suitable housing. I can see good sides and not of both sides of the lake, often dictated by access to surrounding recreation as much as anything. For example I could get to the snowfields and Namadgi NP more easily from the south side, whereas I can get to the Federal and Barton Highways faster from the north side. Great mountain views from the south side, great views of the central Canberra valley on the north side.

I’m fortunate that I take part in sports which take me all over Canberra so I can appreciate it all. Am I in the minority?

JC 6:51 pm 07 May 15

old canberran said :

Spherical said :

In the 1950s when my parents bought a house on the north side of the lake my grandparents were perplexed why they would do such a thing. Manuka and Kingston were the main shops, unless you went to Queanbeyan for an important shopping trip.
* Remember: the Commonwealth Bridge WAS washed away in the flood.

As far as I can remember, Commonwealth Bridge was never washed away. It was closed once when the water rose to within a foot of the roadway for a day or so. I would be interested to learn otherwise.

Maybe they are confused with the railway line which got washed away. Remember the railway line used to run To the city more or less along what is now constitution avenue. But that was in the 20’s even before Canberra became the seat of government.

sonotme 7:02 pm 07 May 15

I just think it is what you know. I have lived on the north my whole life and would never move south. Things are just closer on the north side. I grew up in Hall(at time as far north as you could go) and it was still faster and closer for me to go to all of your so called south side “tourist attractions” then if I lived in Banks, Gordon, Theodore, or Calwell.

Now I live in god’s country… Belconnen so I’m off to drink my long neck pat my pit-bull.

HowObscure 7:16 am 08 May 15

Coincidence! Tonight (Fri), I’m going to Theatresports Nth v Sth “The Battle of Canberra” at Casino Canberra. Of course, this is just a improvised comedy theatre show, where the audience can cheer the team representing their side of the lake, but the Facebook page for this particular show has a stack more members than the page for the theatre company that puts it on, even though this is only one season out of their whole year. (I hear it’s their most popular season).

I think the whole Nth v Sth debate is largely tongue in cheek, and a good excuse for some fun between friends. I think the travel situation is better described inner and outer Canberra. People will travel in to the city from an outer suburb, but they have fewer reasons to travel to the opposite side of town. People from the inner suburbs will cross the lake endlessly, but have fewer reasons to head to the outer suburbs.

If anyone was interested, the show at the Casino (Galaxy Nightclub) is definitely a laugh-a-minute affair, starts at 7:00pm, and is $20 at the door or online. There are four shows over May/June. I’ll be the guy cheering for Nth, as if it mattered, just because it seems fun to do that, and will provoke the Southside friends coming along 🙂

pajs 10:31 am 08 May 15

The South does have a particular smell, I find. Something to do with Mugga, perhaps?

rosscoact 11:57 am 08 May 15

pajs said :

The South does have a particular smell, I find. Something to do with Mugga, perhaps?

I thought that smell was a mixture of righteous indignation and defeat

dungfungus 12:02 pm 08 May 15

pajs said :

The South does have a particular smell, I find. Something to do with Mugga, perhaps?

Remember, half of the waste at Mugga Lane tip comes from the North.
Tests have shown that only the stuff from the North smells.

chewy14 12:42 pm 08 May 15

pajs said :

The South does have a particular smell, I find. Something to do with Mugga, perhaps?

Don’t worry, we’re sending all our asbestos right back at ya!

Spherical 11:14 pm 09 May 15

old canberran said :

Spherical said :

In the 1950s when my parents bought a house on the north side of the lake my grandparents were perplexed why they would do such a thing. Manuka and Kingston were the main shops, unless you went to Queanbeyan for an important shopping trip.
* Remember: the Commonwealth Bridge WAS washed away in the flood.

As far as I can remember, Commonwealth Bridge was never washed away. It was closed once when the water rose to within a foot of the roadway for a day or so. I would be interested to learn otherwise.

Thanks for the homework, yet I did it.
Page 31, of ‘A Century of Canberra Engineering’ Keith Baker has a picture of the Commonwealth Ave Bridge abutment washed away in the 1925 flood. The bridge was OK, but the road was closed.

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