Novelist seeks advice on Canberra

Friedrich the great 16 May 2009 36

I want to know whether the following are plausible – Firstly are there any abandoned buildings at the edge of Canberra, possibly half burnt out, where vagabonds would be able to squat for a few weeks without being noticed?

Are there neighbourhoods of Canberra which are a bit rough or have a lot of public housing estates? What do they look like? What sort of people live there? Do they suffer the same problems that occur in other cities ie Melbourne, Sydney?

What about bikie gangs in Canberra, what sort of presence do they have? Feel free to discuss anything in this vein.


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36 Responses to Novelist seeks advice on Canberra
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cleo cleo 9:35 pm 14 Jun 10

Yes you do need to be in Canberra to get your story, as Canberra likes to sweep things under the carpet, it’s known as a “Mickey Mouse” town.

cleo cleo 9:26 pm 14 Jun 10

The Rebels here in Canberra were once called The rats

sepi sepi 9:21 pm 21 May 09

Actually there are some empty shops in the middle of the Melbourne Building on Northbourne AVE right in the city.

There are also empty local suburban shopping centres around (formerly about 6 shops around a courtyard or in a row – butcher/chemist/newsagent/tiny supermarket/hairdresser) – like Downer shops.

dare2dream dare2dream 8:26 pm 21 May 09

An abandoned bus shelter or toilet block is probably as good as it gets in Canberra. Now, just over the border, a different story. Try Cantle’s cottage. It’s in Booth Street, Queanbeyan. It’s derelict. It has a cellar out the back and a well out the front and rumour has it that a man died while digging the well. It’s in a pretty rough area -especially at night. There have been, I believe, at least two murders at the near by ‘swing bridge’.

peterh peterh 10:24 am 20 May 09

BerraBoy68 said :

Friedich, as with other posters I’d advise using one of abandoned schools as a good place to hide. One down the road from me (Mt Neighbour in Kambah) appears to be secure but I’ve been there when security walk straight past doors I know to be open without even checking them.

Also, the SES use this school on occasion for exercises which might provide an additional story line of having to hide when people in bright orange suits turn up and run around on the roof for several hours without actually looking inside. For that matter the AFP have also used the building for anti-terrorism exercises. There’s also a shopping Centre within an easy 300-400 mtrs walk for food and a good size Club (the Burns Club) nearby. There’s even a small take away just across the road (Carleton St). All seems a bit convenient, really.

berraboy, the takeaway would be a good site for a food poisoning outbreak. starting to get a bit iffy when they need to put a sign up to let people know they are open, and on a friday night it is nearly empty…

It is a shame that the old haunts were ripped down. (for a book setting, of course) Melba flats were perfect for this type of setting, as was burnie court.

we don’t seem to have many old buildings nowadays, they all seem to be ripped out and new buildings quickly take their place.

neanderthalsis neanderthalsis 10:02 am 20 May 09

There was a spook novel called Stratagem based in Canberra and written in the 80’s. Had political intrigue, kidnap, Russians (remember when they were still the bad guys?), ASIS spooks, brothels and a enough murder to keep Pol Pot entertained; if I remember correctly, I picked it up off a remainder table many years ago. I have it buried on a shelf somewhere at home, can’t recall the authors name though.

Could be a good read to get some ideas.

BerraBoy68 BerraBoy68 8:26 am 20 May 09

Friedich, as with other posters I’d advise using one of abandoned schools as a good place to hide. One down the road from me (Mt Neighbour in Kambah) appears to be secure but I’ve been there when security walk straight past doors I know to be open without even checking them.

Also, the SES use this school on occasion for exercises which might provide an additional story line of having to hide when people in bright orange suits turn up and run around on the roof for several hours without actually looking inside. For that matter the AFP have also used the building for anti-terrorism exercises. There’s also a shopping Centre within an easy 300-400 mtrs walk for food and a good size Club (the Burns Club) nearby. There’s even a small take away just across the road (Carleton St). All seems a bit convenient, really.

Ryoma Ryoma 8:15 am 20 May 09

Friedrich,

to understand the Canberra culture, I suggest you spend more time here on this website. You will see all sorts of comments made, and it will definitely help your local knowledge – as it is doing for me 🙂

Look forward to seeing the book when it’s done.

trevar trevar 5:26 pm 17 May 09

Friedrich the great said :

I would like to think that in Canberra she could find someone crazy enough to want to go in for a political kidnapping and that there would be a place at the edge of town where they could hide out without being noticed.

The vacant schools are a great idea for that; but Goulburn or Cooma are good options too. They actually have a few abandoned buildings, and they’re within commuting distance of Canberra.

The plot sounds interesting…

farnarkler farnarkler 2:23 pm 17 May 09

Will Sir Les Patterson make an appearance in your book? I certainnly hope so.

Deadmandrinking Deadmandrinking 12:14 pm 17 May 09

Friedich, I’d definitely look at the relationship between the public service and Fyshwick’s red light district if you’re looking for political intrigue. There’s been at least one documented case of secret information being passed through a brothel. Maybe you’ll be able to find a realistic scenario for a political kidnapping by researching what’s gone there.

Feathergirl Feathergirl 10:22 am 17 May 09

Don’t forget all those secret tunnels under Canberra too Thumper.

Really though, why go for the cliche of an abandoned squatter house for stuffing your kidnap victim in? In Canberra you have SO many more interesting places in which to go all Reservoir Dogs. How about a X-rated DVD editing suite? AXIS is in Fyshwick – it’s a good industrial area. Or we have many fine forests that are spooky, you could even work in snow – couldn’t do that in Sydney or Melbourne. The military settlement near the airport is a interesting location, just keep your victim quiet as the empty buildings out there are filled with zombies who hunger for brain – BRAIN. I also saw a duck there once.

Thumper Thumper 9:21 am 17 May 09

And of course, everyone forgot to mention the secret underground NASA/ MI5/ SETI/ FBI/ Illuminati/ One World Order installation that holds UFOs as well as conducts bizarre experiments on hyrid UFO greys, reptilians and people.

This is located at Lawson and is cunningly disguised as a paddock full of kangaroos.

Thumper Thumper 9:16 am 17 May 09

An Australian Fritz the Cat?

astrojax astrojax 8:22 am 17 May 09

you could also read marion halligan, who sets much of her work here, or david foster’s ‘plumbum’, for works set in canberra.

there is a lot of redevelopment going on in the parliamentary triangle at the moment, too, so abandoned/being-torn-down buildings could offer you a hidey hole option? and remember sitting times – pollies are only here occasionally, so any time markers need to reflect sitting weeks…

don’t forget, if it is to be in canberra, someone will have to be overcharged five dollars for pizza.

TP 3000 TP 3000 2:35 am 17 May 09

If you are looking for abandoned buildings, look for all the schools that were shut down in the last few years. While the schools in Kambah are having work done to them, quite a few others have just been left to rot.

Friedrich the great Friedrich the great 12:07 am 17 May 09

Thanks to all!

The information here is top rate and I think I have enough ideas now to make it work. I already know a little bit about what I’m doing. I’ve been to Canberra twice in the last two years – and both times driven around, talked to some locals etc. Hopefully before the book is printed I’ll have the opportunity to go there again – I’ve always been attracted to Canberra because it seems to epitomize certain aspects of Australia and yet not a lot of authors etc have used it. (Next time I will drive around the areas you mentioned).

This novel is a comical road story set in different Australian locations. The protagonist is a rebellious girl who sets out to challenge every aspect of Australian society (with not much success) but on the way associates with a lot of eccentric people. I would like to think that in Canberra she could find someone crazy enough to want to go in for a political kidnapping and that there would be a place at the edge of town where they could hide out without being noticed. I could tell you more but it might turn you off.

Again thanks to all. You can send more information if you want to, everything has been useful. I liked the pictures of the zoo especially.

f

Skidbladnir Skidbladnir 11:57 pm 16 May 09

Do you want your story to be believable to an average Australian, or realistic to people who live in or will ever visit Canberra?
Canberra is a pretty wierd place to people from otherwhere.

jessieduck jessieduck 5:47 pm 16 May 09

goose said :

Canberra is the right place if that’s what you are after (Stanhope made it like this)

Hell, Stanhope might even give the writer an Arts Grant to play with to showcase Canberra as the city of his vision!

jessieduck jessieduck 5:45 pm 16 May 09

The “edge of Canberra” is a bit sticky because the city is built around a number of satellites- Gungahlin, Belconnen, Civic, Woden and Tuggeranong- so each of those places has a fringe. Places like Yass, Captains Flat and Cooma are kind of on the edge of Canberra if your “edge” is an hour away.

If you have a political conspiracy bent to your story you’ll need to have your crims near Civic or Woden because that is closest to the Parliamentary Triangle. Your vagabonds could be hanging out in the abandoned flats in Griffith (aka Stab City)

Give us your angle and we can give you better advice.

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