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Novelist seeks advice on Canberra

By 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.

What’s Your opinion?

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36 Responses to
Novelist seeks advice on Canberra
Postalgeek 4:15 pm 16 May 09

squashee said :

Postalgeek – I think you will find Oaks Estate is on the Canberra side of the border. There is no way Queanbeyan wants to claim any part of Oaks Estate. But I’m sure the cops do have a fun time there.

Absolutely correct. My bad. Apologies to Queanbeyan.

goose 3:19 pm 16 May 09

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

squashee 3:19 pm 16 May 09

Postalgeek – I think you will find Oaks Estate is on the Canberra side of the border. There is no way Queanbeyan wants to claim any part of Oaks Estate. But I’m sure the cops do have a fun time there.

Steady Eddie 3:18 pm 16 May 09

grunge_hippy said :

dont forget our much beloved causeway. the macquarie fields of canberra.

. . . or Charnwood, the Rosemeadow of Canberra.

Postalgeek 1:52 pm 16 May 09

I think Oaks Estate deserves a mention, even though it exists on the on the Queanbeyan side of the Canberra/Queanbeyan border. Cops always have a fun time there.

And some people have a short memory. Two members of the Rebel club were murdered in Canberra in March.

notdingers 12:20 pm 16 May 09

There is a kind of forgotten suburb called the Causeway which would probably work. It is next to the train lines and is mostly government housing. Not sure exactly what the people are like there but I am sure you could use artistic license. What always makes it look strange to me is the it seems like it was half built and then abandoned because there are a lot of vacant blocks that have the driveway part of the curb but no house or drive way. If you go to google maps and search for Causeway Canberra and use the street view you will able to see what I mean.

Also at one end of the suburb is a large abandoned warehouse which used to be a PetBarn I think.

Not too far away on Mugga Lane is an burnt out old zoo that could also serve for a location, you can see some pictures here from a story The-RiotACT previously did on it

Not sure what you mean by the same problems as Melbourne and Sydney, are you trying to work in an Underbelly type of angle? If so in Canberra the biggest trouble spots are public housing blocks that are located in otherwise good areas, Canberra doesn’t really have housing estate suburbs, we mix them in with everyone else. A few places to look up like this would be Stuart Flats, Burnie Court (now demolished), Frasier court (closed down) I am sure some Rioters can suggest some of the other dodgy flats in town.

There is a bikie presence in Canberra and Queanbyan, I know there is a club house in Fyshwick and Wanniassa but because the majority of bikies here are all one particular club (maybe all) you don’t get the bikie war sort of thing happening as much as other places.

Hope this helps and gives you a few ideas.

Deadmandrinking 12:07 pm 16 May 09

1) There’s a few around. Best I know is that Inn in Jamison that squatter set fire to.

2) Charnwood is your traditional bet. It’s a suburb on the outskirts of Belconnen that is the product of the failed Radburn design. There’s more about it on wiki. Also, the public housing estates around Braddon and along Northbourne Avenue are well known for drug-addicts and trouble. Oaks Estate and the Causeway (as someone mentioned before) are public housing areas.

3) There’s only one, the Rebels, who pretty much control most of the brothels and other seedy affairs in Mitchell and Fyshwick, two of Canberra’s industrial suburbs.

Your best bet for a location that combines these three elements would most likely be around the Fyshwick/Queanbeyan area. Fyshwick’s a very seedy part of town at night, and Queanbeyan, or Oak’s Estate. Fyshwick’s also reasonably well known around Australia for the XXX porn and the fireworks there (Probably the only other part of Canberra most people know bar the Barton area).

Take a look at those places on Googlemaps (even better, come to Canberra and have a drive around) and good luck with your writing.

trevar 11:58 am 16 May 09

Plenty of people will tell you that suburbs like Charnwood and Kambah are rough, but they don’t really deserve their reputation, as they really don’t resemble Sydney’s rougher suburbs in the slightest. Canberra never put enormous quantities of public housing all together, although there was a bit of a glut in Charnwood and Kambah. In these suburbs, even public houses are mostly brick veneer, rather than fibro, although many have a similar front yard appearance to places like Mount Druitt or Green Valley (I only know Sydney, don’t know of an equivalent Melbourne suburb). Small shopping centres are much the same, too. And like the poorer areas of Sydney, middle classes are moving in for cheaper houses, and improving the general appearance of the place.

As for abandoned buildings, no. I think mainly because the city was mostly built in the last 40 years, there isn’t much that’s worth abandoning; what was worth abandoning was close to the centre, and has either been renovated or demolished.

Bikie gangs we have. I know nothing about them, other than that, though.

grunge_hippy 11:54 am 16 May 09

dont forget our much beloved causeway. the macquarie fields of canberra.

johnboy 11:51 am 16 May 09

When the Rebels come for Rat Patrol we’ll remember it was all your fault I-filed.

I-filed 11:39 am 16 May 09

Friedrich the Great, here is some valuable info for your novel!

1. Yes. There’s a dreadful suburb on the fringe of town called Forrest. It largely consists of concrete public housing towers. Some are indeed burnt out.

2. There’s an exceptionally rough area called Griffith/Deakin/Yarralumla. The shopping centre at Griffith is die-hard rough, with brothels and porno flick studios upstairs. No hippies there!

3. Bikie gangs? God yes. Really nasty ones. Biggest home grown bikie gang is Rat Patrol. Their informal headquarters is a really down-at-heel den of iniquity called the Hyatt Hotel, in Parkes, where the beer’s cheap. There’s also a rough bikie pub called Tilleys at the Lyneham Shops. Women hardly dare go there.

Thumper 11:36 am 16 May 09

astro is right. if you are going to write about Canberra then you will need to get a feeling of the place as it’s a lot different to other capital cities.

Keep posting here for information or use the search button, if there’s one thing on RA it’s information, not all 100% correct, but heaps 😉

All the best.

astrojax 11:29 am 16 May 09

meant to add, good luck with the writing, though!

astrojax 11:29 am 16 May 09

if you’re going to try to set a novel in canberra using such locations, i’d suggest coming here and looking for yourself, or changing ‘canberra’ to ‘c___’, or something…

Thumper 11:27 am 16 May 09

1. Yes

2. Yes

3. Not a great presence.

1 2 3

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