Which stories resonated most with our readers in 2016? It turns out that on Facebook, where one of you became the 20,000th reader to ‘like’ us this month, you’re interested in cheap flights, numberplate slogans, Dutch pancakes, chips on sticks, green bins, sausage sizzles, live video of planes landing, chocolate fundraisers, indoor sports arenas and suspicious fires. Let’s relive the RiotACT’s biggest Facebook moments of the year …
10. Manuka restaurant site gutted by flames
We remain fascinated by fire, with several blaze-related stories ranking highly on the RiotACT this year. The most-read of them all on Facebook was this article about the destruction by flames of the vacant restaurant in the cinema building on the corner of Franklin Street and Furneaux Street, Manuka. The site was gutted by fire in the early hours of November 30, a few months after the last tenant, mediterranean restaurant Avesta, had closed. Formerly home to Tosolini’s, Pangaea, Charlie Black, Metropole, On Furneaux and Pheast, the commercial space is part of a building owned by Sotiria Liangis’s Liangis Investments. It had been up for lease after Avesta’s closure earlier this year.
9. Tuggeranong the loser as mpowerdome remains closed
On November 19, Robert Issell wrote a piece that resonated with families all over the city, opening with the line: “It’s a real shame that mpowerdome has been closed since April this year after 10 years of operation.” The multi-purpose indoor sports facility at Fadden has long been a favourite for children’s birthday parties, but was also the venue for regular sporting activities for many in the Tuggeranong region, including organisations like the South Canberra Futsal Association. Rumours about why it remains closed abound, and we’ll be keeping a watch on this one in 2017.
8. Ban of dogs in playground, BBQ areas in force, on-leash parks added
In January, the ACT Government announced that dogs were prohibited from playground equipment and barbecue areas in the ACT, as well as being required to be on a leash on all paths, cycleways and in all major parks. It also introduced a number of new off-leash areas. A common theme in reader responses was this one: “Big dog, little dog, on leash, off leash, owners PLEASE take a poo bag with you. Dog s%^t is a terrible pollutant in a public space.”
7. Kudos to ACT Govt for chocolate fundraiser ban in its workplaces
In mid-December we learnt that public servants working for the ACT Government in one capacity or another will not be able to buy or sell fundraising chocolates in their workplaces from late 2017 after a contentious rule introduction that will be phased in over the coming year. It was one of those days when it was best that someone other than the writer of the opinion piece moderated the comments, as critics slammed the author for taking a view that this was a sensible decision for the health and wellbeing of many Canberrans. Here’s one of my favourites, from Heavs: “In the near future you’re going to have groups of public servants huddled outside the building (15m away from the entrance of course) smashing down a quick Bounty or Mars in the wind and rain before shuffling back to their desk.”
6. Best of Canberra callout: Polling booth sausage sizzles
On June 29, with the Federal election just days away, we put out a call for recommendations on where to vote based on one thing alone: the humble #democracysausage. As that week went on, the interest in all matters #snagvotes became sizzling, breaking all sorts of social media records and becoming almost as big a story as the cliffhanger result of the poll. We hope our article with its tips about the Election Sausage Sizzle website/app (www.electionsausagesizzle.com.au), Twitter handle @sausagesizzles and ‘Like’ Snagvotes on Facebook helped inspire you all to support a community organisation by buying a sausage or a cupcake on election day. Both of them! Now we’re glad we can put elections behind us for a while.
5. The first Singapore Airlines flight touching down at Canberra Airport (video)
We sent Josh Mulrine out into the rain on the tarmac at Canberra Airport to catch the landing there of the first Singapore Airlines direct international flight on September 21, and he brought just the right level of excitement to the call. Hundreds of you shared our Facebook live video, with thousands watching as the plane landed, catching up on the coverage later, or both. Was this the moment we became a world city? “What an awesome sight! Left Canberra over 20 years ago but seeing this still makes my heart flutter! Simply exquisite!” wrote Rumi Masih. “A giant leap for Canberra!!!” added Rachel Murphy. Tanya Tanya Tanya was less enthused, chiming in with: “Geez Canberra people really need lives“.
4. Green bins on way, starting in Weston Creek, Kambah
On May 28, the ACT Government announced it would institute a green waste bin for residents, starting with a pilot program in Weston Creek and Kambah. RiotACT readers responded with a mix of their trademark enthusiasm and cynicism: “Wow, local Labor is really panicking, hey! Actually doing something people have been asking for for years, AND starting the roll out southside!” wrote Miz. “The Good: Green bins are finally here. The Bad: The $50 “deposit” ! Why ?? The Ugly: After years and years of stonewalling, finally implementing – in an election year. Its not that I’m cynical mind you … Overall: Great,” added Rommeldog56.
3. Calls for ban on Dutch pancakes, chips on sticks at Multicultural Festival
On February 15, we ran a story about a Change.org petition calling for a ban on Dutch pancakes and chips on sticks at the Multicultural Festival. The organiser of the petition felt the huge queues for the stalls were making it hard for attendees to get around the festival, and the dishes themselves, which were available throughout the year at other venues, were distracting us all from trying more unusual multicultural fare. Not everyone took the petition seriously … “Chip on a stick is one of the most reactionary foods since smashed avocado with quinoa risotto,” wrote Dylan Clements. “Dutch pancakes are a confusing size,” added Joseph Buckmaster. “Garema Place is chocked by pancake (dutch) like a person who is also chocked [sic] on a dutch pancake (OH&S risk), blocking the flow of the oesophagus (multiculturalism) into our belly (Canberra)” wrote Leon Twardy.
2. Canberrans take up #CBRnumberplates challenge
On September 7, Chief Minister Andrew Barr put a call out for entries in a competition to come up with a new slogan for the Territory’s numberplates. We loved your suggestions on Facebook, from ‘Where the science hub of the nation is used for Pokemon’ to the very popular ‘APS 4 in the streets, EL2 in the sheets’ or ‘The Roundabout Capital’ and ‘Unbelievable chicken, awesome chips’.
1. Tigerair MEL-CBR flights on sale from $19 from noon
On November 16, some three weeks before Tigerair’s first flights from Canberra to Melbourne got underway, the airline announced a series of special deals including flights for as little as $19 one way. Our story on the sale went viral as RiotACT readers celebrated the return of discounted flights from the Territory to the Victorian capital.