27 December 2019

So ... where the bloody hell are we? ACT goes missing in new tourism ad

| Genevieve Jacobs
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Kylie Minogue

Kylie Minogue leads the new Matesong campaign (minus the ACT). Photo: Supplied.

We might have the nation’s number one tourist attraction in the Australian War Memorial. We might have the mighty national institutions and a city ringed by bush with great food and wine. We could even be the “coolest little capital” in the world, feted for our liveable lovableness.

But we still don’t get a guernsey in the latest and highly controversial, new Tourism Australia ad released this week. Featuring Kylie Minogue and Adam Hills, the ad is designed to appeal to jaded Brexit survivors, battered senseless by brutal politics and an icy British winter.

“Your besties across the ocean are calling,” the ad tells tired Brits. A bearded Hills concedes that lengthy trade negotiations are a shocker but look, Kylie says, “there’s a quokka! That’s what you need!” (Cue swelling chorus about a quokka being really, really what you need).

The ad cost $15 million to make and aired in Britain immediately before the Queen’s Christmas speech. Our Kylie took on a distinctly regal mien, describing a year that’s been “tough and confusing” before pushing away faux palace walls decorated with wombat portraits to reveal a beach full of friendly locals, sunshine and even koalas.

Icy cold beers slide down bars, Kylie reprises her role as Charlene from Neighbours and various people warble, more or less in tune, to Matesong, composed by Eddie Perfect. Producers say they travelled around the nation to film evocatively Australian places and people.

And so, everyone from Shane Warne to Ian Thorpe makes an appearance across a series of locations from Sandringham Beach to Sydney Harbour via Uluru, Rottnest and Byron Bay, in every state and territory in the country.

Except here.

The nation’s bush capital, its beating heart, is conspicuous by its absence. And this despite the fact that more than 266,000 foreign tourists did manage to find us last year, a new record.

Now, possibly the smoke haze has been a little heavy recently. Admittedly Lake Burley Griffin is short on waves and long on carp and blue-green algae. And kangaroos thronging golf courses like the cast from a marsupial Valley of the Dead don’t quite cut it on the cute-factor scale.

But surely there was room for one soaring shot of Parliament House? Couldn’t someone have strolled past Blue Poles or the Jackie Chan mural at the Dickson Motor Registry? Stroked a bettong inside the Mulligans Flat razor wire? Gone skinny dipping down at Kambah Pool (mind the brown snakes)?

Or even just ascended into the crisp, clear morning air in a balloon shaped like a giant beagle?

Tourism Australia is not taking calls on the subject. Other media criticism has centred on the ad’s supposed lack of diversity and cringe factor.

Earlier this year, Tourism Australian launched the larger ‘Philausophy’ advertising campaign that looks to focus on ordinary Australians and how welcoming we are. Tourists are encouraged to live the Australian ‘Philausophy’ and experience the laid back, easygoing nature of Australians.

Just not in our neck of the woods, by the look of it.

Should Canberra be part of the new Australian tourism ad, or was this a lucky escape for the Territory?

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Honestly…i only came to Canberra because it was the last place i would think to find myself…it is like a cross between the Stepford Wives and a 1960s European sci-fi movie…i struggle to work out why people live here yet alone choose it as a tourist destination so in other words, it was a smart move to leave it out of the tourism campaign.

Surely the Sears workwear guy deserved a spot before Ian Thorpe.

How do ya know? Better than Where the bloody hell are you? Unless you are ScoMo.

Capital Retro5:37 pm 28 Dec 19

“Pretty sure there is more to Australia than beaches, cricket and boozes.”

This is a targeted ad and the target audience rates very highly what you have mentioned. Most of the “fish and chip only” takeaways have closed down and I haven’t seen “bangers and mash” on the menu at the Kingo for a long while so they won’t be coming to Canberra.

Kylie Aitkenhead1:42 pm 28 Dec 19

Who says Canberra isn’t included… the ad doesn’t name specific places?! The great food, art gallery or bush scenes could all represent Canberra to be fair! A shot of Parliament House or Anzac Parade from Mt Ainsley isn’t exactly going to motivate a Pom to come visit Australia… Do Aussies wanting to travel to the US put Washington as their first stop… No! Or will a photo of 10 Downing Street make Aussies long for a trip to London. Ppffftt… No!
Canberra is a hidden gem… Something tourists find or discover once they’ve already decided to come to Australia! And we all know tourists won’t be disappointed when they arrive! Nothing to whinge about Canberra… keep calm & carry on!

… yep, they didn’t include the rainbow roundabout or the tram. Who cares?

It’s an excellent ad. It’s aimed at young Brits, not us. And am I the only one who got the “Sandringham” “Beach” riff?

Kellie Petersen Huey8:43 pm 27 Dec 19

Canberra has National museum and questacom plus more, my interstate guests avoid Sydney and stay extra days enjoying what we offer.. including our history.. I really dislike the tone of this ad and am not impressed

It’s a compliment to be left out of this piece of crap by a woman who hasn’t lieved here for 25 years.

Kellie Petersen Huey8:43 pm 27 Dec 19


Dot The Possum3:26 pm 27 Dec 19

If the ad is aimed at post-Brexit poms, the image of an administrative capital with a soupçon of PC culture would be all too EU. Albeit with better weather..

I would say it is probably a good thing we were not included in that. I’ve seen the interviews on TV with Brits at Bondi Beach less than impressed by the bushfire smoke and blocked highways and saying they should have stayed home. The last thing we need is to be slammed in bad reviews by Brits who arrive here and find out that the carefree image of sun and surf they were sold by the tourism ads is at odds with what is really happening in this country at the present time.

You mention “We might have the nation’s number one tourist attraction in the Australian War Memorial ” and indeed we do.
But the Brits have War Memorials and military museums galore. Not sure if they would need to know about another one.

The best parts of Canberra are those parts so far unspoilt by the ACT government, like the mist rising off the lake, the autumn leaves, snow on the Brindabellas… Tourists are not attracted to a tram tumbling up treeless streets past bland apartment blocks to the wasteland of Gungalin.

You are right tourists wouldn’t really be attracted to the areas that the tram would take one too. But treeless? Last time I looked there were plenty of trees down the middle of Northborne Ave and Flemmington road. They are not big ones mind you but treeless?

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