It is historically traditional that the opening of every new major institution in Canberra requires dignitaries to slog across a desolate paddock.
In which case the grandly named Canberra International Arboretum and Gardens might still be destined for greatness.
There were certainly enough support staff in attendance to greet George (the kelpie of few achievments) and I.
Parking off Lady Denman drive we were marshalled by an army of security guards and traffic controllers, we passed by a double line of bucket shakers, making the required gold coin supplication. We went past the buses that were ferrying the old and infirm to the top of the hill, and were directed onto the pedestrian path the very few young and fit were taking. Incidentally there were ACTION buses taking people to the bottom of the path, but Murray’s buses driving them to the top of the hill.
To his few accomplishments George can now add taking a huge double-hander of a crap on the arboretum path. (I had a bag, I used it).
We trudged up the bare hillside, past the neatly arrayed rows of very young saplings. The view of the rest of Canberra’s quite good up there, until the trees grow.
At the top of the hill there was a smattering of groups that had agreed to be roped in and provide some colour.
A few kids were getting a kick being driven around on the back of a Bushfire Service truck. The biggest single group was the people lining up to be driven back down the hill.
A Ngunnawall elder observed over the PA system that all the new trees would be nicer than the old pine forest, once they grew. The elder was solemnly thanked for this demonstration of the wisdom held only by traditional owners.
The usual hectoring Government crap was set up in the usual tents that infest every event trying to pick up the “community” tag.
In short the best thing about it was the walk, which probably could have been achieved at much less expense. In any event most people caught the bus.
In years to come I’m sure it will be very nice and wedding parties can get into fist fights about who’s got it booked before they can get to the serious part of their civil ceremonies, the reading of bad poetry by the fat friend wearing purple.
Right now I can’t help thinking there’s a bit of a push on to install the controversial project in everyone’s hearts and minds. Presumably so we don’t mind funding it while other existing (and better loved) infrastructure crumbles.
For the time being, you could put the Big Day Out on the hilltop, and it would still be the Big Day Out, but the hilltop is just an empty windswept hilltop.
Which is quite good for kites.