So I’m a Canberra newbie, having just officially survived my first winter. I’m even starting to consider myself a Canberran and find myself fiercely promoting it to all of my friends and family back home. When contemplating the big move from the coast of Western Australia; I asked a few people that I knew that already lived or had lived in Canberra about what kind of things I can expect from the nation’s capital. Cue the jokes about how there’s nothing to do, the freezing temperatures and the amount of public servants. And I’m not kidding- that’s what I was told. But mostly it was all tongue in cheek. The one thing that’s always added to the end of any Canberra sell is “Oh and well we’ve got Floriade”. Having never heard of Floriade this seemed a rather strange concept to me. A whole month of flower displays can bring in a whopping crowd of 450,000 visitors far and wide, tourists, media not just our local surrounds but also from across the world to see?
So, I set off to investigate this phenomenon myself.
True to the rumours it’s a feast for the eyes, and all of your senses at once. A load of activities happening at once from live music to workshops, to plenty of things for the kids to do. Positively engaging if I could sum it up in two words. AND entry is FREE! Alost unheard of these days.
I have also recently learnt that Nightfest (though not free) was actually voted as the top event that Canberrans love. And this got me thinking, this is an event that really is uniquely Canberra. Canberra can offer these very different community experiences that you just don’t get to be part of in other cities. Regardless of its transient nature, the capital is one very tight knit, big warm hug.
So I thought next time; before you are asked and the word Floriade simply rolls of your tongue, I thought I’d point out a couple of other great uniquely Canberra experiences I’ve had in my short time here: (and still too many to mention)
The War Memorial. A building that houses some of our proudest and most emotionally stirring moments in our history, yet in my travels I’ve been hard pressed to find a truly local Canberran that had been in the last couple of years, or even ever! I find this so surprising when it’s only a gold coin donation to get in, it could be a full day of activity for a family and a seriously amazing building.
The weather. Yes, winter is absolutely freezing. Coming from Western Australia where the days certainly might be warmer, I think we are so lucky to have so many days in winter where the sun is shining and it’s not even raining. Perth has storm after storm and sideways rain that really ruins your ensemble when your Umbrella is inside out. In fact my visit only on the weekend proved this with 24 hours of rain so much so you don’t even want to leave your house. Canberra? Nothings holding us back from a night out in Civic, pop on a coat and you’re good to go!
The community vibe. Given the large demographic group of 30 something’s in Canberra I have personally found it easy to make new friends. I’ve been lucky enough to join some groups in town, specifically Meetup groups which are hugely popular and active in our community. The great thing is, everyone is looking to make friends or expand their networking circle. I’ve always said it’s like dating for friends. But it’s also a great way to get our and date this great city, try a new restaurant or punish yourself for the first time walking up Mount Ainslie!
My point is, having known absolutely nothing about Canberra until just before I moved here. I think this place is really sold short. It’s a great kept secret- that I’m only too happy to keep exploring.