11 January 2023

This is not your standard anti-Summernats opinion piece

| Zoya Patel
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This isn’t why Zoya isn’t a fan of Summernats. Photo: Summernats.

If you’re already rolling your eyes at the headline, I promise I’m not here to rehash old territory when it comes to Summernats.

We’ve heard it all before – the usual anti-Summernats arguments about the noise, air pollution, at-times rowdy behaviour, congested roads, etc etc. At the heart of it, many Canberrans simply don’t feel the festival aligns with the perceived interests of the local community. And let’s be real, there’s a fair amount of snobbery in that belief too.

I’m not an anti-Summernats crusader. I have no interest in attending but I feel as irritated as any other northside resident who has to detour due to road closures, endure endless burnout noise and watch the smoke rise from EPIC during the festival.

But I also fundamentally believe that community events are a positive thing, and I accept that just as not everyone needs to like my hobbies for me to want to access and enjoy them, the same applies to car enthusiasts who flock to Summernats.

READ ALSO ‘Gross negligence, selfish’: police union slams Summernats security, calls for independent audit

Every year, I try to weather Summernats with an open mind and a commitment to not judge attendees. I’ll admit that, as a woman, that’s not always easy – while the catcalling and rude behaviour does seem to have ebbed slightly over the years, it’s still not a great time to be out in public, especially at night.

There was still oggling and the occasional yelled remark at Eaglehawk pub, but it’s definitely less full-on than years ago when I couldn’t walk through Braddon without strange men guessing my bra size from car windows, or just generally being rude.

Putting that aside, I love the fact that there is so much community around the event. As an external observer, I can tell that it’s the highlight of the year for many attendees, that they meet up with friends and socialise throughout the week, and that for people who really love the exhibits, it’s incredibly fun.

Friends of mine take their kids and share pics of the beautiful vehicles they see online, and I watched families setting up for the parade with picnic foods and camp chairs. After the past few years, it’s just nice to see people together and build community.

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The issue with Summernats is that, despite the positives for people who attend, there are so many negative impacts on those of us who don’t attend, and we have no choice but to bear them.

I spent an hour waiting in traffic on Ginninderra Drive on Thursday before the parade road closures had even commenced, just because there was so much traffic trying to find parking and turning off into EPIC. An hour. To get from Ginninderra Drive to Dickson.

The noise pollution wasn’t too bad this year, but there was a bit of dangerous driving and stressful traffic incidents throughout the festival. For those of us who live in the vicinity, just the increased number of people in the area meant delays in getting places and accessing the petrol station or shops.

These minor inconveniences build up, and it just takes one rude Summernats attendee calling something out of their car window to make the otherwise ambivalent Canberran snap.

So it occurs to me that if we could just reduce the negative impact on non-attendees, maybe we could live and let live. There need to be more traffic management systems in place, better access to parking, and better communication of road closures to local residents so we can plan more effectively.

Summernats brings money to Canberra and joy to attendees. I’m all for it, but it’s hard to advocate for the pros of a festival I don’t even want to attend when my mates who equally don’t care about the content of the event are complaining about the negative impacts on their day-to-day.

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If you’ve never been , go, Ill take you or Ill organise for my Daughter to take you. Been to most since the beginning, its very tame today, 4 arrests ? sheesh , probably more over the show weekend.

So an hour to get from Ginninderra Drive to Dickson one day of the year?

Add up the extra time that crossing the light rail at Northbourne Ave adds to that journey on average throughout the year and I’ll bet it adds a lot more than an hour per year to that 5 minute drive.

Are you going to complain bout that because they should hve put the tracks on overpasses at every intersection.

Crossing Northbourne Avenue has become an absolute pain since the light rail went in.

I’m not complaining about the light rail I’m just comparing the inconvenience.

Zoya, Zoya, Zoya you are a professional communicator. You have written “Friends of mine take their kids and share pics of the beautiful vehicles they see online”. You don’t see the vehicles online when you’re at Summernats. Try “Friends of mine…share pictures online of the beautiful……”. Nonsense sentences are useless.

Ban Floriade! I hate flowers and the high pollen count during the month of Floriade … and don’t get me started on the traffic jams on Commonwealth Avenue between City Hill and Parliament House; twice a day, every day, for a whole month. The inconvenience, not to mention all that carbon monoxide spewing out from idling cars is unbearable!

Capital Retro4:59 pm 12 Jan 23

It would appear that in you younger days Zoya you were deprived of “fanging it in 351 V8” or similar motor.

Do it before you grow old.

Capital Retro, clearly that is the ultimate goal in life…. 😂🤣😂

Capital Retro, my how can ANYONE be deprived of “fanging it in a V8”
I have other things on my bucket list…

Capital Retro4:44 pm 13 Jan 23

Some people try bungee jumping. Others believe what influencers say on social media.

I agree 100% with this piece. I got caught trying to get to Sydney on Saturday. Even the back route through Watson was impossible. I had to detour to Queanbeyan and Sutton Road to get to Sydney. I was delayed a whole hour or more trying to find my way. Summernats and police need to lift their game or we will continue opposition to this event which I also support as long as the using of Canberra as their personal lay ground stops.

ChrisinTurner1:19 pm 12 Jan 23

We don’t have a police force big enough to cope with the spread of Summernats ferals into the surrounding suburbs. Dealing with the Cookers is bad enough. I suggest a $100 levy on each attendee to pay for extra interstate police.

Stephen Saunders11:41 am 12 Jan 23

At the very least, cops ought to keep up. Minute the ferals were shut out of EPIC at 6pm, they were on social media, organising multiple illegal hoon events in multiple suburbs.

Cops had no idea what was going on in real time. Or if they did, they didn’t care to protect non-ferals.

The difference between crowd/visitor behaviour at Summernats and the Bathurst 1000 is night and day. You can safely walk through the streets of Bathurst without stepping in puddles of piss or vomit, the local police are bolstered with other teams from NSW, and anyone dumb enough to try and pull a burnout in town is quickly pulled over and fined. The locals are very welcoming – even those who aren’t into motorsport – and many people choose to rent out their family houses for the race week for very good money. Would you do that for the Summernats crowd?

Yes the Bathurst races used to have a lawless, boy’s weekend element especially at the top of the hill, but that has really been watered down these days (it’s still full of “character” but it’s no longer a literal risk to life or limb for any passers-by).

Bathurst is for bogans. Summernats is for ferals.

Very well behaved in Bathurst – they just come to trash Canberra

On average the construction of the tram added 10 mins each way to my daily commute – for months… and your other complaints are about all the extra money the attendees are bringing in to local businesses…

I’ve never been to Summernats, but that’s because I prefer cars to be stock. I love V8s, or any high performance vehicle as long as it is stock. I guess that comes down to the fact that a non molested barn find Falcon GTHO is always going to be worth more than same as a highly modified model

Literally every big event comes with negative consequences for people who live nearby due to the number of additional people that will be in the area.

And that’s not even starting on when public funds are used to support the events.

If we want to apply the same lens to other community events, it will be a pretty bare calendar.

People should just accept that in a growing city, there will be events of all different types and we need to be understanding and willing to adjust for the short time that they are on.

During other “community” events, including other events at EPIC, I did not have to clean up human excrement in my front yard. I put community is quotes because is it really a community event if women (of all ages) don’t feel safe from harassment going to their local shops.

So it’s all about what has happened to you?

You make my point for me, that a lot of the opposition to Summernats is due to individual’s subjective experience of one event that they do not apply equally to other events in an objective fashion.

I’ve been to and seen plenty of events where things that I would consider disgusting or offensive have happened. Where I’ve personally been significantly inconvenienced because of the preferences of others.

But I can accept that because of the exact points I’ve made above. It isn’t all about me.

And I’ll also finish by saying that I’m not a Summernats fan, I don’t go to it and don’t really see the point in general.

But that doesn’t matter because a lot of other people do like it and I’m not so selfish to expect the city to be a bland and generic place that can’t accept a variety of events catering to all types.

Did you even read my reply? I compared it to other events at EPIC, so it wasn’t all about what happened to me. I lived in the street next to EPIC for ten years, so I saw a lot of different events there. Female neighbours of mine (ranging in age from primary school age to the elderly) copped offensive comments.


Did you even read the original comment and then follow up that you were replying to? You’ve just ignored the points raised twice.

You’ve provided your own personal anecdotal experience, which is exactly the type of argument I’ve said is irrelevant due to it’s pure subjectivity.

You don’t like the event because a minority of people behaved poorly. Something that applies to hundreds of other events for hundreds of other reasons. Many others enjoyed the event and saw and experienced no/little problems. Why should your personal thoughts control what does or doesn’t happen?

People are inconvenienced by events that others enjoy, it’s part of life in a city that accepts diversity.

Now this doesn’t give events carte blanche to do what they want and steps should be put in place to minimise negative impacts over time and that’s exactly what has happened.

If you want events with no negative impacts on others, you don’t want events at all.

Take your hand of it, you’re in public. YOU haven’t explained why this event has more negative events than other, and larger, events.

Good to see you can engage in reasonable debate about an issue, without resorting to ridiculous ad hominems.

Hilarious that your last comment starts off with pure offensive abuse, when you are apparently complaining about offensive behaviour of an event.

You can’t make this stuff up, have you ever thought that the problem is you?

I won’t deny that there are problematic people at Summernats. But I would contextialise this by saying this wouldn’t be that different from any large event. There are a minority of people that give the rest of them a bad name.

Even the coverage of the last NYE celebrations suggested there were pockets of obnoxious behaviour. I have yet to see anyone wanting to shut down NYE celebrations with the same level of vitriol.

If there are problems that need to be solving, let’s solve them. I’m not sure painting everyone out to be annoying dickheads on the basis of a small group is going to do that. Most people did the right thing, let’s just focus on how to deal with the small number of outliers rather than go after the whole event.

Yes, I did mean to be offensive with my comment because I found your condescending and patronising attitude to be offensive. You deemed my actual experience and the experiences of my female neighbours as irrelevant. What is actual experience when compared with what you might have heard from a friend of a friend of a friend of your grandfather’s butcher’s doctor? Your point about experience being subjective is vacuous. Duh! Of course experience is subjective. Stop stating the bleeding obvious and park your ignorance at the door. I think my reference to taking your hand off it is relevant to your attitude.

So as expected, it IS all about you.

Although so obliviously unaware that you still don’t get the point around why your subjective experience of bad behaviour by a tiny amount of people shouldn’t mean anything with regards to whether this event or any other should go ahead.

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