Our most popular feature articles of last year cover an eclectic mix of topics: light rail, the promotion of Canberra as a tourist destination, a car mechanic’s tips on preparing for steep drives on hot days, details on a road trip to Nowra, a discussion about how fortunate we are to live in the capital, the city’s most registered cars and mobile speed cameras among them.
Then Minister for Capital Metro Simon Corbell and Shadow Minister for Transport Alistair Coe each had their say in this February 10 post about whether the ACT Government had a mandate to commence construction of stage one of Canberra’s light rail network prior to the October 2016 election. The article inspired 143 comments over ten pages, providing a clear indication of how divided the city was on this issue.
On August 15, we pulled over on the side of the road near Canberra Airport to capture this shot of ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr posing with the Territory’s newest promotional tool: gigantic vertical billboards at all major entry points to the city, completed just a few weeks before direct international flights were due to commence. Readers either loved them or hated them, with many arguing the money would’ve been better spent elsewhere. “As a Canberran, I am a fan of the signs. They are a lovely reminder that this city is so much more than negative comments on the Internet” vs “About on a par with the not lamented “feel the power” number plates. Totally tacky, bad taste, unnecessary (they are already here) … The sort of thing one expects on the Gold Coast but not in Canberra where we are supposed to have better taste & standards.”
8. Driving to the South Coast? Do this one thing first
As we scrambled to finish everything that needed to be done before our annual South Coast holiday, Rachel Ziv interviewed Nat McGahey from CWC Auto Services about the one thing we should all squeeze in during the weeks leading up to our trek down the Clyde Mountain: getting the car’s cooling systems checked out. “As soon as you start expecting it to drive for two hours straight, up and down one of the hilliest stretches of road this side of the state, you’re asking for trouble,” Nat told Rachel. “Especially if it’s been a while since your last service or you’re trying to tow something!”
7. Are Canberrans spoilt?
Suzanne Kiraly reckons we’re a fortunate lot, us Canberrans, as she explains in this December 5 piece giving some examples from her own day to day life to prove her point. “We have everything in Canberra. Everything!” she writes. Readers agreed, with some arguing that while the capital is a great place to live, it’s not so exciting to visit. “It’s understandable why visitors think it’s boring … much of what you’ve mentioned are perks for people who live here.” Others pointed out that while those who live centrally and have a disposable income do enjoy great quality of life, many who live on the fringes do not.
6. The case of Canberra’s disappearing houses
Serina Huang joined the RiotACT as a food writer, but has proven an astute commentator and reporter on property matters in recent months. This November 29 piece on a lack of detached housing stock in the capital attracted several thousand readers because of detail such as this: “According to Ron Bell, Chief Executive Officer of the Real Estate Institute of ACT (REIACT), for most of the peak spring selling season there were only 2,400 ACT properties listed on Allhomes, compared with 4,000 the same time last year. More recently, this has risen marginally to 2,800. And most of the properties are apartments and townhouses.”
5. A nicer Nerriga Road trip to Nowra
Here’s a pertinent travel piece for January as the city empties, its residents heading down the Kings Highway to the South Coast. Published on April 27 and featuring several photos that will inspire the reader to hit the road, it’s a Paul Costigan post about the journey to Nowra via the much improved Nerriga Road. “There was very little traffic about and it was so much less stressful than using any of the major highways,” Paul writes. “Given that I love trees and the changing countryside – this was one of those drives that delivered pleasure from the drive itself rather than just being a means to get from one place to the next.”
4. Which are Canberra’s most popular cars
Jane Speechley put on her data journalism hat for this November 12 piece on the cars Canberrans drive, crunching numbers she sourced from the ACT Government to work out which ten vehicles are the most popular in the ACT. She learnt that as of July 1, 2016, there were 321,028 vehicles registered in the Territory, including 161,730 passenger sedans, 70,051 station wagons and 25,866 light trucks. “Interestingly, we’re currently hauling 27,830 goods trailers around as well,” Jane wrote. It was a must-read articles, with thousands of you checking to see whether your car made it onto the list, and which other cars we favour in the Territory. Were you surprised to see which cars took out the top spots?
3. A look around Canberra: Gungahlin
Alexandra Craig created a stir with this February 12 post on the suburb of Gungahlin, with discussion about the town planning, architecture and services found in the area extending to 80 comments. There were responses like this one: “Gungahlin town centre is the most depressing place in Canberra. Why must the whole place be painted grey?” and others like this: “So funny to see all the hate that Gunghalin gets on RA, yet the area is always booming with growth. Maybe people are just jealous of the close proximity to Dickson and Civic and EPIC and Mitchell and easy access to Majura park and IKEA and airport and we get to live in our new, modern homes with lock up garage and ensuite as the norm.”
2. A look around Canberra: Fyshwick
Did you know that 38 Canberrans actually reside in Fyshwick? Alexandra Craig did some research for this January 29 suburb profile and learnt that there was a lot more to the industrial precinct than porn. Such as this: “Fyshwick is home to an outlet shopping centre, formerly known as DFO it was renamed semi-recently to COC (Canberra Outlet Centre),” she wrote. “Surely the irony is lost on whoever ticked off on the name change, especially given that COC is located on Iron Knob Street.”
1. A look inside an ACT mobile speed camera van
The most-read feature of the year was this July 25 story in which we opened the door to take a look inside one of the ACT Government’s mobile speed vans and interviewed John Peti, operational supervisor at the ACT’s Traffic Camera Office, about how the vans work. We also published a list of schools around which the vans operate, and a video showing part of our interview with Mr Peti.
This is the penultimate article in our top tens series. The final piece will run tomorrow, and count down the most clicked on RiotACT stories across all categories in 2016.