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What has happened to Canberra’s booners?

By New Yeah - 28 November 2008 78

[First filed: November 27, 2008 @ 10:58]

On a recent thread johnboy answered the question “what on earth is a booner” with:


    much like a westie but wearing an iron maiden tshirt and tighter jeans.

    mostly extinct.

As someone who came of age in Canberra during the heyday of the booner—the 80s and 90s—this got me thinking.

During these glorious years Canberra had heaps of booners, just as Sydney had its westies and Melbourne its bogans.  Essentially they are the same thing, just living in different places.  But now we are asked to believe that the Canberra booner is a dying breed.  Indeed, my learned colleagues on the fiercely parochial RiotAct surprisingly insist on calling these good folk ‘bogans’ instead of the geographically specific ‘booners’.

So, what has happened to Canberra’s booners?

I put forward two possible reasons for the booner’s apparent demise:
1.  It is just a matter of terminology – they are still around but everyone now calls them bogans; and
2.  As johnboy suggests, along with watering your lawn, Raiders Lime flavoured milk and the Northbourne Avenue Summernats Super Cruise, booners are naught but another Canberra cultural relic.  We Canberrans were fortunate to have booners back in the day, but that era is long gone and we now have to make do with the generic bogan.

I say no to both of these hypotheses!  The Canberra booner lives!

Sure, he/she might now wear ill-fitting American sports gear and drive some half-sik ute instead of black Levis, an Anthrax t-shirt and brown desert boots, but he/she is still out there – swearing loudly on the bus, scribbling his/her name on playgrounds, smoking durries at the local shops and riding a BMX in the stormwater drains.  That is, being a booner.

Canberra – am I right here?  Does our fair city still have booners and we have simply lost the ability to identify them as such?

Or if booners are a fading memory from this town’s halcyon pre-self government days, did any of you ever identify as a booner or do you have a claim to booner heritage?


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78 Responses to
What has happened to Canberra’s booners?
AG Canberra 12:07 pm 27 Nov 08

The big difference is today’s booner is actually a CUB – Cashed Up Bogan. The booner thrived in the times of high unemployment and usually graduated from non-attendance at high school directly into the ranks of the dole bludger. Today’s bogans leave school and (pre a couple of months ago) pretty much walk into 30-50k jobs – while still living at home with Mum and her boyfriend.

So yes the booner has evolved with the fortunes of our society.

I wonder if in today’s current economic climate we may see the rise of the booner again?

Jim Jones 12:03 pm 27 Nov 08

Ah man, I wouldn’t classify the skegs as emos. That’s really harsh. I always liked the skegs.

djk 11:55 am 27 Nov 08

Jim Jones said :

What I wanna know is: where did all the skegs go?

wow havent heard term that in a while.
obviously skegs now fall under the broader umbrella of Emos.

Mrshmellowman 11:54 am 27 Nov 08

Oh the days of flannelette shirts, tight jeans, mullets and denim jackets with a back patch of a garish metal band! I am a sentimental old fool who misses the days when you knew who was who in this town simply by their look.

Now everyone seems to be in tracksuits, which back in the day, was the exclusive domain of the sporto’s – those who were associated with some sort of sports program like the AIS or the little brother ACTAS.

Granny 11:53 am 27 Nov 08

I think I will have to reject Victorian linguistic imperialism also!

But will the bogans relate to the booner term? Will they own it? Or will they just stare at me blankly like I should get with the 21st century?

This is the question!
Which one?
Take your pick.


justbands 11:41 am 27 Nov 08

I don’t mind the generic term bogan. It works well, eg. “Oh the boganity!”

p1 11:38 am 27 Nov 08

I think perhaps the true answer is a mix. Some have moved to Queenbo (or Charnwood), grown a mullet, and become a bogan. Others wear all white loose fitting eminem branded sports clothing (and puffy Jackets) and are now a kind of Homeboy/wanker hybrid.

New Yeah 11:37 am 27 Nov 08

It seems to me that while bogans were just the same as booners in the 80s, bogans have somehow managed to evolve and cannibalize other yob groups – as Granny says, boganry evolution. Thus we now have a nationwide group known as bogans, with booners and westies on the periphery.

This upsets me a bit, as much as I can get upset by trifles. Canberrans often lament their lack of character and I think booners provide a good dose of that.

So just like bogans have moved into the 21st century, I would like to see Canberrans be flexible with their definition of booner and refer to anyone that resembles a bogan (or a yob or chigger or westie) by the local term – booner. Reject Victorian linguistic imperialism.

As for skegs, I miss that term too.

poptop 11:30 am 27 Nov 08

I always thought the bevans, booners, bogans, chiggers, etc, etc, were geographic subspecies of the yob.

Jim Jones 11:23 am 27 Nov 08

What I wanna know is: where did all the skegs go?

Jim Jones 11:18 am 27 Nov 08

Wouldn’t you say that the reason for the distinction between bogan and booner is because:

– back in the day, the word that was used was booner
– back in the day, booner’s wore tight black jeans, metal tees, desert boots, had mullets, etc.

– nowadays, the word that is commonly used is bogan
– bogans have different ‘cultural signifiers’ (i.e. wear parliament, often have poorly coloured fauxhawks, etc.)

So it’s not so much as them being different things, it’s that the name and the trappings have changed. The underlying socio-economics are the same, but the flannel shirts have disappeared.

ant 11:18 am 27 Nov 08

They were called Boons in my day. I wonder if Bogans are basically Boons with more cash? Noisier, out in public more, with more noisy toys, cashed-up and spreading themselves into hitherto boon/bogan-free areas?

Granny 11:17 am 27 Nov 08

I voted for the theory of boganry evolution.

Thumper 11:15 am 27 Nov 08

I think they’ve evolved into bogans, but not all. Some these days appear to be a watered down version of a bogan.

Skidd Marx 11:12 am 27 Nov 08

They’re still here but they’re more crafty these days and also have fatter wallets. They can be seen shopping at Parliament and drinking at the Mawson Club. Personally I much prefer the old booners. At least they knew their place.

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