24 April 2024

What you think about Gungahlin, in no uncertain terms

| Sally Hopman
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Old fashioned postcard saying Gungahlin

Greetings from the postcard-perfect Gungahlin. This artwork was part of an online exhibition organised by Gungahlin Arts in 2020, inviting locals to celebrate where they lived. Photo: File.

Dear reader, we know there are important issues out there and, as whip-smart as you are, you tell us what you think about them, regularly.

So when we put the call-out asking what you thought Gungahlin needed, you weren’t shy. In fact you were quite rude.

We thought better roads, schools and a hospital would top your list, but no. It was all about the absence of some bloke called Mario, a cinema, and better chips.

What happened to Mario? you asked, referring to that cardboard cut-out of the cartoon cult hero taken from Gungahlin Drive. He surfaced in 2020 but hasn’t been seen since, if you discount urban myths of him sending postcards of himself sunbaking somewhere else during Canberra winters. He was last seen atop a concrete air-pipe – so it’s hardly surprising that he did a runner.

Our readers also fried hard to get a certain chip shop to set up in Gungahlin – no names, no pack krill, although the name can be linked by adjectives to royalty. It apparently has the best chips. Ever. Sounds a bit fishy though.

READ ALSO Gungahlin Community Centre project at business end with construction tender

Perhaps the loudest call from you, dear reader, was “where is the cinema we were promised?”.

Don’t hold your breath folks, your very much older, distant relative across the border has been waiting for one since Queanbeyan was barely a princess. Anyway, don’t most new houses now come with television screens that are so big you no longer need walls?

Sure, it’s not so much fun throwing jaffas at the screen when you have to clean it up yourself later, but at least you don’t have far to go home.

People also wanted to know who broke the head off the turtle statue in Forde, what happened to the frog statue near the pelicans at Amaroo – “I need answers” the reader demanded, and, if it comes down to it, where’s the pelican?

If it’s wildlife you’re after, we suggest you pack a lunch and head out to Throsby and one of our national capital’s greatest natural achievements, Mulligans Flat, where apart from the fact it is the largest single grassy woodland conservation area, it’s really easy to find because all the streets around it are named after things you find in there – like Quokka, Bettong, Brushtail and Cricket Streets. Barramundi Street is perhaps a bit of a stretch, literally, while Horse Park Drive, is a little on the trot.

READ ALSO ‘Testing times’ ahead for northside frontline personnel, Gungahlin JESC almost ready to be re-opened

As the newcomer on the suburban block, Gungahlin has its critics, many of whom have never actually been there but are sure they wouldn’t like it anyway – they like to follow the crowd … to Manuka.

Possibly some of these folk may be responsible for such comments as: “Where is the underground asbestos dump at Gungahlin?”, “Why are the blocks so small?”, “Who designed it?” – and someone who has clearly made their mark(s) when it comes to punctuation, “Who planned the area !!!!! Was it done at a session at the pub ???”.

Before Gungahlin folk take up arms in a not-so-civil war against the critics, remember that all that’s old becomes new again. One of the critics asked when the town was going to get a post office that “wasn’t piddly”.

If you go back a lifetime or two, Gungahlin, or “Goongarline” as one Edward Crace named it in 1862, actually started its European life with a post office store.

But we prefer the story that goes back even further, like a few thousand years, when, legend has it, a First Nations woman gave voice to a word that sounded not unlike “Gungahlin” – a word that meant “wonderful”.

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A depressing bucket of s#*t

Gungahlinise – a word that means bland, ugly, shoddy, congested, apartmentalised, densified and built to cram in an many people as possible while extracting the highest prices. As in, the ACT government plans to gungahlinise the green spaces of Curtin.

GrumpyGrandpa7:53 pm 28 Apr 24

I’m not from Gunners, but
I’ve heard people complain about the narrow street and small house blocks, but to me the biggest difference is that there is no mega-mall like the Canberra Centre or a Westfield, but a number of smaller complexes, which probably means you’re moving the car a fair bit.

More recently, I’ve visited Gunners by LR. The first thing you experience is a conga-line of apartment blocks. Sadly, I don’t think they will age well.

Early in the planning process the then Gungahlin Development Authority surveyed its nascent populace on the subject of a shopping mall who rejected it in favour of a more traditional strip design. Community consultation was all the rage at the time, with predictably unpredictable consequences.

There is nothing wrong with Gugahlin that a large team of D16 bulldozers couldn’t fix. And where are the major government department offices that every town centre deserves?

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