Canberra, the city people forgot.

Last week, on February 1 to be precise, I accompanied CCQC to Canberra. He had a Silks’ dinner and meeting to attend. I had nothing to attend, so spent my time getting lost. I have no sense of direction at the best of times. I am one of those people who step out of my hotel and turn left when I should turn right. I walk south for miles, thinking I am walking north. The only city in the world where I can get my bearings is Paris and I do not know why this is. I get lost in New York. Don’t ask. So I was heartened to discover that even people who live in Canberra get lost because it is a town with no people.

Well, it has people – about 360,000 of them, roughly the same as Wellington – but very spread out so you never see them. And it’s surprising how disorientating it is to walk around without seeing people. It’s spooky. It’s like there was a siege and you’re the last to know about it. On the Monday when CCQC was at his meetings I tried to find the High Court, gave up, and walked into town. There is some lovely public architecture, and I took some photos:

I walked over the bridge – no people.

I looked back towards Parliament Buildings – no people.

I wandered through the park and saw some huge storks. Perhaps they are looking for babies with which to populate this place?

The Park Hyatt, at which we stayed, is indeed a lovely hotel, built in the style of Frank Lloyd Wright. If you ever go to Canberra, I highly recommend it, but it is quite a distance from everything, but then so are all the facilities because Canberra is very spread out.

On Tuesday, after the black tie dinner (at which I sat next to the rudest man I’ve ever encountered in my entire life, and that’s saying something, one Senator Brandis, who represents the Liberal Party from Queensland), we went for a walk. This was one of the motorways around Parliament at mid-morning when you’d expect it to be extremely busy:

Parliament buildings are lovely, and beautifully laid out. A bunch of farmers were protesting against mining on the front lawn, but since they were speaking serious Strine, I couldn’t really understand what they were on about. This last shot’s taken from the terrace at Parliament’s cafe, looking down across the sweeping lawns past Old Parliament House, towards the War Memorial and Anzac Parade. If you look in the bottom right hand corner, you will notice a rare sighting of people.

If you do not like people, Canberra is the place for you.


2 thoughts on “Canberra, the city people forgot.

  1. When I lived in Sydney in the early 80s, I knew an American who, like many of his countrymen, hated the city’s relative lack of motorways, and the clogged-up traffic. He had an American friend who would sometimes go to Canberra just so he could drive around and around that city’s uncluttered motorways.

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