Wednesday, 26 November 2014

The Red Haired Amazona visits The Imperial City and the Batman Rocket

Oh Canberra, how I love you. I have just returned from a weekend jaunt to the Imperial City for family stuff. Good family stuff though.

I am proud to declare I was a resident of the quiet but endearing Imperial City from birth. It's a small city. Sydneysiders and Melbournians love to scoff at our provincial capital but they see only the political reports on the news from Parliament House. They may have passed through on a weekend and noted the almost empty streets, laughed at our complaints about the 15 minute peak hour drag after work. But they never stayed long enough to tap into Canberra's heart, it's sense of community spirit.

It's small enough that on any given day you can be in any part of town and bump into someone you know. Or even be familiar enough with the faces to recognise someone. You might not know them but they are what we'd call A Canberra Face.  Such a thing took place at the Woolies supermarket in the Belconnen Mall. There was this check out chick who served us. I recognised her instantly. I don't know her personally, but she has worked there for over 15 years.  Bless her soul, she had the balls to ask if sonofagun No.2 was my grandson. Because he's a little 'dark' she said. She's one of those Canberra Faces and I also knew from years ago, she's a delightful thing who has always been prone to blisteringly tactless but innocent comments, so I smiled sweetly, feeling no offence and almost replied that I had watched as they sliced open my engorged belly and ripped his steaming carcass from me, but simply said, "Oh no, he's my son."  She then acknowledged me as A Canberra Face. "I haven't seen you for a while," she said. And we smiled and said our goodbyes as she handed over my change.

The city used to be a green little paradise. Beautiful landscaped gardens throughout the city in the public spaces, mown nature strips, iconic buildings lining Lake Burley Griffin and my favourite, Telstra Tower, formerly known as Telecom Tower, known by Sonofagun No. 2 as The Batman Rocket.

Now it's a desiccated shell of it's former self.  The iconic buildings are still iconic but my uneducated guess is the drought which swept the nation several years ago sapped the green out of Canberra and it has struggled to recover ever since.

Driving through Canberra makes me feel like drenching myself in Oil of Olay and knocking back several Powerades.  Everything is brown. Lawns almost don't exist anymore. They have been replaced by some sort of sparse, brown weed.  The city's Govie lawnmowing guys must have had their budget severely cut because they ain't cutting no grass! 

I am being hugely judgemental. I'm lucky. I have moved to a gorgeous little suburb in the south west of Melbourne which gets a reasonably regular rainfall, and even if it browns out in summer, parklands, nature strips and lawns are tended. Maybe there's a penalty handed out by local councils if you don't mow, not sure.

Canberrans love Canberra. Unless they don't have kids and are under 30. Then they're bored shitless and can hardly wait to move to Sydney or Melbourne.  Canberra is fairly easy to get around, although I did note a slight lack of adequate signage which I sorely needed. There have been a few road changes since I left 4 years ago, so my poor passengers had to put up with a few choice Rally Car steering maneuvers as I would remark suddenly, "Oh crap, we're supposed to turn left! When did they put THAT there!?!"   It's safe and quiet. Well quietish. Turns out some druggos have moved into our old house and have had the Fuzz around a few times.  Last year when visiting my gorgeous artist friend who lives a few doors down, I took the opportunity for a STICKY BEAK.

There is a laneway on one side of my old house. And a big gap in the fence. So I shamelessly bent over and had a good ole perve into my old backyard. I discovered I left one of my big ceramic planters behind. And they had planted something in it! I shan't say what it was, needless to say Cheech and Chong would have made themselves right at home.

So back to Canberra. Canberra why? Why aren't CityScape mowing your parks?  Why does the whole city look like Victa ran off with the maid? I love you and I'm sad at you.

Alright. My whinge is over. Or is it?

On the plus side we had the best of fun visiting The Batman Rocket (aka Telstra Tower).

But here's another question for you Canberra:  The Telstra Tower is the most prominent silhouette on the city skyline. It sits proudly smack back in the centre of town (almost. a little bit northish) and every touristy thingo you find anywhere has some sort of representation of it. But when you enter, the interior has been rarely updated since it was built in the late 1970s.

Not a bad looking fella! Taken on my Samsung s5 phone.

When you enter and pay a pretty cheap entry charge, you ascend to the viewing gallery via a dinky little elevator and come out to a pebblecrete lined interior where you can walk around with a 360 degree view of the city. It's a sight I never grow tired of. What I am tired of is the same expensive little coffee shop selling over priced bad tasting cappuccinos and sweet FA to buy in the tourist shop.

The Sonofaguns survey the Imperial City from the 2nd level outside viewing platform of the Batman Rocket.

Come on Batman Rocket! Why are you so neglected? You are awesome. Every Canberran child has their own imagination fueled theory about what you REALLY are. For my sonofagun No.2 you are the Batman Rocket. For others, you're a spaceship or a castle.  The little tourist shop used to sell all the cool pieces of dinky tourist crap people love to hate, and some cute stuff locals would specifically go up to the Tower to buy. I used to buy a cute little silver plated Tower keyring. Every few years it would break and it would be a great excuse to visit the Tower and buy another. But 3 years ago they replaced those cute little keyrings with a long ugly Picasso version that was almost as long as my hand. Now all such dooverlackeys have been removed from sale. You can buy a cheap unattractive plastic pen. Or a postcard. Or a plastic ruler. You get the picture.  I do like my kitschy tourist crap. But not that crappy.
But please don't let my rant put you off visiting. It is pretty dang cool. At night it is usually lit up with coloured spotlights. Impressive. I did try taking a photo with my Samsung s5 phone, but as amazing as the camera is, it's crap at night photos so I borrowed someone else's photo just to show you it's coolness:
I stole this off some site on the interwebs. And in the spirit of non- stealing, here's the original link.

We did some family and friend visiting, we perved at how Braddon has changed to a micro Collingwood, and had a speed visit to the Australian War Memorial.  I was able to have a hug and a cup of tea with BFF at the cafe in the long established, iconic Rodney's nursery in Piallago and we let all our little & big monsters run wild at the nursery's playground while we soaked up the tea and atmosphere.

Guys, I apologise for the long, tourist style blog/ rant but there it is.
And fellow Canberrans. I say these ranty things not to be putting the hate on Canberra. I've said it before and I'll say it again. I love Canberra. I'll be an Imperial Citizen until my dying day. You should be the shining jewel in Australia's crown. When Stevie Jacobs is reading the Today Show weather in the morning, he should start with Canberra, instead of forgetting to mention it half the time. 

xox
Louise

The Red Haired Amazona



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