If I was to ask you to put the words: cool; hot; rad; hipster and Canberra into a few sentences I would forgive you for thinking this was a trick. Unless that is, you live in Canberra, or have been there at any stage in the last 24 months. In that case, you have no excuse but to know it: Canberra is cool. I am talking rad Graff, hipster barista’s (slightly less annoying than Melbourne’s) and hot design. Not everywhere, let us not get excited, we call it Cuntberra for a reason. However, Braddon, Civic, and New Acton are up there with anywhere new and ace that I have been.
This post all started with The Outsiders – yes the unbelievably good unauthorized event last weekend. I had thought I was not going to make it because of a commitment to be in “fucking Canberra”. Oops, it turns out when you share that on Facebook you tend to piss Canberrians off. If I had not seen it for myself I would have pitied their misguided patriotic pride in their dull city.
Well I made it to The Outsiders, and made it up to Canberra. Seven days meant five nights of exploration, and over a weekend, some serious tourism and trawling.
I did think hard about why I doubted Canberra. After all, I had been thrilled to discover Civil and more in Lyneham way back when (see my post This Is Canberra) . Yet still I had that guilt you get for picking on the dork and then finding out they are really really nice.
The obvious conclusion I drew about this Canberra/Cuntberra issue was that it is full of public servants, it has weird bus stops and the housing is ugly (*some* of it). The old housing that is. The new architecture is out of this world. It shits on Melbourne.
I also thought hard about why it can be this cool now, after being so uncool for so long. It has always had sensational art, and recently, the Portrait Gallery - but it is no Hobart. It has the Arboretum and I reckon that is sweet - but it is no Kings Park.
I was at Lonsdale St Roasters when I got it. It is full of really smart people with multiple degrees and exciting jobs like satellite mapping. It is full of people who have been elsewhere and are from elsewhere. It doesn’t have a heap of Herald Sun readers. In short, it is the perfect primordial swamp from which an edgy entrepreneur can create those institutions that grow and together form a (sub) culture. So do not go thinking it is a stagnant festering pool with green algae and a foul smell, as tempting as that is. Canberra is NOT the Ginger of Australia, teased and taunted by the rest of us. It is an evolving beast and the process, or its rise to cool, is happening very quickly.
If you are not convinced, trust me I am not alone in discovering this. Even the New York Times has gotten in on it. If that doesn't convince you then check these blogs out: Hip, Cool and it’s called Civic
PS: Do visit The Parlour (the Parlour Wine Room) but under no circumstances should you EVER end up at one of the many dingy nightclubs elsewhere in the city…It is sad, you will be transported back to 1994 and will wake up with a head ache full of regret. That’s what they tell me anyway. Speaking of such a night, to my little baby Gay, if you are reading this, please do come to Melbourne, your people need you.