Monday, August 20, 2007

A Brief History of Canberra

I've had the Prime Possum theme stuck in my head for the past week. It's been the greatest seven days of my life.

Many people reading this blog (and yes, I can see the irony of saying "many people" and "this blog" in the same sentence) will probably be wanting more information on the wonderful land of Canberra, since they've probably already packed their eskimo jackets in anticipation to move here. Note to those people: Bring pants as well.

Canberra is one of the most ancient cities in the world. It was founded around 1 billion BC by Kevin H. Canberra, a traveller from Antarctica who was sick of the heat and humidity of his own country. Impressed with the layout of the land, Kevin began 'the new world' by building a mall at one end of the city limits, and houses at the other end. This meant that you could sit back and admire the landscape for the duration of your travelling time, which was around 6 weeks, as the early inhabitants of Canberra were fish, and they hadn't evolved legs yet. It didn't take long for that to happen though, as Canberra's first drought struck the year after Kevin laid the first stone. Funnily enough, that drought is still going, so it shouldn't take long before we grow wings. Awesome.

Kevin's legacy as Captain of Canberra was abrupty ended when he was attacked by a rogue shopping trolley that had escaped the blue-green algae from Lake Gininderra. Fingers were pointed at UC students, other fingers at patrons of Sails (now The Lighthouse). In the end, it was realised that they were the same people. Their punishment was to be subjected to poor university residential dwellings and the worst McDonalds drive-thru ever made. It is still a sentence that is being served today.

The next leader of the Berra was Reginald War-Memorial, whose dream was to create a building so beautiful, so unique and with such emotional power that it would be talked about for generations to come, and stand as a momument to the struggles and hardships of Australian history. And so he began work on Telstra tower.

The Telstra Tower was completed in 1682, and still stands to this day as one of Canberra's most recognisable landmarks. However, this was not always the way. The Tower created a rift between the citizens of Canberra who saw this as a massive waste of money, seeing as telecommunications were still a few hundred years away.
The next Lord of Canberra was Elmer G. Kingsley, an explorer from Cooma. He saw the Tower and kept walking north, and lo! Welcome to Canberra. Kingsley is known in the tomes of history as the laziest of all explorers, as that was about as far as he ever went. Next time you're driving around Canberra, wondering which way is north, just look for the Tower, and think of Kingsley. It may not happen for a while, but then again, it might. I'm not a fucking mind-reader here people, I'm just a die-hard historian. Kingsley later set up a franchise to sell fast food to the people of Canberra, the likes of which can still be found at RJs food wagon in Woden.

This is taking way too long and I'm losing interest (so I can't imagine how you're feeling right now), so we'll skip forward a millenium or so and look at Canberra today.

2007's Canberra is the busiest city in the world, with a population of around 70 billion people. Its major exports are Persian rugs, refresher towels and ceramic figurines of old people having sex. Great works of art are found on the outside walls of prominent buildings, park benches are adorned with poetry (Pete craves cock, according to the work of one unknown writer in Glebe Park) and the residential architecture issues constant reminders of the 1970s and 80s. If Mission Brown is your favourite colour, then you're in luck - 96% of houses are 83% brown, and there is a 100% chance that this is not going to change anytime soon.
Tourism is also a huge part of the Canberran economy, with around a squillion people per year entering Ngunnawal country to catch a glimpse of the big fountain in the middle of Lake Burley Griffin, or to have their photos taken outside the Woden cinemas. With pubs, clubs and trendy restaurants as far as the eye can see (the shorter-sighted you are, the better), young and old will mingle seamlessly under the watchful eye of the sometimes-working-sometimes-not streetlights.
Traveller's tip: If you find yourself lost in the labyrinth of the city centre, feel free to approach any local Canberran and ask for directions. The most it will cost you is $3 in change (for a sandwich or a bus ride home, apparently) or two cigarettes.
Pollution has been called a problem, with smoke often thick in the air on busier streets. This is quite easily countered by winding up your window while the windscreen washing lepers drool and flick ash on the side of your car. For those without cars, the public transport system is second to none, and many Canberrans have 'discovered the pluses of buses', including many escaped mental patients, unemployed drug addicts and fourteen year-old mothers of three, who will always give you the option of either taking one of her children away, or the opportunity to give her another one. Now THAT is Canberran hospitality!

The only downside of coming to Canberra is leaving. As we Canberrans say, "Come back soon!" (but not if you're from Sydney. You guys can go get fucked.)

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