While the Big Skiing Kangaroo is still under construction (but to be honest, not much else has been done, other than have the sign put up) Canberra does appear to be lacking in the architecture that stands out, that defines a city. New York has the Empire State Building, Paris with its Eiffel Tower, Barcelona with Gaudi. Canberra, the greatest city in the world, has a selection to appeal to each and every one of its inhabitants.
The ABC Obelisk. Located in the heart of the city, driving along Northbourne Avenue is now even more of a treat. It’s always fun to be stuck at the same set of traffic lights for three or four changes, but if you’re lucky and find yourself within sight of the ABC Building, you have the added bonuses of (a) knowing exactly how long you’ve been sitting there; and (b) knowing just how cold it is outside. So when you get to wherever it is that you’re going (and if you’re me, you’ll be late), someone will say, “Phroar. How cold is it?” And even though you know they’re making more of a statement than asking a question, you can reply with “well, at 8:27 it was 2 degrees.” Conversation starter or stopper? You be the judge.
Civic Sheep. Just outside Subway, near the Carousel of Justice (and cans of Coke for $1, bargain) there's a statue of two sheep. One is sitting on a throne, legs splayed like Paris Hilton (but less crying). The other is looking at the Paris sheep, slightly bemused, like Lindsay Lohan. I’m pretty sure there’s a plaque describing what is actually going on with them, but it’s quite small and at the bottom of the Lindsay Lohan sheep, and I have a restraining order, so I can’t get close enough to read it. These sheep provide endless hours of amusement for drunken idiots wandering Civic at night, and unless you’ve had your photo taken with your crotch pressed up against Paris sheep, you can’t really say you’ve experienced Canberra. The Blarney Stone can kiss my Canberran arse, the sheep is where it’s at.
The Homeworld Lantern. Shining out from the depths of Tuggeranong like the Lighthouse of Alexandria, this beacon reminds everyone of where they are – especially handy if you’ve just come out of Wanniassa or Chisholm or another confusing, crazy suburb that lives down there, and your choices are to turn left or right – one will take you down to Tharwa or Mittagong or some bumfuck nowhere place, and the other will put you back onto the Parkway. Just stop, and look around. High above the treeline, glowing like the star that led the Wise Men to baby Jesus, is the Homeworld Lantern. Get your bearings and carry on, soldier. Is also handy if you’re in Tuggers and looking for KFC.
In ancient Canberran mythology, the Homeworld Lantern was created from the eye of Sharon, the fifteen year old Tuggeranong goddess of fertility and Centrelink. According to the classic poem “4 eva”, which was written on the underpass wall on Boddington Crescent in Kambah, Sharon and Tracee (the goddess of hydroponic plant growth) were locked in an epic battle over who pashed Wayne (the semi-deity of black jeans) first. Tracee ripped out Sharon’s eye and threw it into Lake Tuggeranong, which then spewed it back out and into the sky. Sharon, one-eyed and bloody, still managed to defeat Tracee by luring her onto Wheeler Crescent, where she became stuck in the Wheeler/Sternberg loop, and no-one ever heard from her again. For years afterwards, people entering Wanniassa said they entered it with a full pack of cigarettes, and when they left, they were all gone.
The Parkway Datto. The sight of a broken down car on the Tuggeranong Parkway is not a rare one. But there is one car that has become a part of Canberra’s folklore over several years – the Parkway Datto. The Parkway Datto (or PD, for those in the know) has the mystical ability to appear in a slightly different position along the stretch of road that joins Tuggeranong to Belconnen to each person who views it. So too, does the car lose another piece of itself. First the hubcaps are gone, then the wheels get stolen, then the back window is smashed, the front windscreen disappears, then the mirrors, bonnet, the steering wheel. All gone. But yet, the PD never completely disappears. A mystery made by man, but beyond our comprehension.