Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Canberra by any other name

Crop circles outside Parliament House prove that aliens have a great taste in cities, and their lasers can burn more than wheat fields. Treat them nicely.


The land of Canberra is a wonderful place, full of roundabouts and broken streetlights and stormwater drains. We have a large board where people are encouraged to stick their old chewing gum, a penchant for Christmas lights the whole year round and a place called the Beaver Galleries, which was quite good, but not exactly what I was looking for. I also went to the Leisure Centre to sit around and play Nintendo, but they kept making me run on treadmills. People should be more careful about what they name their businesses.

Canberra has its fair share of attractions that defy their very definition; for example, the Canberra Museum and Gallery is probably the world’s greatest example of a four-wall collection that have been sparsely decorated with screen prints of flowers and a five-year old’s drawing of a fire engine. It also boasts a single vase that came from Copperart (and is used to hold umbrellas) and a stairwell that leads to an upstairs loft that specialises in minimalist d├ęcor and dust. Whether it qualifies as either a museum or gallery is open for debate. I hope that if it ever comes down to a debate, that I'm on the 'opposed' side. I'd also like to be second speaker, but I might be getting ahead of myself.
Other 'interesting interpretations' of Canberra attractions are the National Dinosaur Museum which tries to hide the fact that it has no fossils, models or dinosaur bones by turning the lights off ; and the Shepherds Lookout walking trail does not involve a single shepherd. Add to these the contradictions that are Gold Creek Village, which contains neither gold, nor a creek, nor a village. I mean sure, it has a pub and a few shops and a pub and stuff like a pub… oh wait. Now I get the gold creek part of it. Yeah? Did you see what I did there? I made a pee joke.

Federation Square is a part of the aforementioned Village of the Golden Creek, yet is quite circular in shape. I took my two-year old daughter there and said to her, “This is Federation Square,” and she replied, “It’s a fucking circle, man.” She’s got a mouth on her, for a non-existent baby. Anyway, she hates the place as well, and she gets lost whenever she has to go there. Like father like daughter, huh? If only she got her mother’s sense of direction; she’s like a fighter pilot or a private detective or a pigeon or something cool.

On the other side of the spectrum are the great places of Canberra which scream what they are, what they do and where they’re located to anyone with enough literacy to read the sign above the door. Places like Hyper Dome shopping centre, which is recognisable by its large dome; or it would be if you were flying over the top of it. At ground level, as is the more traditional method of transport in Canberra, it’s more recognisable by the single teenage mothers who hang out at the bus interchange spitting at people. But in a marketing decision applauded by all, the Spitting Teenage Mothers Shopping Centre will be a name resigned to the “what could have been” dream pile.

Parliament House was built to take over the old Parliament House, which is now known as Old Parliament House. If they ever make a newer Parliament House, we’re all fucked.

The Canberra Glasshouse is exactly what it sounds like; a place that deals in glass things. It’s super tops if you’re looking to buy that special something for that special someone, as long as they like things made out of glass, and as long as those things aren’t glasses, vases or anything useful. So… pendants and beads and paperweights. But hey, if glass-blowing is your thing, why not enrol in a glass-blowing demonstration and create your own unique glass decoration? For an extra million dollars, you’ll be able to stand about three steps closer than the rest of Canberra to see a couple of professional glass-blowers blow their glass and tell you what they’re doing. But you’ll have your very own souvenir to take home afterwards, as long as you pay extra for it.

While you’re in the area, why not stop in at the Old Bus Depot markets, which are fantastic, as long as you’re not looking to buy an Old Bus Depot. Man was my face red. Lucky I got outbid on my collection of old buses on eBay; I have no idea what I'd do without a depot to keep them in.

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