Reason 4 to #LikeCanberra – Transience

by The Editor

number four

Over the last 96 days we have been developing a list of things we like about our little town. The philosophy is simple – it’s those moments of clarity when, doing something routine, you suddenly gain an awareness and an appreciation of your surrounds. We’ve attempted to refrain from commercial enterprises and individuals; rather, the list was intended as a loose examination of the elements that give our city its character.

Now, it’s time for Number 4.


Canberra – or Kamberra as the Ngambri people of the region are claimed to have said – has a historical record of around 21,000 years of human habitation.  That appears to make our celebration this weekend somewhat insignificant, however goes some way to explaining why we are here and the historical importance of this ‘Meeting Place’.

And a meeting place it was, rumoured to have been the site of corroborees for the Ngambri who were following the seasonal migrations of the Bogong moths.  These moths still descend upon the Parliamentary Triangle each summer, and are some of the more notable annual visitors to our town.

Bogong Moth

For those that live in the three-storey apartment blocks that permeate the inner suburbs, transience is a matter of course.  So many of these flats are occupied by recently arrived or short-term employees, typically new members of the Australian Public Service.  Pop in to any bar or pub and you are likely to find a farewell party, or another gathering to welcome a recent import.  Surely in Canberra an entire sausage roll industry exists surviving solely on APS morning teas marking the same.

To come and go through this ancient meeting place is now an international event.  Flags along the southern shore of Lake Burley Griffin highlight the nations who have permanent diplomatic representations in suburbs like Yarralumla, Red Hill and O’Malley.  Traffic often slows to a crawl when visiting dignitaries make their way from the airport to Parliament House.  On particularly high-profile visits, jets soar overhead all day and night to protect the most significant interloper.

King O'Malley

Werrina, Wannon and Wright may not be immediately recognised as regions in Australia, however these Eastern seaboard electorates represent the primary reason for Canberra’s existence. For seventeen weeks a year, Members of Parliament make their way to the Nation’s Capital to debate the issues of the day.  However, it is not only these 150 MPs that shape the city.  There are staffers, journos, lobbyists and advisors that add a verve and energy to the city, filling bars, restaurants and taxis.  Only in Canberra are hotel rooms cheaper on the weekend than a Wednesday.

Old House of Representatives

Both sport and education provide an energetic dynamic for the city through the Australian National University, the University of Canberra and the Australian Institute of Sport.   These institutions attract the best, brightest, fittest and most skilful to town.  Future lawyers, artists and gold medal winners may spend only a few fleeting years here while honing their skills, however their time In Canberra helps to weave the local fabric.

As always, Canberra will remain an attractive stopover for the transient traveller.  For this we should be grateful.  The injection of energy, idea and experience prevents us from becoming an isolated highland kingdom. Conversely, Canberra remains vibrant despite the ignorance of external commentators.  Only by spending some time in Canberra can you come to know how truly international this city is.