"Where is the Soul?" Canberra Favorite Tip by Kakapo2

Canberra Favorites: 78 reviews and 89 photos

Favorite thing: Discussions about love and hate in Canberra ;-)

I had an interesting discussion with George (VT member tiabunna) who did not like me calling Canberra a boring place.

Probably the way I use the word "boring" sometimes does not always make a hundred per cent clear what I mean, and sometimes leads people who read it to the conclusion Canberra would be a city with no interesting places of interest...

This is not what I mean with "boring".

Of course, a city with such delights as all those fantastic museums, the lake, and this great hinterland cannot be really boring to the bone. Boring for me was the lack of atmosphere in the city centre. Apart from this little square where you could sit outside for dinner there was nothing to observe. You know, watching people, gossiping about them, street musicians, little markets, the feeling of easy living.

There is a big discrepancy between locals and visitors appreciating a place. Whereas locals love the quiet life and the wide spaces, visitors want to feel something and not just hurry from museum to museum. And this feeling has nothing to do with nightlife, parties etc. Just get a feeling for how people live and act in a certain place.

If I compare Canberra to Christchurch (New Zealand) which has about the same size and is also a very widespread city... I live outside, in lazy Lyttelton, and often I go to the city centre, take a seat on a bench on Cathedral Square, and just watch people passing, or sit in the Rose Garden of the Botanic Garden, read a book and relax, and watch people and birds. I would not know where to do this in Canberra.

A problem in Canberra might be that the distances between visitor attractions are rather large, and you do not just stroll from A to B but drive. This already takes "life" from the streets.

If I lived there I would appreciate the calm and the space - but I think there are other places that have both.

George also mentioned that some of the buildings which I found horrible were award-winning architecture.

I know, this is a global problem. And of course, the juries always consist of other architects who justify their own horrors by awarding colleagues who have committed similar crimes ;-) I mistook one of those buildings for a parking building... It is a pity that most of Canberra was built in the same wrong era. (BTW Also Christchurch has some few such concrete blocks but there they were built this way because of the lack of money, not because it was the architectural fashion of the day.)

Review Helpfulness: 2.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Written Apr 7, 2008
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Kakapo2

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