This post is long overdue, so forgive me.
Canberra has been good to us. So good that it’s hard to think about leaving. The city has become trendier – coffee shops for example, once limited to Lonsdale St Roasters, are now found in abundance. Restaurants are popping up faster than our schedules (and our wallets) will allow us to visit them. Events are so on so often now that people stay in town instead of abandoning ship for the weekend – in the last few weeks alone there was the book fair, the multicultural festival, Enlighten and the night noodle markets, just to name a few. And if there’s nothing on, several star wineries are but a thirty minute drive away. Yes, Canberra, despite my initial misgivings, I’ve fallen in love with you.
I don’t remember exactly when it happened but there was a moment when I was in a car going over the Bolte Bridge in Melbourne, watching the sun bounce off the buildings on the city skyline – beautiful as it was, it didn’t feel like home. It took me at least four years to feel at home in the bustling Melbourne city, and even then I barely ventured outside of the inner city, it took me maybe, two years at most, to identify as Canberran.
It creeps up on you. The first time you’ll catch yourself defending this great city, ‘we do have good restaurants here!’ Your friend will look sideways at you, roll their eyes and say ‘I didn’t realise you were so into Canberra.’ And you will realise in that moment, that you are not just a temporary Canberran; that you don’t just live in Canberra for now, under sufferance, eagerly awaiting a chance to leave. It’s a strange feeling the first time – ‘why did I say that?’ you’ll wonder. Now my friends will think I’m some small town Canberra girl, instead of a big city Melbourne/Sydney girl. But, then again, I do like it here.
The next time you go back to Melbourne, or Sydney or wherever it is that was home before Canberra, you’ll start to ask yourself… Why are there so many people here – don’t they have to go to work? Why is everything so far away? How come it takes so long to get to the city? People pay this much for parking? And then, the realisation that you’ve gotten used to life in the bush capital that is Canberra. What’s not to like, anyway. Within the city, you can walk up Mount Ainslie and see rabbits, kangaroos and lots of other wildlife. All your friends live within a 10 minute radius – that means that you can either stumble home after dinner parties, or do the traditional Canberra thing – car pool to dinner, cab home and then get your neighbour (who was incidentally also invited to dinner) to drive you to pick up your car.
There is one caveat though. Canberra is better with friends. We’re a pretty friendly bunch though, so go out, meet new people. Someone once complained to me that Canberrans don’t want to mix with new people. It’s not so much that as the fact that we’re busy with stuff we already have on, so you need to take the lead and organise stuff, then invite us along. We’ll reciprocate.
I’ve been so lucky – I am sure that the friends we’ve met here will be our friends for life. So there you have it, Canberra is cool. It’s very liveable. It sucks you in without you even realising it. We’ll be back but in the meantime, it’s over and out for the Canberra Chronicles, and time to start learning about Colombo.
I’m of the opinion that if you can find food and friends, you’ll have a great time anywhere in the world. It’s a funny thing, much like Canberra, people have expressed their reservations to us about moving to Colombo. And although I’m treating this move like a big adventure, it is scary. It is difficult to move to a country that you’ve never been to before. I know what I’ll be looking for – food and friends, and hopefully, Colombo will surprise me, just like Canberra did.
A traveler came upon an old farmer hoeing in his field beside the road. Eager to rest his feet, the wanderer hailed the countryman, who seemed happy enough to straighten his back and talk for a moment.
“What sort of people live in the next town?” asked the stranger.
“What were the people like where you’ve come from?” replied the farmer.
“They were a bad lot. Troublemakers all, and lazy too. The most selfish people in the world, and not a one of them to be trusted. I’m happy to be leaving the scoundrels.”
“Is that so?” replied the old farmer. “Well, I’m afraid that you’ll find the same sort in the next town.
Disappointed, the traveler trudged on his way, and the farmer returned to his work.
Some time later another stranger, coming from the same direction, hailed the farmer, and they stopped to talk. “What sort of people live in the next town?” he asked.
“What were the people like where you’ve come from?” replied the farmer once again.
“They were the best people in the world. Hard working, honest, and friendly. I’m sorry to be leaving them.”
“Fear not,” said the farmer. “You’ll find the same sort in the next town.”