Friday, January 25, 2013

Song to the city

Just went for another evening walk.  I am not far from Parliament House and tonight I heard the sounds of the Australia Day concert as I strolled.  Australia Day is celebrated tomorrow - the anniversary of the first European settlement.  As one brave candidate for Australian of the Year said - maybe it's time to debate the date and find a better day that acknowledges the centuries of Aboriginal settlement that came before.

There is not much to say about the music drifting from the concert - mainstream Australian artists, some who've been around forever (Jimmy Barnes) and a few Australian idol winners or runners up (Guy Sebastian, Timomatic).   It's nice to be close to a celebration though.

We are expecting other local celebrations this year.  I was just reminded from the Parliament House website that the building is 25 years old.  That is ancient for Canberra.  We are still a young city.  Our centenary falls this year, but we've really only grown from a country town in the late 50s and early 60s.

Today the population of Canberra is about 350,000 working in the public service and service industries.  It is still a place where there are usually three degrees of separation, not the often quoted six - most people you meet know someone who knows someone you know.  It's a livable city though - good restaurants, lots of theatre, music and genuine people.

There is a confusing richness of events planned for Canberra's centenary - many will take place during Canberra Week in mid March.  One of the objectives is to increase national pride in Canberra.  As the capital city, and therefore the political centre, it can be the subject of some disdain from other Australians.  It seems we have set out to improve the way Australians view their capital by having the world's longest champagne bar - surely a quaint way indeed to show our worth.  Also learnt today of some kind of build them up knock them down event in the city - building a city out of cardboard boxes - I bought tickets to that!  It all reminds me of our Y2K celebrations - water skiing on our lake, and planes in formation overhead.

Canberra was designed by Walter and Marion Griffin, a husband and wife team from America.  The central components are built around the natural geography - triangles that fall between the local hills, with a man-made lake in the centre.  I was once told by a friend of the mystical powers of a location down by the lake (from where we watched the water skiing), and that the Griffins intended that this (and Canberra) would become a centre of creativity.  Perhaps, like all creativity, it takes time to mature.  Maybe 100 years, and a long line of champagne will see that happening sooner rather than later.

Before the March party we get a day off for Australia Day - Monday is a public holiday though the actual day is tomorrow.   Apparently it is traditional to have a barbecue on Australia Day - something I've never (ever) done.  I've been invited to a barbecue tomorrow though, so that will be something new.

Enjoy your weekend, wherever you are.  I will be sleeping in.

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