canberra lake feature

New Girl In Town: 10 things I’ve learned about Canberra

Sarah Bown

I’ve been living in Canberra for 81 days. 1944 hours. 116,640 minutes.

I’ve spent 45 of those pronouncing suburb names wrong, 67 trying to remember where I parked my car and approximately 1154 getting lost and driving around Parliament House.

It’s a learning curve, getting to know the intricacies of a new city. Some have made me smile, some made me laugh, others made me utter words we can’t print in this article.

Here’s a rundown of the 10 things I’ve learned about Canberra: the good, the not as good and the kind you won’t get until you’ve lived here for five+ years…

1. Traffic is virtually non existent.

I forgot what it’s like to only leave 15 minutes before you have to get anywhere. So much free time for activities. Should I take up knitting? Sanskrit? Competitive scrabble?

2. The bridge to bridge is a walk.

Not a secret yoga move reserved only for Canberrans.

3. There’s a lot of beautiful fauna.

And it’s all right up in your grill. I started to name the cockatoos in the tree outside our window but after Cochlear, Cocktail and Cockroach, I was scraping the bottom of the barrel. And now I can’t tell them apart so a largely fruitless exercise.

4. No one outside of Canberra knows it’s called the “Bush Capital”.

Just like no one knows Kalamazoo, Michigan is known as Celery City. Although you should cause it’s bound to be an awesome quiz question one day #joeytriviani

5. The six degree of separation rule quickly becomes one degree once you cross the ACT border.

No wonder underground bars are all the rage here, people need the safety of near darkness before launching into the latest workplace gossip. “You will not BELIEVE what Rochelle said the other day in the team meeting…”

6. Apparently anything further North than Lyneham is too far.

Although according to one girl I met anything above Haig park is too far (“No way? So like, is that like STILL Braddon?…” #yesway)

7. There are a LOT of embassies.

Will prove extremely convenient should I require a visa to visit Bosnia and Herzegovina.

8. Everyone in Canberra owns gloves.

My neighbour’s dog has gloves. The glove factories make a killing here.

9. You have to pay to park everywhere.

Who has that much change in their glove compartment? I maxed mine out by Day 3. Lucky the bf doesn’t know I know where his secret change drawer is… (probs does now though come to think of it)

10. There are residents of Canberra who are actually originally from Canberra.

Although the rest of Australia might beg to differ, I have proof and can indeed confirm they are in fact just normal people.

Every new city has its quirks and it takes a while to get to know them, appreciate them and ultimately grow to defend them to the “I-live-in-Bondi-and-drink-liquid-kale-everyday” types.

The haters gonna hate and the Canberrans gonna debate but this city has captured me in its gnarled frostbitten hands and it feels pretty good. It also won’t let go so figure I’d make the best of it and settle down with some marshmallows.

Sarah Bown: Canberra defender in the making, pleasure to make your acquaintance.

Catch up on Sarah’s other ‘New Girl in Town’ posts here and here.

Feature image by Martin Ollman


Sarah Bown

Sarah is fresh off the plane to Canberra and quickly realising she's not in Kansas anymore. She's a writer and marketing professional by day and spends her free time reading way too much self-help literature followed up by too much Pinot Gris. Sarah spent 2015 working in Mongolia sharing her marketing and communications skills with local organisations. Yes it was her choice, yes they have internet and no it's not next to Syria. She's in Canberra to write more, exercise more, meditate more and then proceed to do Option D: none of the above. Sarah shares more newbie tips, general hilarity and plenty of things to read while procrastinating doing actual work at More about the Author

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