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From hate to fate: How I fell in love with the Bush Capital

Kirstie Fitzpatrick

Eucalyptus trees and roundabouts.

They were the two things I remembered about Canberra after visiting the capital to watch my Dad run a marathon many years ago.

A few years later, I, like every other high school history student, came to Canberra on a school trip. We stayed in cabins surrounded by eucalyptus trees near Black Mountain and I became travel sick after the school bus jolted around the tenth roundabout in fifteen minutes.

2012 was my last visit to Canberra. I came for a university open day at ANU. It didn’t go well and it didn’t last long. While my beautiful Mum was trying to settle my discomfort by telling me trees and road structures wouldn’t interfere with my studies, I couldn’t wait to get out of there.

I was one of those naive Canberra-haters for no other reason than I couldn’t understand how any city, let alone the capital city of a country, could be so bush-like. So when I received a phone call with a full-time job offer in Canberra, naturally I was hesitant. My partner and I thought the best way to decide whether or not Canberra could be our next home was by coming for a day trip.

As we drove into our potential home-to-be, I ran a red light on that bizarre circular intersection on the Barton Highway. Northbourne Avenue looked like it had been hit by a bomb (what the hell is a light rail?) and City Walk might as well have been full of tumbleweeds.

We soon found the Canberra Centre, Mad Mex (now our nostalgic go-to lunch option) and a bustling London Circuit, followed by incredible views of Lake Burley Griffin. We drove up to Parliament House, then to Black Mountain and before long, Canberra was more appealing than we’d ever imagined.

Fast forward six months and we enjoy drinks along the Kingston Foreshore, which we like to call a mini Darling Harbour. My favourite view in the city is from the roundabout on Anzac Parade, I’ve eaten at Dobinsons more time than I can count and I know all the names of the members of the ACT Legislative Assembly.

We spend our weekends at the zoo, exploring the War Memorial, or trying to work out what’s what from the top of Mount Ainslie. We’ve enjoyed FASHFEST, Floriade, the Enlighten Festival and Australia Day fireworks on the lake and needless to say, the roundabouts have come in very handy when we’ve taken a wrong turning and ended up closer to Tuggeranong than Gungahlin.

I love my job, my partner loves his and every day we count our blessings to be living in the capital city of Australia.

Today, as I’m writing this, I’m sitting on the balcony of my apartment in Canberra’s north, looking at the eucalyptus trees swaying in the wind and wondering which direction the car will turn at the roundabout at the bottom of my street.

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