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Beyond the Pale - A 'pale' is a fencepost. The English Pale was a boundary in Ireland marking out the part of Ireland under direct English rule circa 1450 (which included Dublin and environs). Those that lived 'beyond the pale', outside of English rule, were considered out of control and uncivilised. You decide...

Sunday, October 29, 2000

Fragments from the Australia Diaries 2000 (part 21) - Canberra

Canberra during rush hour

A CAPITAL PLAN

My brother's job brought him to Canberra for a week, so being nosy folk...
myself and the girls decided to head on down for a weekend to see what the story is with this compromise capital. If my sources are correct, usually not (ha!), it's called a compromise capital because it's neither Sydney nor Melbourne (the big famous cities) but lies in between and was purpose built as a capital city.

I must admit it does look very purpose built. It's all planned roads and wide open spaces. To be honest, we didn't really feel like there was a heart to it. It felt very much like a commuter city. No one actually lives in it but people zip in every day to shuffle paper (or whatever an administrative capital does!). Maybe we weren't there long enough or didn't explore the right areas but we didn't feel much of a vibe of any description!

However, we did manage to piggy back on a work BBQ Colm's boss was throwing. We were thrilled as this meant we had finally made it, a proper home grown aussie-tastic barbie. Would there be shrimp throwing? Would people be crunching cans of Castlemaine XXXX with their teeth? Would one half of the room chant 'Aussie Aussie Aussie' while the other half chanted back 'Oi Oi Oi'? Oh, we could only hope.

Dress code = black. Budget = 1 drink between 4
It turned out to be a very pleasant civilized affair. We had a good laugh and the food portions were exceedingly generous and the people very friendly. As a gesture of politeness I agreed to play the boss's young son in a game of table tennis. With thoughts of "you better back up there sonny jim, prepare to be crushed", the little whizz was running circles around me. I almost didn't want to leave, "but he has so much to teach me". But we called it a day and went once again in search of Canberra's soul. 



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