But even by it's own standards, it is looking extremely bleak. There are some water restrictions – but they aren't draconian. Canberrans often have big flat blocks, and native trees predominate; often grey/green, with loads of dry bark piled up under them. Maybe the local flora is naturally bleak. But I have noticed in many places residents have essentially drawn a line across their property and just ignored everything past that point.
Some shopping centres are under a moratorium with no new building allowed and heaps of vacancies. A 5 minute-walk from Felicity's house are the Weetangera Shops. All over Canberra, this model of little clusters of shops was implemented. Here there is a Pakistani restaurant, a bodybuilding centre, a patisserie and a bakery, a dentist and Brazilian Queen hair removal service. There is zero traffic.
|The tooth is headed next door for an eyebrow waxing.|
|You would never know you are less than 10 metres from a sindhi biryani|
|On my first visit I was overwhelmed by the abundant parking.|
I returned to document the bleakness in full. It's not conventional suburban dystopia – there is very little graffiti. Things are just closed, or empty, or both. To be fair it is between Christmas and New Year, and everyone goes to the coast. But… a lot of these places are closed for good. I heard that Girlalang shops were a lot worse, but I didnt get a chance to ghoulishly cruise over there.
|This changed to something else at some point but now its essential 'unisex hairdresser-ness' is reasserting.|
|The play area wasn't ALWAYS deserted but it wasn't hard to get this picture.|
It is surrounded by blank brick walls, the back entrances of vacant shops.
You can just imagine the pall that this sort of thing could cast over a community. Neighbourhood friendships gone, possibly property values affected, and that nagging worry if your own health might be affected from living next door.
Below is a typical street in Weetangera. The first question this raises for me is; where do you walk? And in practice the answer is – on the road. Footpaths do exist in places but in many areas they have been omitted in favour of green nature-strips on both sides. Residents' approaches to managing nature-strips vary; it may be gravelled over for car-parking, maintained as tidy lawn, allowed to go feral or in many cases, planted with large trees and shrubs making it impassable to foot traffic.
And lastly here is a true Canberra icon – the cyclindrical concrete bus-stop. These date back to (and loudly scream) 1974!! They were designed by Clem Cummings.