Return of the Raiders

Optimism wears many disguises but none so utterly convincing as the start of a new sports season.

Last weekend, rugby league got back underway in Canberra and, amid a sea of green polyester merchandise and a flurry of beer-buying, we were back at the Canberra Stadium, among friends and toasting the heady possibility of a winning season for the Canberra Raiders.

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The symmetry of leaving

The cover of a book: Living In Australia, Beginner.

Perhaps we are ready for the next book in this series, Living In Australia Intermediate Level?

I’m in Denmark. Exactly a year ago, together with the rest of the CBRbound family, I was preparing to leave an empty house and follow a long-dispatched container of furniture on the long journey south from Copenhagen to Canberra.

We landed in Australia on Hallowe’en and overnighted at a Sydney airport hotel, where a tired and emotional maxi-CBRbound was too shy to say the words ‘trick or treat’ to the check in staff, even though a handful of sweets was on offer to every child who did.

The next morning, we took a final short flight to Canberra, to another empty house and to start a new life. Continue reading

Placing the accent on life down under

A few weeks ago, Miley Cyrus affected an Australian accent for a TV prank which was more Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins than Paul Hogan in Crocodile Dundee.

Normally, the doings of Miley and her type wouldn’t register on my radar, but I’ve developed a keen ear for accents of late, particularly since I started detecting the early signs of an Aussie accent in nine year old Mini-CBRbound. Continue reading

Raiders for life

It started with a phone call from the Canberra Raiders’ Fan Engagement office.

“The final home game of the season is Members’ Appreciation Day, and we’ve selected 40 members who have attended every home game this season to form a guard of honour as the team runs out onto the pitch. Would you like to be one of them?”

Junior rugby players line the way from the players' tunnel to the GIO Stadium pitch.

Excited match-day mascots wait for the Canberra Raiders to take to the pitch. The cheerleaders proved distracting to one little fan.

I would, but I hesitated, because I knew someone who’d like to do it even more.

“Absolutely,” I said, “but would it be possible for my son to do it instead?”

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Canberra’s club culture

A table-top promotion for a 'Fast 50s' prize draw.

Every club runs a series of nightly promotions which are frankly, baffling to the newcomer.

Any Brit who moves abroad, no matter how much he or she loves their new home, will always find a pang of nostalgia for the good old British pub, with a name that evokes centuries of history, oak beams felled during Shakespeare’s era, a warm atmosphere and hearty food.

Family pubs don’t really exist in Australia. The closest equivalents are ‘hotels’ but these don’t tend to be as family-friendly, and certainly don’t have the same atmosphere as a traditional community pub.

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Bleed green: A season with the Raiders

Luck is a funny thing. When we first arrived in Canberra, last November, one of the things I was sure I’d miss most about Europe was football and supporting my favourite team, Liverpool. More than that, I was concerned that I’d struggle to fill the gap that left in my life.

As a potential solution – and as part of my policy of ‘make the most of your new life by trying new things’ – I signed up for a season ticket (known as a membership here) for Canberra’s local rugby league team the Canberra Raiders.

A shot of a Raiders game, from pitch-side.

The Canberra Raiders in action.

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Canberra’s local tourists

Tourist information centres aren’t just for tourists, they’re great for locals too, and the one in Canberra is a particularly useful resource, especially if you’re new to town and don’t quite know what’s on offer.

We discovered Canberra’s tourist information centre by accident when we were on a research trip to the city a couple of years ago. We left laden with enough reading material to give us cause to check our baggage allowances, and nearly all of it came in handy as we planned our permanent move. In fact, most of the brochures that appear in the CBRbound header came from that impromptu visit.
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When Canberra comes out to play

When we lived in Denmark, one of our favourite days out of the year was the Roskilde Dyrskue, or agricultural fair. It always provided a wonderful mix of great weather, pet and farmyard animals, interesting and bizarre sports, and attractions for the kids. In short, it was the perfect day out and one that we thought we’d miss after our move.

A view of the show's main arena.

Show-jumping in the foreground and a funfair in the background at the Royal Canberra Show.

Not a bit of it, because Canberra has an agricultural show all of its own – the Royal Canberra Show – and it offers all the things you’d expect, plus a few surprises too.
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Finding fan fever, far from home

Supporting a sports team is a lifelong commitment, one that defies logic, rises above setbacks and, once established, pulses deep in the veins. But what does that mean for a new migrant, thousands of miles from his homeland, in need of a regular fix of sporting action.

It’s a question that has nagged at me for years, ever since I gave up my Liverpool season ticket when my family moved to Denmark. But at least Denmark was close enough for the occasional pligrimage to see the boys in red play. Australia, well, that’s another matter entirely.

The Shankly Gates, Anfield.

The famous Shankly Gates at Liverpool’s Anfield stadium.

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When football came to town

Canberra Stadium, with an Asian Cup football match in progress.

Canberra Stadium: time for a replacement?

I love a bit of football. Aside from my lifelong devotion to Liverpool FC, the highlight of which was a seven-year spell as a season ticket holder at Anfield, I’ve always gone along to support my local team wherever I’ve lived, and have been known to pause to watch the odd interesting park game for more than a minute or two.

Imagine then, my disappointment at learning that Canberra is one of the few Australian cities not to have a team in the country’s national league, the Hyundai A-League. Imagine then, also, my delight at learning that the AFC Asian Cup – one of the world’s biggest tournaments outside of the FIFA World Cup – was being held in Australia this year and that Canberra had been named as one of its host cities.
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