Caught in the net of Telstra

Telstra

‘No internet’. Welcome to the world of Telstra.

There are still occasional elements of life in Australia that leave me befuddled. Like yesterday’s discovery that Woolworths, one of the big two grocery chains over here, is one of the most profitable supermarket businesses in the world.

Just think about that for a moment the next time you’re wondering why there are no cucumbers, or you are sorting through bags of limp pre-washed salad trying to decide which one is the least offensive – you are interacting with one of the most successful businesses of its type in the world.

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Canberra’s energy inefficient housing

Let me start this by saying that I’m not an expert in environmental matters, but by adding that I am interested in environmental matters. I was an early adopter of LED bulbs back when they cost more than the light fitting you put them into; I set up a couple of compost heaps in our last house and reduced our weekly rubbish collection by a third; and I’m generally happy to invest in something that I think will reap longer term benefits either in efficiency or in reducing my environmental footprint.

So when we arrived in Canberra, I was interested to learn that every property is assessed according to an ‘Energy Efficiency Rating’ or EER. Our year in a rental house – which is freezing in winter, boiling in summer and generates energy bills that would make a sheikh weep – only served to heighten my interest in energy efficiency when hunting for a house to buy.

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An education

Moving to a new country is a giant juggling act. You can’t know everything about your new home from the moment you arrive but you strive to gather enough information about the essentials so that nothing critical falls to the ground and smashes.

Occasionally, you miss something – like when using the wrong type of tick treatment cost Mr Pup an extra three weeks in quarantine. And a few weeks ago, we missed something else that we probably should have known about, but didn’t.

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The Canberra Weekly property section.

Dealing with Canberra’s undesirables

There’s quite a funny song that appeared on the British TV comedy show ‘Spitting Image’ many years ago, entitled ‘I’ve Never Met A Nice South African’ and it provides a suitable backdrop for the trouble I’ve had with writing this post.

Originally, this piece had an introduction along the lines of: “Every city has their undesirables and Canberra is no exception. In London, it’s investment bankers, in Copenhagen, it’s the hipsters, while in Canberra, it’s estate agents.”

But, just like the Spitting Image song, this sweeping claim troubled me. For the record, I’ve met plenty of lovely South Africans. I actually know an investment banker who’s a pretty good guy. And I even know an estate agent whom I believe to be ethical and principled.

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Ask the family: Mr Pup speaks

A cockerpoo dog.

Mr Pup still shudders when he thinks of his time in quarantine.

The member of the family who had the most difficult journey to Australia was our family dog Mr Pup. The many weeks of quarantine were particularly hard on him, not to mention us. A full year later, I asked him about his first year in Australia and whether the upheaval has been worth it. Continue reading

Ask the family: Our youngest shares his thoughts

In the second of my guest blogs, nine-year old Mini-CBRbound uses his best handwriting to share his thoughts experiences from his first year as a Canberran. It’s not for the faint-hearted, he paints a good picture of deprivation in the early months after our move, but it perks up towards the end. Mini’s participation bribe was an extra hour on the Xbox – I can hear the squeals of excitement from the rumpus room right now.

A boy leans against the side of a bed while filling out a questionnaire.

Mini-CBRbound adopts a curious writing position to share his views of a year in Canberra.

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Ask the family: Canberra through the eyes of a 12-year old

For more than a year now, you’ve been reading about my thoughts and feelings on our move to Canberra. But, as I have mentioned, there are other members of the CBRbound family too, so over the coming weeks, I’ll be sharing their views of our move and our new life here in a series of craftily incentivised questionnaires. First up is 12-year old Maxi-CBRbound, who was bribed into participation with the promise of a bowl of snacks.

A boy writing answers to a questionnaire.

Maxi-CBRbound deals with what he termed: “Extra homework.”

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Street names with a modern twist

A street sign indicating the turn-off for James Kirk Street.

Now that’s what I call a street name.

My early research into the housing market has turned up something unexpected yet entirely predictable as we investigate house prices and neighbourhoods in and around the Canberra suburb of Gungahlin.

I can’t decide whether it’s intentional or accidental, but it seems to me that the people in charge of naming Canberra’s streets have a pretty good sense of humour. Continue reading

Political science

The flag and mast above Parliament house, seen from below.

The flag above Parliament House changes direction less often than Aussie politics.

There’s a wonderful old Randy Newman song called ‘Political Science’, which was brilliantly covered by a favourite band of mine, Everything But The Girl. Its opening line goes: “No one likes us, I don’t know why/ We may not be perfect, but heaven knows we try…”

These words, and the song’s title, buzzed around my head this week as the landscape of Australia’s politics shifted following Malcolm Turnbull’s successful ousting of former Prime Minister Tony Abbott in a Liberal Party leadership challenge.

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