Being un-Australian

I have a small confession to make. Well, actually, quite a big one, and one that I fear may result in our Australian visas being cancelled and see us ushered onto the first flight out of the country by clench-teethed officials.

You see, despite living here for more than a year. Despite our professed love of the Aussie way of life. Despite our attempts to assimilate into the Canberra community, there’s one thing that marks us out as not quite belonging.

We don’t actually own a barbecue.

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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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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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Six super things about living in Canberra

We’re in our fifth month as Canberrans now, and the place is starting to feel like home.

We’ve been here long enough to notice a few things that seem odd, but also to appreciate things that may not stand out to other locals but which have really wowed us.

Here are our ‘six great things about Canberra’ so far…
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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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The distance of time

My return visit to Copenhagen is at an end and, after a 24 hour stop-off in England, I’ll be on my way back home to Canberra very shortly.

Being back among familiar faces and places has been simultaneously fun, exhausting, repetitive and like I’ve never been away. But being here has also taught me something about why it’s hard to be away from our former home. Continue reading

The summer of a lifetime

Anyone who also has kids will know what I mean when I say that sometimes it’s hard to find the time to step back and take stock of life when there’s always just one more errand to run, or one more call for help to respond to.

But today, while driving along with mini- and maxi-CBRbounds in the back of the car, maxi confided in me that he thought our first summer in Canberra had been the best of his (admittedly still short) life.
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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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