CITY NEWS OCT 24

Columnist MIKE WELSH is back for another “Seven Days” in the life of Canberra. 

CANBERRA climate activists’ second attempt to disrupt the city amused and entertained locals rather than achieved the serious gridlock aim of such rallies worldwide.

Around 150 protesters responded to the local chapter of Extreme Rebellion’s call to “swarm and shut down the city, occupy intersections, show Canberra business-as-usual can’t continue!”

The mob, chanting “no planet, no future” did close the intersection of Lonsdale and Cooyong Streets for five minutes, but traffic had all but disappeared or been diverted by the large number of police in attendance.

Canberra Centre shoppers whipped out mobile phones to record the entertainment and after-work diners and drinkers in Braddon good naturedly heckled the mob, which finished its walk with a “die in” on London Circuit.

Extreme Rebellion protestors “swarming” the city. Photo: Mike Welsh

IF the near hysterical social media response to news our humongous hot-air balloon Skywhale was homeward bound is any indication, next year’s balloon festival will be a huge success.

Tweets, from the positive “made my day” to the clever “Hindenboob is coming home”, the exaggerated “most Canberra thing ever” to the wildly inflated “greatest day in Australian history since Lady Denman declared Canberra the name of the new capital”, have set the scene for an exciting homecoming for the floating sculpture.

Youthful Skywhale in 2013. Photo: Martin Ollman.

A 2018 “New York Times” article described the multi-mammoried monster as having “a head like a turtle, a body like a giant crustacean, 10 bulbous, hanging breasts, one thing is certain: It is hard to ignore the Skywhale”. But the then ACT Opposition Leader Jeremy Hanson spat: “embarrassing indulgence” when it first floated over the capital in 2013.

Gus’ cafe… going, but coming back? Photo: Mike Welsh

STILL on all things Canberra, one genuine icon is about to be scuttled to make way for a luxury new hotel. Bunda Street landmark cafe Gus’ stands in the way of a multi-million dollar, 11-storey hotel planned for Garema Place by property developer Geocon. The developer says it will rebuild the cafe within the new hotel.

THE 2018 “Australian National Dictionary’s” word of the year, the “Canberra bubble” is not as contemporary asScoMo would have us believe. Addressing the national prayer breakfast at Parliament House, Governor-General David Hurleycryptically joked: “Even in the days of the Old Testament, God was aware of the Canberra bubble”, quoting Proverbs 11.13: “for lack of guidance a nation falls, but victory is won through many advisers”.

STILL with “lights on the hill”, member for Fenner Andrew Leigh has attempted to prick the fabled bubble which has formed around Federal parliament. In an opinion piece on Parliament House for “The Canberra Times” the MP chronicled the ordinary folk “who make it hum”. Leigh says: “I doubt I’ll work in a more beautiful place than parliament… as our feet crunch across the red gravel towards the front entrance, each of us keenly feels the privilege of serving Australians”.

MEANWHILE, the man who once vowed to empty Canberra of its public servants has also confessed his delight at working in Canberra. Drought envoy and former National Party leader Barnaby Joyce posted a pic of Parliament House with the cheesy caption: “It still gives me a thrill going to work”.

I was invited (or I thought I was) to lobby group GetUp’s National Director Paul Oosting‘s address to the National Press Club last Wednesday. But there were hoops through which I had to jump to claim my “special” invitation to the free event. 

I needed to fill out an expression of interest by sharing something about myself in 100 words or less. Then, should I be “chosen” I would be notified of my good fortune. My 15-word bio: “Just an honest campaigner prepared to go anywhere for free alcohol and a loaded smorgasbord” was probably never going to make the final cut.

I wasn’t chosen but the cheeky bastards had the gall to hit me up for a regular monthly contribution of $8 to help “fund the great work we are doing”.

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