Parton / Be here – in Canberra – now

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MY mate Simmo has lived in Canberra for twice as long as I have and never ventured inside Parliament House.

Mark Parton.
Mark Parton.
“Why would I want to see those mongrels and that place?” he said to me. “Greatest waste of money that ever was!”

We were having a beer at the club at Calwell and I explained to Simmo that if not for Parliament House, the city wouldn’t exist… that, surely, if you were going to truly embrace Canberra you had to go inside the place and have a squiz.

Simmo grudgingly agreed, but I’m still not expecting to see his face in the public gallery at Question Time any time soon.

It got me to thinking about those truly Canberra experiences that most of us have had, but some have missed out on.

This city is full of “blow-ins”, people who migrated from elsewhere for work and stayed. I’m one of those. I’ve lived here for 15 years but I’ve never been to Government House. Mark me down for the next open day. I’ve not been to Lanyon Homestead, which is unforgivable because it’s just down the road from where we live.

I’ve never seen Ginninderra Falls… but I’m not alone on that one, considering it’s been closed to the public for more than a decade.

I know blue-collar blokes, who have never been to Floriade because “pretty flowers don’t turn me on”; it’s free and it’s open for a month. Why wouldn’t you just check it out?

Have you ever been to a Raiders or a Brumbies home game?

To understand this town, I think you have to sit out in the weather and feel a game at Bruce. For the most part it feels cold, but when the home side gets on a roll, it’s an amazing experience.

The Farmers’ Market, the Old Bus Depot Markets, riding a bike around Lake Burley Griffin or climbing Mt Ainslie; seriously, if you haven’t done this stuff I promise you’ll feel a greater connection to the place.

I’ve visited the Australian War Memorial dozens of time, but it wasn’t till last month that I attended my first Dawn Service. From the looks of the crowd, I wasn’t the only one making my debut.

My dad used to say to me: “Wherever you are, you may as well be  there.”

I never really understood what he meant, but  this is exactly what he meant: we live in this wonderfully vibrant, sometimes quaint, intelligent and often rather odd little capital city. Get out there and be a part of it.


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Mark Parton
Canberra Liberal MLA and former breakfast announcer on 2CC.

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