Fire and coronavirus sweep the year’s top stories

Share Canberra's trusted news:, had its best year in clicks with reportage on bushfires and covid leading the numbers, making up eight of the top 10 stories of 2020. 

1. Qantas cancels flights amid smoke concerns

JANUARY: Topping the list,’s best-read story of the year revealed that almost all Qantas flights, in and out of Canberra, were cancelled due to “hazardous” smoke conditions across the ACT.  At the time, the air quality was worse than countries such as China and India, Kate Meikle wrote. One “CityNews” reader likened the news to the science fiction movie, “Blade Runner 2049”.

2. Knife-wielding Calwell offender strikes after dark

JUNE: A knife-wielding man lunged at and stabbed multiple people on the streets of Calwell, leading police to urge residents to be aware of their surroundings. Curious about whether the knife-wielding offender is still at large, “CityNews” asked police, and a spokesperson said: “The investigation has been suspended until further information becomes available. There is no further threat to the community.”

3. Bin strike widens: Is your suburb affected?

NOVEMBER: If this well-read story, that quickly rose to number three in just over a month, speaks for anything, it’s that Canberrans really don’t like people messing with their bins. The article came after bins were disrupted for a third week due to ongoing industrial action by drivers employed by the collection contractor, Suez. A few unhappy readers, such as Neil, of Fisher, moaned about paying higher taxes and getting worse services.

4. Grim map suggests southern suburbs in the face of fire

JANUARY: A map from the Emergency Services Agency revealed a grim picture when it predicted that a fire, burning in Tharwa, was moving towards the Canberra suburbs of Banks and Gordon.

5. Bus passengers told to quarantine immediately

MARCH: Readers were concerned to learn that a whole Murrays bus full of people travelling from Sydney to Canberra were asked to quarantine after the ACT’s third confirmed coronavirus case, a woman in her 70s, was on it.

And a PS…

Speed van hasn’t hit the brakes 

P.S. The website’s most-read article this year was actually a story published in July, 2018. “Revealed: secrets of the speed-camera vans” continues to pique the interest of readers looking to find out everything they want to know about white-van speed cameras, but are too afraid to ask.



“Lobby turns into a blot on the landscape”

FEBRUARY: “What a forlorn and shabby eyesore the former Lobby Restaurant on King George Terrace in Parkes looks these days,” wrote “Seven Days” columnist Ian Meikle of the NCA and Commonwealth-protected building, who say they’re “committed” to preserving its heritage values.


“Barr bags out Geocon’s Kingston tower”

JULY: Surely, Geocon’s proposal for inner Kingston is a joke? asked “Canberra Matters” columnist Paul Costigan about the design, which he called a “bland box tower”. But the “really big surprise” was an email from Chief Minister Andrew Barr, who wrote: “I consider the proposal released doesn’t fit with the form and amenity of the surrounding neighbourhood.”


“Why this ACT government should terrify you”

JANUARY: Before the ACT October election, columnist Jon Stanhope wrote about the dire and unfair consequences of the ACT government’s planning and housing policy, which he said has kept “silent” Canberrans, such as pensioners or people in lower-income households, from being able to afford a detached house.


“Witness J: my life among the paedophiles”

APRIL: After Robert Macklin, last year, broke the national story of Witness J, the prisoner held secretly in Canberra’s Alexander Maconochie Centre for more than seven months, this year Macklin reported on the release of his book “Here, There are Dragons”, about Witness J’s experience of being incarcerated with some of Australia’s most odious paedophiles.


Don’t surrender West Basin to the developers”

JULY: “Water’s-edge projects, such as that proposed for West Basin, will destroy the current habitat, remove access for ordinary Canberrans and concentrate the benefits in the hands of a few. UnAustralian!” wrote political columnist Michael Moore, of the project which has since been retitled as “Acton Waterfront”.


“Whispers of the end of the known world in 1919”

MARCH: Not long after reported Canberra’s first confirmed coronavirus case, “Yesterdays” columnist Nichole Overall wrote of the parallels between the COVID-19 pandemic and the influenza pandemic of 1918-19 – the Spanish Flu. “Masks normally the domain of health professionals are donned by the public and proclamations issued on everything from travel restrictions to school closures and the cancellation of public events,” she said, describing the Spanish Flu.


Who Can You Trust?

In a world beleaguered by spin and confused messages, there's never been more need for diverse, trustworthy, independent journalism in Canberra.

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