Tuesday, March 12, 2013

One underwhelming day out

Canberra celebrated its 100 birthday on Monday. The actual day was really Tuesday, (but everyone chose to forget that). Many Canberreans celebrated the event by leaving Canberra and heading to the coast, but we were loyal and hung around to go to the ‘One Big Day Out’ event at Lake Burley Griffin. It had been hyped out of all proportion - with adverts everywhere, constant plugs on local radio and press - apprently it had been 3 years in the planning.

We did as we were instructed and caught the bus as we had been warned parking was going to be at a premium. Canberra’s drivers have a habit of parking just about anywhere when there’s a public event such as this, but recently (and much to the disgust of locals) illegal parking has been clamped down on and fines issued. We caught the (packed) shuttle bus the wrong way round the loop, which meant that it took us 35 minutes to travel a distance we could have walked in about 10, but that was our fault.

The ‘One Very Big Day Out’ event had been placed in the hands of Robyn Archer. She’s a well respected singer, actress, artistic director (without children). We’d seen the programme for the event before we headed off, but even then couldn’t really spot a ‘must see’ part of it.

It all turned out to be a bit of a disappointment. The good things were the weather (which was spectacular) and the crowds (amazing to see so many people around the lake) but the actual entertainment seemed to be lacking.

We sat by a stage which repeated music by ‘The Church’ every half hour and even though we usually take picnics to events like this had decided instead to take advantage of the food stalls. I went to buy a pizza. The wait was hellish – 40 minutes in a line to get a ticket which allowed you to stand in a second line for another 30 minutes. People were mutinous - I thought blood was going to be spilt over a missing pepperoni pizza.

The entertainment (what there was of it) was all terribly high-brow or a bit obscure. Large inflated balloons spelt out ‘Welcome’ with an ‘O’ you could walk through and performing entertainers on boats who zipped by giving you a fleeting 20 seconds of entertainment before floating off somewhere else.

There were roving entertainers doing odd things - but where was the usual child friendly stuff that is normally at this kind of event – face painting, craft, petting paddock etc. It seemed like the intention was to create a family event, but without any childrens’ activities. In the end I spotted crowds of kids throwing stones at the a boat carrying a choir on board (I guess kids can create their own entertainment).

It’s hard to criticise free events (of which there’s plenty in Canberra). The kids did have a good time, but even Eli - caught up in the hype beforehand and telling everyone who would listen that we were ‘Going to Canberra’s Birthday!’ ended up saying that he was bored. The best thing of all was also the one thing that couldn’t have been planned. The weather.

one of the stages

and I thought it was a 'little ripper'

Eli had the most fun rolling down the bank

hoards of people on the lake

Lots of welcome mats (?)

Audrey leaves her mark

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