There's an area down by the lake in Canberra (West Basin) which has been named 'Westside Acton Park'. It's a 'pop-up' park (as is the way of things nowadays) made from shipping containers and an metal 'exoskeleton'. The blurb around Westside has been around it 'revitalising the area'. The cynic in me says that it's more about getting people used to the idea that shortly a whole load of $1m+ 'executive apartments' will soon be built on the site with lovely views across the lake. I guess the rationale is that if Canberrans can get used to a few shipping containers, the leap to an inaccessible load of ludicrously expensive apartments won't be so great.
I think it's fair to say that the Westside Acton Park project has been far from successful. Meant to entice hipster Canberra to a new location by the lake (city to lake as it's termed) in fact it stands mostly deserted and empty as hundreds of cars drive by. The problem is it's not really "near" anywhere and so you have to go and seek it out. There's actually quite a wide range of food and drink options there, but they must all be running at a significant loss.
Anyway, last Sunday was the 'Art not Apart' festival which had Westside as one of its key venues. Unsurprisingly it was sponsored by the Land Development Agency (the ACT Government's land sales department which essentially keeps Canberra afloat financially). There was a range of events on offer from acrobatics to art installations to about two dozen DJs and graffiti artists. In addition there was a pop-up market and all the food and drink you could possibly hope to eat.
We decided to pop-along to the pop-up and I fully expected that we would pop-in and out pretty quickly, but actually it was a really well put together festival and we ended up staying much of the afternoon.
Highlight for the kids was a workshop run by the guy who runs Plastimake out of Canberra (a great polymer based craft thing which allows you to make little plastic items which then set hard) and we had a milkshake and then a curry to round the day off. Many of my doubts about the place ebbed away during the day. We'll probably go back again when the festival isn't on, but in truth it will probably go back to being half deserted of people. It's a shame really, I guess some things just pop-up in the right place and some things don't.
|One day this view (currently from the top of a shipping container bar) could be yours if you have a few million dollars spare.|
|Strawberry milkshake every time|
|Westside pop-up village|
|Portrait of the artist as a young man|
|a pop-up stage in front of the pop-up lake (that's enough pop-ups)|