Posts filed under 'Canberra Stories'
One of the unusual little changes in Canberra over the Christmas/New Year period occurred on Antill Street in Dickson where the Jehovah’s Witnesses made a change to their humble little unassuming Kingdom Hall.
They added an incredibly bright sign to the Antill St side of the building. This light stands out a lot on this dark side of this primarily residential street.
The sign is so bright that, from this angle, it appears in photos as just another light on the building. To get a shot of the sign where it is readable, the building has to become almost invisible.
The sign was quite startling on the first night, and while it still stands out a lot, I would now describe it as merely distracting, now that I’m used to it.
During daylight hours though, it is almost unnoticeable as it fits in with the building quite well.
In fact if you compare that photo to a picture from Google Street View, you probably wouldn’t even notice the difference unless you were actively looking for it.
(h/t Google Street View)
I do wonder what the residents on the other side of the street make of it?
January 8th, 2015 at 12:00pm
Over the last few weeks, the fences have gone up around the Currong Apartments in Braddon, and so the days are numbered for this rather dodgy bit of Canberra.
Interestingly the power is still on in there as some of the lights in the common areas were on went I went by, and could be seen from outside the fence.
Also interesting is that one of the abandoned cars in the carpark was not removed before the fences went up.
And for purposes of comparison, here is a photo taken from Currong St yesterday.
And a photo from the archives of Samuel’s Blog, taken in January 2007.
It will be very interesting to see how the demolition takes place as the building is very close to a lot of other residences and many types of quick demolitions would be inappropriate due to the disruption or mess they would cause.
January 7th, 2015 at 10:40am
The ACT Government is considering implementing a “container deposit scheme” which would add 10 cents to the cost of drinks sold in recyclable containers such as plastic bottles or in cans. The idea is pretty simple: ten cents is added to the cost of the drink, and you (or anybody else) can redeem the ten cents if you return the container to a special recycling location…although The Canberra Times has a much more convoluted way of describing it which almost excludes the consumer from funding it and instead makes it sound like consumers profit from it:
ACT Environment Minister Simon Corbell says Canberra would probably follow NSW into a scheme that paid people 10 cents a pop to return cans and other drinks containers.
Container deposit schemes are industry funded – paid for through a levy on the cost of drinks – and have been strongly opposed by the big drinks manufacturers and by some states, with attempts to develop a national scheme failing.
(h/t Kirsten Lawson, The Canberra Times)
It pays people to return drink containers? Ummm, not quite…it returns the money which was already paid by the customer.
It’s industry funded? Well, if we ignore the consumer-funded levy for a moment, from an administrative standpoint that might be true as it costs money to administer such a scheme and if the entire ten cent levy is being returned to the customer when the container is returned, then the administration costs have to come from elsewhere, and obviously it will come from the drink manufacturers. It fits in well with the saying “a fine is a tax for doing something wrong, and a tax is a fine for doing something right”.
It could be argued that not everyone will return drink containers to the special recycling centres, and the levy from those containers could fund the administrative costs…but alas, as per the proposed NSW scheme which the ACT wants to follow:
Containers could also be recycled as usual in household recycling but in that case the council would redeem them and get the refund.
(h/t Kirsten Lawson, The Canberra Times)
ACT taxpayers (and NSW ratepayers for that matter) already pay for recycling services which handle such drink containers, so all this does is tax them a further ten cents per container for a service which they’re already paying, unless they choose to go out of their way by taking the drink containers to special locations in which case they get their ten cents back, but the drink manufacturers still have administrative costs which they will undoubtedly add to the cost of drinks.
This scheme is allegedly designed to improve recycling rates and reduce the amount of recyclable materials going to landfill, but there are two big problems with it.
1. The latest recycling statistics available from the ACT Government’s website suggest that 75% of recyclable materials are being recycled (as of 2010/2011, an increase of 4% of 2009/2010), and this rate is increasing year-on-year. The vast majority of people are already recycling such materials, and this scheme punishes them for “doing the right thing” unless they go out of their way to do so in specific locations.
2. Other items can still be recycled through standard domestic household recycling services at no extra cost, so even if 100% of drink containers are recycled through the new scheme, trucks will need to continue with their existing suburban runs to deal with other recyclables. When this is added to the number of individuals making trips to these new recycling locations with their drink bottles, and (in the case of NSW’s proposed “reverse vending machines” in public locations) the extra trips by trucks transporting the bottles from the “reverse vending machines” to the recycling depot, what we have is a much less efficient recycling scheme in terms of the number of vehicle trips required to deal with the transportation of recyclable materials.
These container deposit schemes made sense at a time when recycling schemes were new and an incentive such as “have your levy back” helped to educate people to recycle, but at a time when three quarters (and increasing) of recyclable material is being recycled, this is an inefficient scheme which places an unnecessary impost on drink manufacturers, and punishes people for doing what, up until now, governments have insisted is the right thing to do.
January 6th, 2015 at 03:57am
Northbourne Avenue, for a brief moment this afternoon, may have been the most secure road in Canberra…
Eight Wilson Security cars in high-vis livery. Quite a sight.
October 22nd, 2014 at 05:20pm
The National Broadband Network regularly posts on its website updated figures regarding the number of households to which the NBN is available. Michael Still (who, unlike me, is a proponent of the NBN) has been tracking these numbers and has found something odd…the NBN seemingly no longer reaches 24 houses in the ACT that it reached two months ago.
NBN rollout in the ACT December 2013 – January 2014. Image credit Michael Still
On the face of it, the numbers don’t make sense for two reasons:
1) As the project is built, it should continue to reach an increasing number of houses. If more houses were being knocked down in Canberra than being built, the decline might make sense, but then you’d have to wonder whether it would be better to prioritise the rollout in places which aren’t being demolished.
2) That amazing drop late week which mostly undid itself this week. The numbers are dodgy. Something is very wrong with the way they are being calculated.
This leads me to the inevitable question of “how many homes have actually been passed by the NBN?”. It’s possible that there was an overestimation of the number and they are now slowly auditing and correcting it, or it could be a more sinister and deliberate exaggeration of the numbers from before the federal election with a gradual correction of the numbers so as to not raise suspicions with a sudden drop.
This all leaves me wondering how much it is actually costing per house passed, and how much more over-budget this places the project than we already knew about. The NBN seems to be quickly devolving in to another TransACT rollout…over budget, behind schedule, unlikely to ever reach all of the people it initially said it would, and likely to risk leaving people high and dry if it collapses under its own weight or doesn’t get bailed out somehow.
The inescapable conclusion is that this should have been left to the private sector to do in a cost-effective manner in response to consumer demand. The rollout wouldn’t have been as quick (not that you could call the NBN’s rollout quick) and the speeds might not have been as high as offered by NBN Co. initially, but at least it would have been done in a responsible and commercially sustainable manner which didn’t require tens of billions of taxpayer dollars (perhaps close to $100 billion) at a time when the federal government really can’t afford it.
January 31st, 2014 at 07:22pm
At about 3:20am today, I noticed some rather unusual behaviour in the traffic lights on Cotter Road between the Tuggeranong Parkway and Adelaide Avenue.
At first what I noticed was that one set of lights on the overpass over the Tuggeranong Parkway was flashing amber while the other set of lights was behaving normally. This is a little odd as the two sets of lights are linked so as to improve traffic flow in the area, but it’s not uncommon for a single set of lights to act-up and for a linked set of lights to carry on using only its own sensors, so I didn’t think much of it until I got to the next set of lights at the Cotter Road/McCulloch St intersection as these lights were also flashing amber. This set of lights are not linked to the ones near the Tuggeranong Parkway and it seemed very odd to have two unconnected sets of traffic lights in such a small area acting-up without any odd weather or some deliberate police activity (of which there was none).
It got stranger just a few metres away at the Cotter Road/Lady Denman Drive intersection where the traffic lights were behaving normally. These lights are linked to the McCulloch St lights and it is definitely peculiar to have two pairs of linked lights where one of each pair is misbehaving in such close proximity. It became bizarre enough for me to call Canberra Connect (the ACT Government’s call centre) to report the issue when, a bit further down the road, a completely independent set of lights at the Cotter Road/Dudley Street intersection was also flashing amber.
Green dots indicate working traffic lights. Yellow dots indicate lights which were flashing amber.
When I rang Canberra Connect I was asked if I would like to hear back from someone about my report and I am starting to wish I had said “yes”. Even though I doubt I would really hear back about this issue, and even if I did it would probably just be from someone telling me that the problem was fixed within a certain time-frame, I would be interested to know what caused this problem. It seems to me as if someone may have been a bit naughty and fiddled with a few control boxes, but it could also have been caused by a technical problem of some sort, and I’d be fascinated to know what sort of technical fault could affect some lights and not other in that manner.
I suppose it’s just one of those interesting mysteries of late-night driving in Canberra.
January 6th, 2014 at 04:31am
This is not something I was expecting to see parked at the Dickson shops at lunch time: a car with the logo of 2WG Wagga Wagga all over it.
It’s a long way to go for lunch, although I have done it before myself…still, it would be odd if somebody took a company car for a two-and-a-half hour drive just for lunch.
I wonder what they’re here for?
September 17th, 2013 at 12:45pm
In order to vote for a sensible and stable conservative government, I quite happily followed the Liberal Party’s “how to vote” card for the House Of Representatives, and would thoroughly recommend that people do the same for their local Liberal or National candidate.
I did, however, have to vote below the line for the Senate as I was not comfortable with the full set of preferences. I’m not keen on the Bullet Train Party getting the second set of preferences, so I replaced them with Bob Katter’s party which would be a much more sensible bunch, and I had to push the Voluntary Euthanasia Party as far down the list as possible while keeping Labor and The Greens last. As such, this is how I adjusted the Liberal Party’s senate preferences for my below-the-line vote.
The other benefit to voting below the line is that, due to the complexity of it, the counting is done by computer, not a human, which has some benefits when you consider how convoluted the Senate preferential voting system is.
September 7th, 2013 at 10:53am
An email to 2GB’s Ray Hadley, and I will be posting my personal voting intentions in full on this blog later this week
We’re lucky in the ACT to only have 27 senate candidates, so I will be voting below the line.
The AEC website has lists of the preference flows of each of the above-the-line options. I’m not entirely happy with the Liberal preference flow so I will be basing my vote on their preferences with a few alterations. I will be keeping The Greens absolute last though.
September 2nd, 2013 at 09:32am
Two separate car fires caused the evacuation of over 70 residents overnight, and many thousands of dollars of property damage.
The first fire, in the underground carpark of Condamine Court in Turner involved fourteen cars and a boat. The entire block of the apartment complex above the carpark was sealed off, and residents were evacuated. Many residents were temporarily relocated in the Rex Hotel just up the road on Northbourne Avenue.
Forbes St, Turner, blocked due to the Condamine Court fire
Northbourne Avenue north-bound partially closed due to the Condamine Court fire
In Jerilderie Court in Reid, a car which has not moved for at least a year was torched. Residents were evacuated from the apartments above the fire and much of the carpark has been blocked off. A HAZMAT team was called in to perform atmospheric monitoring due to concerns about toxic smoke. The torched car produced more toxic smoke than usual due to a number of tyres being stored in the car in addition to the ones on its wheels.
Witnesses reported seeing two young males running from the scene, and some police officers were sent from the scene to check surrounding blocks for any sign of the pair.
The Emergency Services Agency reports that two cars were on fire in the Jerilderie Court blaze. I did not see evidence of the Mazda next to the torched car being on fire, however as it was right next to it, there probably was plenty of fire, smoke, and water damage.
Firefighter battles the car fire in Jerilderie Court
After most of the fire had been put out, more flames emerged from under the car’s bonnet
The aftermath of the Jerilderie Court fire
I was able to get some footage of the Jerilderie Court fire while it was being put out, but the Condamine Court blaze had been well-and-truly extinguished by the time I was able to get over there. Here is some footage from both scenes.
Media note: A clean version (no watermark and no supers) of this footage is available upon request, in exchange for attribution. Alternatively you are free to use this video, provided that you do not remove the “Footage from Samuel’s Blog” watermark.
Update 6:07am: The police have issued a press release in which they say that, in addition to the two fires I’ve covered above, there were a bunch of other fires in garbage bins around the Civic and inner-North areas last night. The wording of the press release is ambiguous about whether there were car fires before the two I’ve noted above. Anybody with information is asked to call Crimestoppers on 1800 333 000. End Update
Update 12:08pm: After a tip-off, I have discovered that the Jerilderie Court recycling bins were also decimated by fire during the night. More interestingly, the bins which are made out of plastic appear to have completely melted.
This apparently occurred before the car fire, which fits with what I saw as there was no sign of this fire when I first arrived on the scene, and it certainly wasn’t put out afterwards, so it must have happened before the car fire. End Update
August 23rd, 2013 at 04:40am
But it leaves me wondering if it would make me ineligible to enter.
This afternoon on 2CC, Drive Show host Mike Welsh ran “It’s just not normal” as The Phrase That Pays. That phrase is the tag line for this blog and my name was the answer.
After this the song “Sam Hall” by Johnny Cash was played. Mike Welsh’s show was the first place I heard that song a few years ago, so it’s nice of him to play it again in relation to me.
I hope the winner enjoys their prize.
August 15th, 2013 at 05:39pm
Canberra and Queanbeyan hardware chain Magnet Mart, which is currently in a state of partial-rebrandedness, will completely rebrand to Home hardware within the next day or two, as a television advertising campaign for Home Hardware which is set to hit TV screens within the next couple of days will claim that Home Hardware is “now open” in locations which currently house Magnet Mart stores.
This change has been on the cards for a long time. Magnet Mart opened in 1985 in Queanbeyan on the corner of Yass Rd and Aurora Ave, a location where it still has a store today. It later expanded in to Canberra by taking over hardware stores in Phillip and Belconnen. The Phillip store still exists but the Belconnen store closed some time ago and the site has since become a Good Guys electrical retailer. A further store was opened in Gungahlin in 2002
Magnet Mart also opened stores outside the Canberra and Queanbeyan area, of which it still operates the Bowral and Goulburn stores.
In 2011 a company called Danks bought Magnet Mart, which had been a family-owned business until this time. Danks already owned Home Hardware and Thrifty-Link Hardware at this stage, however it was stated that Magnet Mart stores would remain branded as “Magnet Mart” for “the foreseeable future”. It seems that we have now reached the unforeseen portion of the future.
Danks, incidentally, is owned by Woolworths. Woolworths directly owns and runs the Masters chain of hardware stores, one of which is located near Canberra Airport, however despite owning Danks, Woolworths exerts less direct control over the Danks-owned brands than it does over Masters.
Last night when the impending advertising campaign regarding the completed rebranding of Magnet Mart was brought to my attention, I decided that it would be a good idea to head out and get some photos of an icon of Canberra’s history before it completely disappears, and so after work in the wee hours of the morning, I did just that. Before that though, I checked out the Magnet Mart and Home Hardware websites to see how they were progressing with the rebranding.
On the Magnet Mart site, the old site is still there but it is quite clear that changes are being made.
Over at Home Hardware, they seem to be ready to claim full ownership of the stores as their map of stores in the Canberra region identifies all of the Magnet Mart stores and, although it names them as Magnet Mart, it uses a Home Hardware icon for them on the map.
Before I go on, I should apologise for the quality of some of the photos which appear below. They were taken in the early hours of the morning on my phone as I thought it might seem a bit suspicious if I went home and picked up my proper camera.
The Gungahlin Magnet Mart store is in an intriguing state of dual branding. The main sign on the building has been changed to the “we’re almost Home Hardware” sign.
As has the main outside sign, but the building itself still carries the “start smart” Magnet Mart branding.
In Phillip, the rebranding is a few steps behind. One of the outside signs has been changed.
It is interesting to note that updating branding was never something Magnet Mart did in any hurry. The base of that sign contains the “Always cheaper” slogan which Magnet Mart used through the 1980s and early-to-mid 1990s.
Approaching the Phillip Magnet Mart building from the western end of Hindmarsh Drive, there is no sign of impending change (above sign excepted).
And a closer look at the Hindmarsh Drive side of the building.
Although from the eastern end of Hindmarsh Drive, things are a little more obvious.
In Queanbeyan, at Magnet Mart’s original store, the rebranding is well and truly underway, as can be seen on the building and the large sign on Yass Road.
Showing its age, the signs advertising current specials on the side of the Magnet Mart building, do not contain the current “start smart” branding or the very old “always cheaper cheaper” branding, but instead an internet-era “low prices everyday” branding with a Magnet Mart website URL (the website is just below the word “Magnet”, although it doesn’t show up very clearly in this photo).
On the very poorly-lit Aurora Avenue, I was fortunate to have a passing truck’s tail lights providing a little bit of extra light for this photo of a completely un-rebranded side of the building.
Although the sign at the carpark entrance has been updated, and was the only sign I could see on any of the Magnet Mart stores on which the Home Hardware “go where the tradies go” slogan was visible.
And a building over the back of the premises (which can be seen from the street) has been updated, carrying both Home Hardware and Magnet Mart branding.
Home Hardware has one existing store in the region which is in Queanbeyan’s southern suburb of Karabar. I have a vague memory of there being another Home Hardware store in Phillip some years back, separate to and small than the Magnet Mart store, however my research is only turning up a BBC Hardware (BBC was bought out by Bunnings, which is owned by Wesfarmers, which owns Coles, the main competitor of Woolworths, which owns Danks and therefore Magnet Mart and Home Hardware) store. Perhaps that BBC store was sold to Home Hardware and closed when Danks bough Magnet Mart, or perhaps I’m remembering a Home Hardware store somewhere else in Canberra, but I’m absolutely certain that at some stage I went in to a Home Hardware store in Canberra with Dad, and it certainly wasn’t in Karabar.
Anyway, the Karabar Home Hardware store is a tad interesting in that it is the only store in the region which seems to be displaying the Home Hardware mascots Sandy and Rusty.
This is in stark contrast to one of the other Home Hardware stores way over the other side of the country in Merrendin in Western Australia. That store gives Rusty and Sandy pride of place, and even goes by the name of “Two Dogs Hardware”.
(image credit: Two Dogs Hardware’s Facebook page)
The Karabar store also has the slightly out-of-date Home Hardware slogan “the proper hardware store” on some of its signage.
And also has a sign promoting the “dogalogue sale”…because a store with dogs as mascots can’t have a catalogue.
It is also the only Home Hardware store in the region with its very own covered carpark, although it probably does share it with the adjoining shopping centre.
So, Magnet Mart is almost gone. It’s the end of an era in Canberra, and a little sad for me as I grew up with Magnet Mart commercials. Up until about the mid-1990s they used a jingle with which I enjoyed singing along. Courtesy of Frank of Franskter’s Archives, here is the audio of a Magnet Mart television commercial from 1987 containing that jingle.
Also thanks to Frank, I have a recording of myself singing along to a Magnet Mart commercial in 1994. Frank did a great job of restoring the tape from which this clip came, and I have a bunch more tapes of myself through my childhood years which I will be entrusting to Frank to digitise and clean up.
I suppose I should note that I did enjoy the hijinks of Rusty and Sandy the dogs when they featured prominently in the Home Hardware commercials, so at least I will still see some link to my childhood in the new Home Hardware stores, even if the memory isn’t quite as old and fond as the old Magnet Mart jingle.
I suppose some people might think it a tad odd that I drove all over Canberra and Queanbeyan to take photos of hardware stores in the dark after 2am, and they may have a point, but alas I doubt that I’ll have time during the daylight hours today and I wanted to be sure that I could document the stores before they completely lose the Magnet Mart logos and branding.
March 20th, 2013 at 08:20am
Today I was very surprised to see something which I didn’t think I would ever see.
For as long as I can remember, Supabarn supermarkets have stocked Black & Gold products as their generic brand. People who have been reading this blog for many years would remember many years ago that I noted Black & Gold adding images to their labels.
Today, while in Supabarn in Watson, I saw that in addition to Black & Gold, No Frills branded generics were on the shelves.
Black & Gold sugar, No Frills sugar, and some other sugars on the shelves of Supabarn Watson
No Frills has been the primary generic brand of Franklins Supermarkets for decades, and I have fond memories of my family buying No Frills products when Franklins had two stores in Canberra. In fact I still have some No Frills products at home which have withstood the test of time.
No Frills sugar on the shelves of Supabarn Watson
No Frills, it would seem, has remained true to its name and has not made much in the way of fancy stylistic changes to its packaging, which is in stark contrast to the slightly more fancy Black & Gold labels.
Black & Gold sugar on the shelves of Supabarn Watson
The modern No Frills logo is similar in plainness to the Black & Gold logos from 2006 and earlier
From the Samuel’s Blog archives: Black & Gold label in 2006
It will be interesting to see if Supabarn continue to stock both generic brands. If so, in the interests of healthy competition, it is probably a better way to handle having multiple generic brands than the ways Coles and Woolworths do it with brands they own and control.
March 19th, 2013 at 08:46pm
I am looking forward to seeing Mary Kissel, a member of The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board, addressing The National Press Club this afternoon.
Mary usually writes very insightful pieces on things happening in the Asia-Pacific region, as well as in the United States. One piece in particular stands out in my mind and will, I hope, act as a preview for her address today.
September 24, 2012 11:27 a.m
BY MARY KISSEL
Liberal attacks on the tea party are nothing new, except when they come from a cabinet member of an allied nation—in this case, Australia. In a speech Friday in Sydney, Labor Party Treasurer Wayne Swan said “the biggest threat to the world’s biggest economy are the cranks and crazies that have taken over a part of the Republican Party.” Mr. Swan, like many Democrats, just wants to spend more taxpayer monies.
(The use of the word “liberal” is used in the way Americans use it, and not as a reference to Australia’s Liberal Party. More can be read on wsj.com, but a subscription is required)
I am very much looking forward to being in attendance for Mary’s speech this afternoon, and I am hopeful that some of you may decide to watch what will, I’m sure, be a very interesting speech, live on ABC News 24 from 12:30pm (it is always nice and unusual to find something as interesting as this on ABC News 24, so that alone makes it worth tuning in).
If I get a moment, I may try to post a photo from there as the speech gets underway, but that will depend entirely on whether it seems appropriate.
March 5th, 2013 at 10:12am
Last week I reported that the old Watson suburb sign at the corner of Knox and Antill Streets had been removed to make way for one of the new style suburb signs.
The old sign was taken down on Thursday last week around lunchtime, and the frame for the new sign was put in a couple days later. Today, a week after the old sign was removed, the new sign was put in.
This photo was taken from the opposite side of the road to the photo I took of the old sign last week.
The new style of sign contains a little bit of information about the person after whom the suburb of Watson was named, Prime Minister John Watson.
It is certainly different to the old sign, and as nice as the new sign is, I will miss the old one.
February 28th, 2013 at 07:12pm