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Temporal warp

December 5th, 2006

I’m visiting Canberra for a couple of days and stayed last night at Rydges Lakeside Hotel, which is something of a blast from the past for me. My first job, for six weeks after leaving school, was as a porter at the Lakeside, then brand-new and top-of-the-market. Some decades later, we’re both showing our age, and the upmarket place to stay is the Hotel Canberra, which was massively revamped some time in the 80s. An even sharper indication of age (and inflation) – the bill for one night’s stay is the same as the total amount I earned here.

A more minor temporal warp: the downstairs cafe is a bit of a mishmash in terms of decoration, but the main theme is old ad posters from the 20s and 30s. One set is of stage magicians, notably including Houdini. But there’s a ring-in. The Amazing Randi, scourge of Uri Geller and of alleged psychics in general, has managed to inveigle himself into the scene.

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  1. FDB
    December 5th, 2006 at 11:08 | #1

    He was an extremely successful and respected stage magician before he was a full-time debunker, so not really a ring-in.

  2. December 5th, 2006 at 13:08 | #2

    When I stayed there a few years back, there was a bar which featured framed caricatures of politicians, and newspaper headline posters. Do they still have it?

  3. Jimmythespiv
    December 5th, 2006 at 14:39 | #3

    surely it’s worth staying in kingston or manuka (and paying the $10 to get to ANU by Cab) than staying at the Lakeside !

  4. jquiggin
    December 5th, 2006 at 16:29 | #4

    FDB, I meant that he’s a temporal ring-on being well and truly alive

    Peter, the bar is still there.

    Jimmy, you may be right, but I like being really close to ANU. I normally stay at University House, but it was full. And while I probably won’t do it again, there’s a certain nostalgia value in being a paying guest here.

  5. Hal9000
    December 5th, 2006 at 17:12 | #5

    I recall the Lakeside being surrounded by rather bleak paddocks. Has Civic crept up to it?

  6. melanie
    December 5th, 2006 at 19:27 | #6

    I love University House. I love the 50s functional furniture and the warm bathroom floors. How do they do that?

  7. melanie
    December 5th, 2006 at 19:48 | #7

    Also, my local pub, the Kirribilli, used to have a Prime Ministers’ Bar with framed caricatures and newspaper cuttings going back to Curtin and up to Fraser on the walls. These have been removed and replaced, over the last decade, by two large Fox Sports screens. Sad.

  8. James
    December 5th, 2006 at 20:46 | #8

    I remember the Kirribilli Pub well in it’s “Prime Minister Bar” days. In the late 1980s it was always full of building workers during the day. This puzzled me, until a scandal a year or so later revealed they were phantom workers who signed on at an adjacent Milson’s Point construction site.

  9. December 6th, 2006 at 00:28 | #9

    Is Bobby McGees still open?

  10. JB
    December 6th, 2006 at 09:45 | #10

    Bobby McGees is alas no more – like many in Canberra we used to have big Friday nights there. Nothing like it left in Canberra. Also all the carparks have been filled in as new apartments and offices. The whole area has changed it’s character

  11. FDB
    December 6th, 2006 at 12:26 | #11

    “FDB, I meant that he’s a temporal ring-in being well and truly alive”

    Ah yes, missed the 20s-30s part.

    “surely it’s worth staying in kingston or manuka (and paying the $10 to get to ANU by Cab) than staying at the Lakeside !”

    Why would you want to stay somewhere Aussie Crawl never wrote a song about?

  12. Jimmythespiv
    December 6th, 2006 at 12:27 | #12


    Yes, I assumed that you would choose Rydges for its proximity to ANU. But I was suggesting that there is something a little, well, East German, about the precinct surrounding Rydges.

    I just wish Canberra had been built at Bateman’s Bay or Bawley Point or somewhere, which would have given it a tourist industry as well, to leaven the central planning approach that has occurred to date.

  13. love my bush capital
    December 7th, 2006 at 12:43 | #13

    hi – out of interest which establishment is the Hotel Canberra? were you referring to the Canberra Hyatt or has it changed its name again? i presume you dont mean the Kingo 🙂

    last time i saw the lakeside a few years ago i was manging a three day science meeting – the place was looking a trifle shabby but the people running the joint were nice and it’s so close to anu thats it’s very convenient. The only slightly deafening bit was sitting on one side of a not-very-soundproof room divider for a few days whilst a Bi-lo (jump up, throw your hands in the air and scream yeah a lot) marketing convention went on next door.

  14. O6
    December 8th, 2006 at 09:23 | #14

    Canberra is wonderful for nostalgia freaks. JG is right to call the Canberra Hyatt the Hotel Canberra: chain managers come and go but TheHotCan (telegraphic address back when that meant something) goes on forever. I remember walking across the Molonglo River (a small creek before the winter rains) from TheHotCan to the War Memorial as a small boy, no bridge needed. Only special people can walk that way now.

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