Inspired by CanberraPosted: May 30, 2013
Ah, Canberra. The nation’s capital. Reviled across Australia as (allegedly) the soulless, out-of-touch political heart of the country. (For those of my readers who are overseas, it may come as a shock to learn Sydney is not in fact Australia’s capital. Sydney is to New York as Canberra is to Washington, if that helps.)
As Canberrans love to point out, though, almost all the politicians that live here for part of the year are from other parts of the country—so if they bring a deficit of soul with them, whose fault is that? We didn’t vote for them! 😉
Canberra is, in some ways, an overgrown country town. Our population is around 370,000 people—so we don’t have the heavy pollution and insane peak-hour traffic you get in bigger cities, but we still have the amenities of a big city. We’re actually Australia’s largest inland city … but all the state capitals are on the coast, so we’re only the eighth-largest overall.
The city sprawls over 812 square kilometers, but has a population density almost a fifth of Sydney’s, and just over a third of Melbourne’s. What that means is we have a lot more green spaces than either of them do: reserves running through suburbs; low mountains covered in walking trails and with lookouts perched on top; parks for the kids to play. It’s a great place to raise a family. And a great place to set a story when your supernatural population likes green spaces.
Werewolves and fairies would love it here—there are places with hardly any iron or steel, and green corridors a wolf could sneak through. Vampires would have to be careful how they hunted given the lower numbers of humans to snack on, but depending on their appetites they’d do alright too.
So far, all my books have been set in Canberra (all 2.5 of them!). I wondered at first whether setting a supernatural tale here would somehow lack credibility, and whether I should instead pick Sydney or Melbourne, even though I’m less familiar with them. But then I thought, if Sookie Stackhouse can run into vampires in a tiny town like Bon Temps, why can’t Canberra have its own supernatural stories, that element of magic?
When I see the sunlight sparkling off the surface of Lake Burley Griffin on a crisp autumn afternoon, or the glittering lights of the city from Mount Ainslie at dusk, I think that magic is already there. All I’m doing is telling people about it.
In a fit of procrastination, the other day I made a Pinterest board celebrating Canberra. Check it out, you know, if you want to.
Click here to see this week’s other Thursday’s Children blog posts.