Canberra has made a powerful friend in The New York Times which has refused to buy into the practice of Canberra bashing so popular with our interstate cousins and fly-ins.
The Gray Lady described the nation’s capital as the Brasilia of Australia - a city with natural beauty and a decidedly hipster underbelly – that has come to shine while Melbourne and Sydney bicker about their own fabulousness.
The New York Times gave reporter Emma Pearse a single brief: craft the perfect 36 hours in the nation’s capital and report back with your findings. Judging by some of the reactions on social media, she did a fine job capturing Canberra’s cultural rejuvenation.
Ms Pearse recommended a stroll down “hipster lane” to Lonsdale Street Traders in Braddon, a road trip up Mount Ainslie, trips to Dickson Asian Noodle House and Silo Bakery, topped off with a nightcap at Kingston Foreshore.
The owners of Silo Bakery, which was referred to as “part Brooklyn, part wartime Parisian bakery”, were delighted to see Canberra being treated with the respect it deserved.
“They showed that Canberra is a vibrant city that has just as much to offer as any other Australian city, especially when it comes to place to eat and drink,” owner Leanne Gray said.
Nick Bulum, the creative director of Lonsdale Street Traders, which is often touted as the epicentre of Braddon’s hipster scene, said it was about time people began taking notice of the changes in Canberra over past few years.
“A lot of independent people have been putting in hard work in Canberra for a number of years, which is what makes this kind of recognition so great,” he said.
Ms Pearse recommended this be followed up with a pedal around the city's artificial lake, a trip to the galleries, and a tour of the “home of the Aussie government” where you can see the stage of the “Gillard viral feminist smackdown” of Tony Abbott.
Goodspeed Bicycle Company owner Miles Chandler, whose shop was mentioned by the article, said it was "a real honour" to be in the New York Times and the article was great exposure for the changes happening in Canberra.
“It’s a telling thing that we’re seeing some interesting stuff happening in Canberra with great some businesses popping up all over the city, we should all be really proud of this city,” he said.
“I’m very proud of this store and all the guys who work here so the recognition is fantastic.”
Hyatt Hotel general manager Mikael Svensson, whose hotel was praised in the article, said it was great to see The New York Times covering the range and depth of activities on offer in the city.
“We are thrilled and honoured they chose to single out Hyatt Hotel Canberra as an iconic part of the city. It is testament to the special place we continue to occupy in the living history and evolving landscape of this fantastic city," he said.
A National Gallery of Australia spokeswoman said the institution was delighted with the article’s positive take on Canberra.
“The coverage gave a glowing and enticing overview of the rich array of offerings Canberra and the surrounding region has to offer and will certainly help to grow our international reputation as a must-see destination when visiting Australia,” she said.
But it wasn’t just Canberra’s emerging food scene or hipster havens and galleries that caught The New York Times reporter’s eye but also the city’s natural beauty.
“To stand atop a Canberra hilltop is to contemplate the stark charm of the Australian bush: vast grassy fields, swaths of eucalyptus forest and Instagram-worthy sunsets,” she said.
“Canberra is best appreciated with deep intakes of mountain air and an ear tuned to the calls of sulphur-crested cockatoos and crimson rosellas.”