Broadband by Bicycle in Canberra

From O'Connor to Forrest By Bicycle for a workshop on Broadband and E-Culture in Canberra

Tom Worthington

28 May 2003

From O'Connor to Forrest By Bicycle

In the past I have prepared "live to web" technical travelogues from exotic locations across the world. These usually combine a visit to an information technology event or institution, with some travel photos and cultural activities. Last week I realized that where I live is normal to me, but will be exotic to many others. So here is a short travelogue from today, 28 May 2003.

Edge and Folding Bicycle David
Street Wetland (opposite City Edge)

The National Office for the Information Economy (NOIE) had invited me to a workshop on Broadband and E-Culture in Canberra. In a sense this trip started in London in 2000, when I took the Eurostar to Paris to visit UNESCO's Observatory on the Information Society. . NOIE's office is about seven kilometres from O'Connor, where I live in my "Smart Apartment". Rather than drive, I decided to ride my new Folding Bicycle and take some photos on the way. There was no need to ride or any roads as there are bicycle paths the whole way.

This trip starts in O'Connor, an inner Canberra suburb and goes along a bicycle path through parkland beside Sullivans Creek. Just next to my home the David Street wetland has been built by volunteers to clean up the water quality and encourage wildlife.

Bicycle path beside Sullivan's Creek Civic - Canberra's city Centre

Normally I would go straight along the path to the Australian National University (ANU) to my office. But I turned east, skirting past the edge of the campus, past "Civic" (Canberra's city Centre) the Canberra School of Music (across from the site of the new National ICT Centre of Excellence).

A walking bridge over the freeway then took me to the edge of Lake Burley Griffin, with the National Museum of Australia visible across the lake. The easiest way across the lake is to go under Commonwealth Avenue Bridge (with a view of the National Library of Australia and the High Court) and then up and over towards Parliament House.

School of Music

bridge over the freeway to Lake Burley Griffin

Taking the ring road to the south of Parliament House, I noticed the security cordon thrown up around the building. There was an anti-terrorist exercise in progress and so I decided not to go an closer. Past the historic St. John's Church it was then just a few hundred metres to NOIE HQ at the Burns Centre.

Museum of Australia

Library of Australia and the High Court, seen from under Commonwealth
Avenue Bridge

The hard part was now to find somewhere to put the bicycle. Everyone else seemed to have arrived by car. The security guard looked suspiciously at my tangle of steel which is a folded bicycle. But one of the NOIE staff kindly put it in their office. The meeting was already in progress (taking all the photos slowed me down), so I sat down and got my breath back.

Commonwealth Avenue Bridge towards Parliament House

Parliament House, with as security cordon and anti-terrorist exercise
in progress St.
John's Church, next to Parliament House


The Workshop



The workshop didn't start well, as I got an e-mail invitation with nothing in it except an error message. After a few more fractured messages I worked out this was a NOIE project about how grass roots community organizations in Canberra might use broadband. Also it was to feature the launch of

Fortunately I persevered with the event and attended the workshop. About one third of the room were familiar from university projects, community arts, local and federal government. After the formal start by the NOIE CEO, the event had an introduction by Karen Geiselhart (the force behind the whole day) and some local cultural content workers.

The workshop then had a series of brainstorming sessions, with writing ideas on coloured paper and the like. Someone kept collecting the bits of paper so I assume the results will be collated and published at some point.

Each time the workshop risked becoming into an arts-mafia talk-fest, the facilitator would close the session and move on. It was a slightly pressure cooker atmosphere with everything being videotaped and someone at the back furiously typing on a keyboard. As well as the arts times there were people from Transact, GrangeNet and other technical types.

When asked how I could contribute, I said I would do a travel report about my bicycle trip in. The point of this was to make sure that this wasn't just seen as an exercise for large corporate research organizations. It is people communicating with other people who actually live and work in the Canberra community.

We could get some Canberra multimedia content into the Australian Creative Resources Archive. The archive will be in Brisbane, but accessible from ANU via GrangeNet's gigabit connection. Last year I suggested to ACT Filmmakers' Network that we could test serving up their content via ANU and then possibly trial it on Transact (see footnote of my talk).

See Also

Copyright Tom Worthington 2003