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Sorry Wagga, you're not so bogan afterall

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Wagga has taken offence.

Columnist for The Canberra Times, Ian Warden, passed comment that Canberra Symphony Orchestra's concert program for 2013. "We're living in a kind of Wagga," he said, branding residents "a rather conservative, unsophisticated flock".

"Lots of the selected works are the sorts of things you'd find on one of those four-CD sets of Classical Greatest Hits for Bogans, for people who don't know much about classical music but who know what they like," he said.

That's when Wagga got upset, spraying Warden on the front page of their local paper, sparking an in-town war. "We're not the bogans you might think we are," they said.

Ironically, however, some of the Wagga townfolk agreed with the Canberran's take on things. "Ummm ... it is a bit bogan here," said one.

But a note in The Daily Advertiser today fought back: "Wagga, it could be argued, has a lot more to offer the nation than our federal capital. First and foremost, the lifestyle cities such as Wagga offer are significantly better than those in places like Melbourne, Sydney and, to a lesser extent, Canberra."


So, Ian Warden is prepared to forgive Wagga for its over-reaction. Here, he mans up, hoists the white flag, and apologises.

Dear Citizens of Wagga-Wagga,

In my typically immature column in last Saturday’s Canberra Times I made some references to your fine city that have caused some of you some offence.

I’m sorry, and of course, as a citizen of Australia’s most despised and laughed-at city (the expression ‘‘Canberra-bashing’’ is part of the national vocabulary) know how hurtful it can be to have the place one lives in and loves sniggered at by ignorant outsiders.

By the way, contrite as I am, I didn’t say in the piece, though I’m accused of it, that the people of Wagga-Wagga are ‘‘bogans’’.

Indeed, the whole piece was aimed, clumsily, at Canberrans for being music bogans so dull and conservative in their tastes in classical music that to appeal to them and get their bums on seats, the Canberra Symphony Orchestra’s program for next year is made up mostly of the things Canberrans sing in the shower.

I wanted to say that this made Canberra, on the eve of its centenary, look and feel, musically, like a backward country town. My choice of progressive and cultured and city-sized Wagga-Wagga’s name for that country town of my analogy was thoughtless and silly and wrong.

My true feelings about Wagga-Wagga are summed up in the famous song about your city, Frank Ottenson’s 1942 hit ‘‘Riverina Paradise’’ recorded by Tom Davidson and his Orchestra.

It can be accessed online (go to the National Film and Sound Archives ‘‘Does your town have its own song?’’) and as proof of how contrite I am I’ve just accessed it and sung it with great sincerity.

Yours apologetically,