Monica and Jacinta (8) Summers. Photo: Rohan Thomson
Visitors to the Parliamentary Triangle on Thursday may have thought they had stumbled into a parallel universe. There were car parks. People could drive straight into them. There was no circling of the asphalt waiting for someone - anyone - to leave. There was no stalking of people returning to their cars.
Laura and Graham Rayner, of Campbell, drove straight into a park mid-morning at the National Library carpark.
"And are we amazed? Yes!" Mrs Rayner said, with a laugh.
The Degroot family, Tyler (12), Jodi, Dakota (4) and Scott. Photo: Rohan Thomson
It was the Miracle of the Parliamentary Triangle. Nobody could quite believe it.
Mary Longford, of Duffy, was astounded by the spare spaces at the Questacon carpark, usually a torturous affair of circling endlessly waiting for a park.
"Normally I can spend up to 40 minutes looking for a park, to the point of almost giving up," she said, adding that she just had a
Danielle Coronel, from Queanbyean. Photo: Rohan Thomson
Danielle Coronel, of Queanbeyan, studies at the National Library five days a week, spending all day there as she studies for a PhD. She has to move her car every three hours and has copped a fine in the past when she has forgotten. On Thursday, she drove straight into a park. She said the day before, it was the opposite, with no parks to be found.
"Usually in the school holidays, I've had to wait for 30 minutes. I just sit and wait until someone comes out," she said.
Adelaide tourists Ray and Margaret Garnett got a park easily on King George Terrace outside Old Parliament House, Mr Garnett even pausing to take a photograph of his car "so close to an Australian monument".
Ray and Margaret Garnett from Adelaide. Photo: Rohan Thomson
The couple had spent a week in Canberra and had no problems parking wherever they went.
"You've got terrific roads, good signs...No, you're getting it easy here and we only live in little old Adelaide," he said.
Jodi and Scott Degroot, of Richardson, with children Tyler, 12, and Dakota, four, also couldn't believe their luck, getting a park quickly at the Questacon carpark.
"Usually if we come here or somewhere like the National Museum, we're driving around for a good 10, 15 minutes," Mrs Degroot said.
So what gives? The school holidays are over for Queensland, NSW and Victoria. ACT school children are still on holidays. Maybe all those public servants who park in the Parliamentary Triangle are on holidays?
Whatever the reason, miracle or not, most people The Canberra Times spoke to on Thursday were in favour of paid parking being introduced to the Parliamentary Triangle from July next year.
"Yes, we have to grow up and have paid parking like other cities," Mrs Rayner said.
"It's really sad we've got to have paid parking, but it's inevitable. It's such a concentrated area of people who are using the area for different reasons, some for part of the day, some for all of the day. I think there has to be some capacity for the rest of Australia who have come all this way to see all the things they want to see."
Monica Summers, of Giralang, who couldn't find a park at Questacon but did get one easily at the National Library so she could go biking around the lake with her daughter Jacinta, 8, also believed there should be plenty of free spaces for visitors. A limited amount of free on-street parking will be provided for up to one hour under the plan.
However, student Miss Coronel wasn't so sure paid parking would be the answer, suggesting more underground parking was the way to go.
And, of course, Thursday's mirage of ample parking did not last long.
Shay-Ley Scalora, of Higgins, circled the National Library and Questacon carparks for 15 minutes, increasingly frustrated as she tried to find a park so she could get to work in the Questacon cafe.
Her verdict on finding as park in the Parliamentary Triangle?
"Mum is coming with a friend to pick up my car because I'm in two-hour parking and I have to work until five o'clock," she said, exasperated.