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The word on the street

Canberra may be turning a ripe old 100, but BMA Magazine, Canberra’s long-time street mag, is celebrating a more modest milestone this year.

It’s just opened its first ever curated exhibition, Canberra at Street Level, to mark 21 years on the street. 

“The aim of the exhibition is to showcase BMA’s 21-year history, and concurrently the history of music and arts in the ACT – both the events that have sustained our publication and the events and music that led to its conception,” says editor Ashley Thomson.

“This is an event unequivocally dedicated to the people of Canberra.”

The show, at Canberra Contemporary Art Space at Gorman House until April 6, is “a chance to kick a can down memory lane”, with the space serving as a poster board for the many bands, shows, stories and successes of Canberra’s musical heritage.

For more information, visit


Mal’s backflip on the snip produces a miracle

Raiders legend Mal Meninga has shared photos of his new son with a women’s magazine to raise awareness of vasectomy reversal procedures.

Fifty-two-year-old Meninga and his wife, ex-Canberran Amanda, revealed their baby joy in this week’s issue of New Idea. According to the story, Elijah Henry Brooklyn Meninga was born on Valentine’s Day, tipped the scales at just over 2.5kgs and measured 50cm. “I had a vasectomy in 2000 after having two kids during my first marriage. I decided to have the reversal procedure. It was a no-brainer. I really understood Mandy’s desire to have a baby with me, and me with her,” he is quoted as saying. “He has my frown and the doctors and nurses couldn’t believe how big his feet and hands are!” The Maroons State of Origin coach, who still has a presence in Canberra thanks to numerous advertising deals, has two other grown-up children from his first marriage, while 42-year-old Amanda has a son from a previous relationship. The article has Meninga “citing Elijah’s arrival as a bigger highlight than even his 1989 grand final win with the Canberra Raiders – when the team sealed victory in the dying stages of extra time”. Luckily the tough ex-Australian Test captain appears to be more at ease with parenthood than politics, and seems to have put his 28-second political career behind him. According to Amanda, the tough centre and second-rower is an attentive, hands-on father who regularly carries out the midnight feeds, pops to the shops and changes nappies. The couple married in Mexico last September when Amanda was 14 weeks pregnant. When contacted by The Canberra Times, a New Idea spokesperson said no details of the exclusive magazine deal could be divulged or syndicated.

Stacks of style with local flavour

You know it’s something special when we’re getting all excited about new colours. Bison Homewares, one of Canberra’s great success stories, is launching its autumn/winter range this weekend at the flagship store and workshop at Pialligo. The shapes of the bowls, vases and other homewares have been mainstays of many households in Canberra – and even Sydney and Melbourne since the brand opened stores there – but creator Brian Tunks says Bison has undergone a year of changes. “While creating a new collection of forms – with a subtle Canberra association... I’ve added a palette of lush rich red (Berry) Key Lime (bright citrus) Indigo, Leaf and Stormcloud,” he says. “As a company known for glazes that look good enough to eat, Bison has amped up their va-va-voom to create a colour wheel which would tempt most tastes.” Even if you remain devoted to the originals, this weekend will be a chance to see the evolving range. Today and tomorrow, from 10am-4.30pm, Tunks will be on hand to discuss layering colour and shapes, and “how mixing media can make a home less ‘colour-by-numbers’ and more of an individual statement”.

Zine Emporium

Other than Summernats, it’s not often that a festival gets people heading to Canberra from all over Australia to attend. But the first CanberraZine Emporium, happening in Civic today, looks set to buck that trend. It’s part of the You Are Here cross-arts festival, and will bring together zine makers and collectors for the day in Civic’s Rabaul Lane. And, surmises Yolande Norris, co-producer of the festival, most people wouldn’t even know what a zine is. “They’re independent, self-made, handmade publications,” she says. “Often, they’re all about all sorts of subjects and all sorts of forms, usually using very tactile ways of being produced, so lots of photocopying and collage and this sort of thing.” The fair, like all zine fairs, will involve all sorts of zine enthusiasts getting together to present, swap or give away their products. Norris says Canberra has never had an ongoing zine event, so this has been a long time coming. “There’s definitely demand out there, but it’s high time we had a Canberra zine get together,” she says. “What’s been amazing is that it’s not just the Canberrans who are interested, but we have so many interstaters coming, and even some people from New Zealand as well. People are coming from Perth, from Adelaide, from Melbourne, Sydney – zine-makers are definitely up for travelling for these get-togethers.” As well as the chance to pick up some zines for your own new or continuing collection, there’ll also be live music, workshops and coffee to keep you going. Although zines have come and gone over the years – they had a big presence before the advent of blogging, for instance – Norris recently discovered that they’ve actually been around since the 1930s. “They came into prominence in a big way in the 70s, with punk and feminist zines, so they’ve been around for a while and they keep on going strong despite the internet,” she says. “If you’ve never heard of or seen a zine, you’ll know all about them after tomorrow. And if you’re a fan, you’ll be just over the moon.” The CanberraZine Emporium is on today (Saturday) at Rabaul Lane from 11am-4pm.

Canberra – shaken and stirred

If ever there was a time and a place to celebrate the martini, it’s Canberra in its centenary year. At least, that’s the thinking of Phillip Jones, the self-described “social entrepreneur” who is at this moment dreaming up a Centenary Martini, and event at which to launch it. And it’s so much more than just a cocktail. He’ll be meeting with Centenary Creative Director Robyn Archer next week to nut out the event, and he’s already collaborating with a local glass artist who will be creating a one-off martini set that will be auctioned off on the night for charity. Local designers Goosebumps are sponsoring the design and production of a martini factsheet, as well as pocket-sized recipe cards, and Jones has tracked down Australian gin and vermouth suppliers (the latter rarer than you’d think) who are keen to be part of the event. He’s even planning a trip to Dalgety – the town which lost to Canberra as a contender for capital city – to get some water from the Snowy Mountains, which he’ll purify to use as ice. Hippo Bar will be hosting the event, and local performers will be dancing the Charleston. Could it get any more hip? The only thing Jones doesn’t have yet is a date for the event, so stayed tuned and keep up to date on Twitter, via @canberramartini.

Gardening by numbers

We’ve spent all these months arguing over what we do or don’t like about Canberra, so how about we narrow the field: what do we like about the Australian National Botanic Gardens? Anyone who’s ever been there – most of you, I hope – will know that there are at least 100 things, if not more, to love about the country’s largest collection of native plants, lying serenely at the base of Black Mountain. The gardens are having their own centenary celebration, having launched their own Facebook campaign, 100 things to do at the Australian National Botanic Gardens, reminding residents and showing newcomers all the different experiences on offer at the gardens. From enjoying the beauty and diversity of plants from all over Australia to picnicking with friends, taking guided walks or spying on water dragons, new ideas will be posted each week on the Gardens’ Facebook page as inspiration to Canberrans and interstate visitors. “There are so many wonderful things to see and do here at the gardens all year round so we thought we would pick our top 100 and announce them week by week for the entire centenary year,” marketing manager Julie Akmacic says. So far, the list includes things like “see the magnificent Corymbia ficifolia (dwarf orange) in flower”, “cool down and feel the mist as you wander through the Rainforest Gully” and “see your favourite latest release, classic and art house films while in the great outdoors”. To see what’s listed on the 100 things to do at the Australian National Botanic Gardens, or to post your own ideas click here.