Now Playing: Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains) by Arcade Fire (sometimes I wonder if the world's so small, then we can never get away from sprawl)
Both Canberrans and Perthians seem to operate under the impression that Canberra and Perth are fairly interchangable, in that they're both small boring isolated places treated with equal disdain by potential tourists and locals alike. But, to paraphrase Tolstoy, all exciting cities are alike, and each boring shithole is boring and shitty in its own special way (I'm an English student, we're great at paraphrasing). I've been living here for six months now, and here are the examples to suggest that Canberra and Perth are not clones divided by the inhospitable desert.
1. Perth is bigger.
Perth is small. Everyone knows that. Every disgruntled disillusioned suburban Perth child knows that. But Perth is 2 million people small and Canberra is 380,000 people small. You begin to appreciate things like actually having a city centre (a shopping centre doesn't count) and the glories of Transperth-facilitated shenanigans when you move to a teacup. For what it's worth, despite frequent trips to Melbourne and Sydney via the Greyhound, Canberrans don't seem to think that Canberra is small, but Perthians will tell all and sundry about how claustrophobic and monotonous Perth is.
2. Canberra feels impermanent.
Canberra is, for the most part, students and politicians. Everyone here is from somewhere else, and almost nobody plans to stay here forever because quite frankly that's a terrifying prospect that I refuse to entertain for my own sanity. Part of the oppressive joy of Perth is that it really feels like a place where people are born and live and die whilst the rest of the world pretends that Australia is All The Sydney All The Time.
3. I goeth down, I yelleth Tinder
I was a happy single pringle in Perth. Every semester break we would 'go out', which was really just a euphemism for 'get laid'. I met my partner on Tinder and met everyone else at uni parties and/or on sleazy dance floors. The beach plus the mining boom plus the aggressive anti-intellectualism does tend to attract colourful characters from around the world, and Teenage Me loved all the pro-Brexit/country bumpkin/borderline insane weirdos with the cool accents.
Here I'm practically falling over hand-holdy, face-licky couples, although I might be biased somewhat by the fact that I'm still in the 'everything is a lie unless its pasta' part of the breakup, and I live on top of a bubble tea establishment. Still. Dating here is a thing in a way that it wasn't a thing in Perth, or at least it seemed very optional and just another part of the buffet rather than the set menu. Speaking of food, people here don't eat by themselves. Treating myself was an activity in Perth but an anxiety attack here. Every time I try and eat out on own hairy emancipated don't need no man feminist lonesome I'm treated like some kind of leper, including the nice lady putting my plate of pad thai in front of Mr Imaginary across the table from me.
4. Canberra is prettier.
The lake. The mountains. The strategically planned city planning and the fucking arboreteum. Is pretty. Is pretty, okay? I'll give you that. I mean, Perth has a beach, and 'Acton Beach' is 300% Not A Beach, but there's only so many times you can consent to brining yourself and slowly rotating over the hot sand like a rotisserie chicken before you lose the plot.
5. Canberra is the well-connected cousin
I've driven to Sydney and Thredbo from Canberra with no more inconvenience than packing an overnight bag. Drive in any direction from Perth and all you'll get to is Nowhere, Middle Of the Ocean, or Halfway to Singapore. Then again Canberra uses its neighbours as a crutch - anything Canberra doesn't have, you can just nip off to Sydney. It's not like Perth can rely on Bunbury for anything.
6. Perth is the better wannabe
Both Perth and Canberra are Melbourne Wannabes, but Perth does it slightly better. I am biased, because I like ramen, and Canberra doesn't do ramen.
7. Canberra seems more family friendly
But I am not the Virgin Mary.
8. CANBERRA IS FUCKING FREEZING
WHAT IS WITH THIS WEATHER. I CAN'T DEAL. PERTH MIGHT NOT HAVE A DISCERNABLE AUTUMN BUT ASIDE FROM THE GREAT HAILSTORM OF 2010 THE WEATHER DOESN'T TRY TO KILL YOU
(8a. In Canberra's defence, Perth summers are unbearable. A city that close to Antartica should not be so fuckin hot.)
9. Bagging on Perth is so fun all the Perthians join in
Moaning about Perth is a favourite Perth pastime. 99% of the whinging about Perth is by people who live there. Canberrans seem a tad too attached to Canberra for this baffled Perthian.
10. Perthians are much better at whinging.
Perthians whine. All the time. But whining gets shit done. We can't fly to Sydney every time we want dim sum or ramen, so we have our own. You can't walk ten steps without running in to a Mecca, of which Canberra only has ONE, and it isn't even a Maxima. Canberra would get better if Canberrans learned the art of the whinge.