1. You don’t wear your trackie dacks (or pyjamas) to Woolies
You know what I’m talking about. You’re dressed in your old tracksuit pants, greasy hair scraped back in a bun, it’s 9pm on a school night and you think ‘I’ll just duck down to Woolies, pretty sure I won’t run into anyone’. Yeah right.
Guaranteed you’ll either run into an ex-teacher, seven former school acquaintances you couldn’t stand, your nan’s best friend or someone you met while reporting for The Queanbeyan Age in 1997 (some things never change).
And it’s even worse if you head down to do your grocery shopping on a Sunday arvo. Good luck getting your Coco Pops and two-minute noodles in the trolley before being bailed up by 117 people you know.
PRO-TIP: Dress nicely to head to Woolies or Riverside. A bitchy friend of mine wears headphones so people feel like they can’t approach her. It works.
2. Ziggy’s Gift
Ah, the Queanbeyan Whites tradition that’s almost caused more than a few accidents in Monaro Street.
Ziggy’s Gift is a Whites institution, named after former player Graham ‘Ziggy’ Pohl, who randomly decided to undress on Mad Sunday in 1997 and duck from the Tourist over to Walsh’s for a quick schooner - in the buff.
The ‘gift’ is awarded to a Whites club member who’s had a great year and shown extreme loyalty and love for the club. Ziggy himself used to award the ‘gift’ but now it’s up to the incumbent to name the recipient.
Ziggy’s Gift was a main street spectacle until 2010, but nowadays the Whites drink at the Harmonie German Club in Narrabundah on Mad Sunday and the ‘gift’ is performed sneakily out the back.
3. The ‘50 Cent flats’ are a stunning example of Queanbeyan architecture
Some call it an eyesore. But I call it Queanbeyan’s piece de la resistance of modernist architecture. The hexagonal shaped building of flats at 18 Trinculo Place in Queanbeyan, built in stunning light and dark brown brick, is surely the most iconic location to live in Q-Town.
The person who’s lucky enough to live in the penthouse has stunning views of the river, Ye Olde Kent Hotel and right into the Leagues Club bistro windows. #winning
4. Karabar pizzas make the best Sunday night dinner
Family sized pizza with the lot please boss!
Forget the nightmare that is the Domino’s car park and no need to bother with Crust - there’s only one pizza joint in town that has Queanbeyan in its hearts: Karabar Takeaway.
And with the deep friers just a stone’s throw away from the pizza oven, it’s perfect for when you feel like a pizza and the missus feels like a Chiko Roll for dinner on a lazy Sunday night.
5. The smell of sewage near the caravan park
It’s probably the worst welcome to Queanbeyan you can get - the smell of raw sewage just as you turn into our stunning Riverside Tourist Park.
The poor park is located directly opposite the Queanbeyan Sewage Treatment Plant, meaning visitors can enjoy sitting in a camp chair on the banks of our beautiful river, while smelling the horrific result of too much chili sauce on last night’s meat and three veg.
As kids, we’d all groan, fake dry retch and quickly wind up the windows (manually) every time we drove past it. Still do!
6. The youth of today will never understand how good Raiders Nightclub was
Where to begin? The DJ box in the air. Bars stocked full of West Coast Coolers and Sub Zeros (the drinks of choice in the early 90s). And sneaky dark corners with black leather lounges where anything could (and did) happen.
Located upstairs at the Queanbeyan Leagues Club, Raiders Nightclub was the quintessential ‘Queanbeyan in the 90s venue’ - teased fringes, culottes, bodysuits and The Proclaimers on repeat singing 500 Miles.
The architecture was so progressive. Think industrial exposed metal beams - fashioned by an apprentice off Yass Road of course - with two bars: a main bar for the oldies and a smaller, side bar for the young’uns.
You’d stumble to Raiders after a few bevvies at the Roos Club or the Union Club (the UNION CLUB - remember that?!) and somehow make your way up a giant carpeted stairway to the first floor.
Every month or so Raiders would draw a big name act like Suzi Quatro, John Farnham, Rodney Rude or Barnesy. One time UK band Roachford even played. They’d advertise upcoming acts on the side of the Leagues Club on a digital LED sign. It was kind of the best.
Many nightclubs came after Raiders - Platinum nightclub at the RSL Club and Level One at The Royal - but none ever came close.
7. The Queanbeyan High vs Karabar rivalry
The QHS/Karabar rivalry started way back in 1977 when Queanbeyan suddenly became a two high school town. From sporting challenges to debating to academic results, the maroon v brown feud has also manifested in fist fights down at the Crawford Street bus exchange.
Even when united as a ‘best of Queanbeyan front’ - like at regional swimming events and meet-and-greets with local politicians - it’s always ‘us’ and ‘them’. Few words are spoken, dirty looks are exchanged.
As the former school captain of Queanbeyan High and with a teenage daughter who now attends (and loves) Karabar High, I’m happy to say I’ve (reluctantly) accepted that both schools have their place in Quangers.
8. A tale of two bowlos
Now let me be clear. If you’re heading out for a few beverages at ‘the bowlo’ and you’re inviting a mate, you need to be very VERY specific about which bowlo you’re headed to. There are two: Yass Road and Campbell Street. (Do not ever refer to them as the Queanbeyan RSL Memorial Bowling Club or the Queanbeyan Bowling Club, people will have no idea what you’re talking about).
And if you accidentally head to the wrong bowlo, you’re stuffed. With a distance of 3.1km between them, you can’t even stumble from one to the other.
9. Nic’s is the greatest corner store of all time
Need to post a letter? Need a refreshing beverage while walking down Morton Street to the Queanbeyan Pool? Need a few free chicos to get you through your day? Need to hear a big smiling ‘How are yooooou’ in Nic’s fantastic thick Greek accent?
Nic’s corner store on Morton Street has it all. Nic has owned the store for more than 30 years and while you can no longer hire videos from the shelves of iconic shop you can still get a cold chocolate Paddle Pop!
10. You can’t beat a Pasha’s Kebab at midnight
If you didn’t go to Pasha’s after a night out in Queanbeyan, did you really have a night out in Queanbeyan?
So you’ve partied all night to Night Train at Walsh’s or a DJ who reluctantly played Mambo No. 5 for you and your girlfriends at the Royal and now you’re in need of some nourishment before you hit the sack. Say hello to Pasha’s, Lebanese cuisine that lovingly stays open late to feed Queanbeyan’s ravished party crowd. Chicken kebab with extra meat and garlic sauce please, hold the tomatoes.
11. The suspension bridge is creepy AF
Sure, it’s fun to rock the bridge from side to side and try to trip your friends up during the day, but have you ever been to the suspension bridge at night? It’s creepy as HELL. Nichole Overall’s Mysterious Queanbeyan ghost tour purposely stops on the bridge to tell the story of a girl who made friends with a ghost on the bridge. And the bridge was the site of an horrific murder in 2008.
You know the only thing creepier than the suspension bridge? Cantle’s Cottage, the fire-damaged house on the east bank of the river, just metres from the bridge. Built in 1894, the house was the original home of one of Queanbeyan’s first families, the Cantles.
Apparently in the depths of night people have seen and heard Mrs Cantle in a rocking chair, soothing one of her babies to sleep. FREAKY.
12. A dip at Cascades will chill you to the bone
Queanbeyan is surrounded by beautiful swimming spots - think White Rocks and Jerra Water Hole - but if you need a chill that cuts through to the bone on a hot summer day, you can’t go past Cascades.
Located at the base of the Googong Dam wall, Cascades is a small swimming hole surrounded by alarmingly sharp rocks.
It’s one of those swimming holes that’s so cold you need to count down ‘3-2-1’ about eight million times before you’re game enough to jump in. Then, when you do jump in, you’re out again and clutching for a towel in about 30 seconds flat.
13. You bought your first CD at Hills Music
Not sure about you but I spent HOURS browsing the shelves at Hills’ as a teen, picking out new albums to listen to in my Toyota Corona. The first CD I bought there was Fashion Nugget by Cake (of Short Skirt, Long Jacket fame).
Hills Music was also a bit of a mecca for country music fans of the region. Many ‘in-stores’ (performances and CD signings) were held in the store on Monaro Street, including a very young country music singer with a whining, scratchy voice named Kasey Chambers in 2000.
14. Those three-way traffic intersections do your head in
Only because Canberra drivers don’t know how to use them! Guess what Mr ACT Driver - it’s just like a roundabout! You give way to your right!
But why do they all three-way intersections live in West Queanbeyan? The one where Morton Street meets Crest Road is a shocker but the Surveyor Street / Ross Road one is worse.
15. If Queanbeyan was a man, he’d be Terry
He goes by many names - the Cowboy, Tex (as in Texas) and The Man With the Boots. But his real name is Terry - you know the one, small and wirey with a big black Cowboy hat, black jeans and black cowboy boots with spurs.
He loves a chat, especially about world topics (he once bailed me up to talk about the millions of hectares being bulldozed in the Amazon every day) and his deep voice is very distinctive.
He’s an absolute legend and you’re most likely to find him at Riverside Plaza on a weekday. Although I hear he has swapped his cowboy shirt and jeans for an Adidas tracksuit.