I more than understand that at the moment, we all have to sacrifice doing some of the things we love. It’s heartbreaking to not be able to go and see and hug my family, friends and tiny niece who now just knows me as a floating head on a screen, but I’m happy to do it for the greater good. I’m not complaining that I can’t go to any of my favourite restaurants or bars (although most of them are doing a ripper takeaway offering). And while I always work from home, I’ve happily given up half my workspace to accommodate my partner, who has now set up shop (read: taken over) my normal office space.
But this week, we’ve had something else taken away from us, for no real good reason. The National Capital Authority announced that walkers, runners and cyclists must now go around Lake Burley Griffin clockwise to support social distancing measures and help stop the spread of COVID-19. Head down to LBG now and you’re met with signs that encourage you to travel in a clockwise direction around the central basin.
I think limiting travelling around the lake to one direction is a great idea to help us all keep our distance. But let’s be honest, any sane Canberran knows that the far superior LBG loop is in the anti clockwise direction.
Let’s start with the most obvious reason: in Australia, we keep to the left. Tackle the bridge to bridge walk anti-clockwise, and this means you have front row seats to the beautiful lake the whole way around. You don’t have to manoeuvre to avoid cyclists and runners trying to cross your path to exit along the way, it’s just smooth sailing. And when it comes to the Commonwealth and Kings Avenue bridge crossings, I can tell you I’d rather be on the lake side than risk an arm being taken off by an Action Bus while trying to avoid an overzealous cyclist zipping past.
Then there are the views. It doesn’t matter where you stand or which direction you’re facing by the lake, you’re in for a visual treat. But to really enjoy them, anti-clockwise is the winner. You can’t beat that iconic view of Parliament House when you’re walking south across the Commonwealth Avenue bridge. Walk the other way, and you’re just staring at an odd mound of grass (ie City Hill). Down at the other end, walking north across the Kings Avenue bridge is the best way, in my opinion, to take in the National Carillon in all her glory. It’s also the only direction where you also get to marvel at the Chook on a Stick, if that’s your jam.
And then there’s the worst part of the loop: Rond Terrace. No matter what kind of measures I employ, I always manage to get that annoying red gravel in my shoes, ruining what is otherwise such a pleasant journey. But when you’re walking anticlockwise and sticking to the left, there’s actually a narrow concrete reprieve so you can make it across the stretch gravel-free.
Also, it’s worth noting that at athletics tracks around the world, athletes always travel in an anti-clockwise direction. Now science is far from my thing, but surely it proves it’s just universally the right way to travel.
It doesn’t seem like this clockwise directive is something they’re actually going to enforce and fine people for, although I do know of at least one person yesterday who was issued a caution when they continued to live their truth and ran anti-clockwise around the lake. Maybe in the meantime, find an oval you can circumnavigate in an anticlockwise direction so all remains right with the world, and dream of the days when we’ll all be able to go around the lake again in the correct direction.