First and foremost, Nah, it’s Canberra is based on, and in the country of the Ngunnawal people, as such I would like to acknowledge the Ngunnawal people who are the traditional custodians of the land and pay my respects to the Elders of the Ngunnawal Nation both past, present and emerging.
What Nah, It’s Canberra is
Nah, It's Canberra started out life as a Tumblr blog in 2012.
It became an Instagram account in 2020.
And now it is a full-colour, page-turnable, front- and back-covered book!
In simple terms, Nah is a picture of a place with a caption and a revelation.
From 2011 to 2021, as I moved around Canberra I would see a view and it would remind me of somewhere – from a movie, from tv, from art, from real life, from somewhere else that I imagined it could be.
My own self-generated déjà vu.
I’d take the picture with my iPhone and then google its description (this was pre-google image search days). Sometimes I would find nothing. Or I would find something vaguely related and then research deeper until I was satisfied with the reference and caption accuracy.
I published the images on Tumblr, a 'microblogging' site that seemed to me, to have a slightly less polished and more 'anything goes' sensibility. Exactly what I was after.
Who made it
Me, Mel Edwards. A kiwi who moved to Canberra in 2011 for work.
I had never really taken a photograph before 2011 - plenty of bad ones - but with my iPhone and the ease of getting around Canberra I discovered I wasn't too bad.
For 10 years I was a service design consultant at a two-person agency, Design Managers Australia. My business partner, Justin, was a Canberran born and bred (via Queanbeyan). Our work was for government and in the community sectors so I was privileged to be a part of, and to truly see all of Canberra. I reckon 70% of the images were taken when we were working, cycling, socialising, work commuting and with his family, the Baz-Sacs who in the first years exposed me to places normal to them but amazing to me.
10% of the images I can connect to my friends Behzad and Catherine - also Canberra born-and-bred - who shared with me all the National Parks, emerging Gungahlin landscapes and kid's areas and playgrounds as their family grew and they moved from Tuggers to Gunners....See how I learned the lingo?!
I also learned about Inner/Outer South and North, the goat’s cheese curtain, the aversion to driving too far from your ‘burb, that everyone outside of Canberra thinks it always cold all year round.
Canberra is a much maligned place - by people who do and don’t live there. When I would be out of town and people asked where I lived and I said ‘Canberra’ the look of pity or aversion made me, …well it made me kinda mad! As if the place name and it’s political connection dismissed or erased the existence of people making their lives there, growing there, moving there, having enjoyable times, having challenging times, and having an amazing international art collection for goodness sake! And the food options!!!....just...quite incredible! And some good coffee - special nod to 7 Lonsdale Street Roasters - I went there 5 days a week for 10 years, sometimes more than once a day! Good times, best coffee....I digress...
This challenge to perception really drove me to want to capture the vast array of places and spaces I was seeing and publish them.
Who Nah, It’s Canberra is for
- People who like to see Canberra represented as a place people actually live.
- People who used to live here and miss the place.
- People who live in Canberra and can't really see the place in any other way, but want to. That includes people who live in Canberra and don't realise how rich and full and light and dark and cool and scary it is.
- People who are preparing to move to Canberra for school or work.
- People who love Canberra but not the Canberra that resides in the Triangle/Bubble.
- People who like architecture
- People who may have studied art history, movies and film
- People like the above who think people they know would enjoy or benefit from seeing this town, this way.
If you like Nah, for more local views on Instagram you should also check out:
And even though it's an oldie now this video is still accurate and genuinely hilarious.