Unique jobs that make Canberra tick

Posted 1 Jan 2017

Story by CBR Canberra

With a diverse economy and a range of jobs across a spectrum of industries, we proudly boast the very best job opportunities that are distinctively Canberran.

Many of these jobs involve operating some of the city’s (and Australia’s) iconic cultural institutions. Off the beaten path they may be, but they are all influential occupations that contribute to the amazing culture of the city.

Here’s top five most unique jobs in the nation’s capital:

  1. Master of the green thumb, Floriade’s Head Gardener: Andrew Forster


One of Canberra’s most iconic events, Floriade showcases the best of the city through a floral extravaganza. The international success of Floriade wouldn’t happen without the meticulous work of Floriade Head Gardner, Andrew Forster.

As the Head of a team of 25 gardeners, Forster ensures everything is on track for the festival and aesthetically pleasing. It is a huge job, and one of Canberra’s most important.

Preparation for Floriade’s garden design starts around eight months before the event. With the help of his team, Forster marks out the garden bed patterns and digs out all the pathways. The first bulbs are planted in early April and continue until the end of May.

In 2016, Forster celebrated his 19th year in the job, while the festival celebrated 29.

  1. Our very own Ragnar Lothbrok, Victor the Viking: Tony Wood

The Canberra Raiders have a proud history in the region, dominating the rugby league competition in the late 80’s and early 90’s. But that’s not the only they are famous for. Their mascot, Victor the Viking aka Tony Wood, has been just as impressive

Amazingly, Tony has donned the outfit for the past 33 years, amassing over 600 games since the very beginning in 1983.

Anyone who has attended a Raiders home game would have seen Victor the Viking rousing the home crowd, a role that Wood prides himself on. Indeed, Wood maintains that nothing could beat the entertainment and smile he has brought to fans’ faces throughout his multiple years of service.

  1. Flying the flag, Parliament House Flag Technician: Matt Brown


Parliament House stands as the central point of Australian government, with the Australian flag perched high on the rooftop as a symbol of national pride. The man that is responsible for raising and dropping the flag is Matt Brown.

Brown, a mechanic fitter by trade, has been completing this duty for the past 19 years with the assistance of a few others.

The whole process requires the combination of both strength and skill. Two workers travel by a specially designed mechanic lift, up the metal beams to the base of the flag pole and then exit onto a metal grate hanging above the Parliament House rooftop.

From there the pair unloads the 25 kilogram precious cargo and clip it onto the halyard, ready for the hoist. Two other workers, positioned on a separate platform below, have the real muscle job of winching the flag up and down the 20-metre flag pole.

The whole process takes about half-an-hour and by the time the flag is at the top of the flagpole it is flying 81 metres above the Parliamentary rooftop.

  1. Full of hot air, Chief Pilot and Director, Balloon Aloft: John Wallington


Another quintessential Canberra sight is the early morning flight of a hot-air balloon over Lake Burley Griffin. The balloons have become a constant in the skies of Canberra, and have etched their way into the culture of the city.

The chief pilot and director of this hot air balloon service, Balloon Aloft, is John Wallington.

Wallington has been flying hot air balloons since 1986. A previous national hot air balloon champion, he his best known for his record breaking nonstop trans-Australian balloon flight in 1993 and the trans-Tasman flight in 2000.

Balloon Aloft was started in 1986 by Wallington’s family and the company remains a locally-owned Canberran organisation. It has made huge contributions to Canberra’s tourism industry, providing some of the greatest views of the capital from above.

  1. Freak-a-licious, Café Owners of ‘Pâtissez’: Anna and Gina Petridis

freak shakes

Pâtissez café in Manuka is not your everyday café.

Pâtissez is home to the internationally-acclaimed ‘Freakshakes’ – indulgent milkshakes piled with brownies, cookies or slabs of cake. These concoctions went globally viral through social media, bringing instant fame and large queues in 2015.

Owners Anna and Gina Petridis, previously contestants on the television show My Kitchen Rules, have since expanded internationally opening new stores in Singapore and Canberra. Through the birth of the ‘Freakshake’, the Petridis’ have played a key role in putting Canberra on the culinary map.

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