Loves going out and about in Canberra and writing about her adventures! Also addicted to coffee, high teas, escape rooms, and dressing up.
Published July 14th 2018
Do the things you love and make new friends with Meetup
There's never a dull moment in Canberra. With so many wonderful places to eat and drink, plenty of festivals and events to go to, our world-class national institutions to visit, and so much bushland to explore, Canberrans are spoiled for choice when it comes to finding something to do on the weekend. And though you can do all of these exciting things by yourself or with your significant other, it's actually also very nice to share these moments with your friends, too.
But what if you don't have that friend or group of friends in Canberra to have a catch up over coffee with or to have high tea with at the Hyatt's Tea Lounge or to watch a roller derby game together with or feast on yummy curries at the World Curry Festival with or to go bushwalking together with?
When you're new in town, or if you've been here for a while but all your friends have left or moved on, or if your whole life has revolved around raising kids or looking after other family members, then making new friends can be hard.
Canberra can be a tough place to make new friends. With its transient population, people do tend to come here then go, especially if they work in the public service. And then there are the native Canberrans (yes, they do exist! My husband is one), who were born and bred here, but many of them already have their tight circle of friends (as my husband does).
As the American comedian Jerry Seinfeld said in the Seinfeld TV episode 'The Boyfriend', when you're in your thirties (even in your twenties, forties and fifties and beyond!), "it's very hard to make a new friend. Whatever the group is that you've got now that's who you're going with, you're not interviewing, you're not looking at any new people, you're not interested in seeing any applications." But when you're a child, Jerry continues, you can be friends with anybody. Jerry's right. My 4 year old son made a new best friend at Lollipops Playland the other day, and all they had to do to become best friends was to sit in the same teacup on the teacup ride.
Unfortunately for us adults, we don't become instant best friends with one another by sharing teacup rides at Lollipops. So how do you make new friends in Canberra?
Make friends with Meetup Created in the United States in 2002, Meetup is an online social networking site that brings people together in thousands of cities around the world. Meetup is made up of groups or 'meetups' which people create for many reasons, whether personal or professional. There are now over 300 000 meetups in the world, with over 35 million members.
How does Meetup work?
A meetup is created online via the Meetup website. But the interaction amongst members happens offline, face to face, in the real world. Depending on the purpose of the meetup, members can meet for dinner or breakfast, they can run together, play soccer or basketball, learn French, dance the tango, watch the latest movies, share their favourite scenes from the latest best-selling book, meditate, surf, play board games together, or even go camping together.
Each meetup has an organizer. The organizer manages the group and also hosts events for the group, whether it's a breakfast or a dinner or a walk with dogs or a Spanish language lesson. Other members can also choose to become Event Hosts which means they are responsible for hosting events as well, but technically all members of the meetup can host an event.
When hosting an event, the organizer or event host posts up on the website the activity that they'd like to do, and then interested members sign up to attend the activity. Then on the date of the activity, members meet face to face. So for example, an organizer for a social meetup could post up a breakfast meetup at a local café or a degustation dinner at a fancy restaurant, and in the weeks before the breakfast or dinner, interested members sign up on the website. Then on the day or night of the event, members meet (sometimes for the first time) at the location, share a lovely meal together and begin making new friendships!
How much does Meetup cost?
Members are not charged fees by Meetup to create a Meetup account on the Meetup website or to join a group or to go to events. But the organiser of a Meetup pays a subscription fee to Meetup to run the group. Sometimes organizers can collect small fees from members of their meetup just to help with the costs of running the group. And of course, members pay their own share of the event or activity that they attend.
What are the Meetups in Canberra?
There are many meetups in Canberra to choose from. You can join one or two or several, depending on your interests. Canberra meetups include Best of Canberra group, Canberra Small Mixed Meetup, Canberra Young Women, Camping Canberra, Canberra Street Soccer, Canberra Dog Walks meetup, the Canberra Korean Language and Culture meetup, Life Begins at 40, The Movie Group, Canberra Foodies Group, Canberra Indoor Rock Climbing, Canberra Twentysomethings, Canberra Vegan meetup, and Write Together Canberra. You could also start your own meetup!
I came to Canberra from Sydney in 2010. And yes, making new, lasting friendships was challenging. Of course, I didn't try to make new friends by sitting in a teacup ride at Lollipops! But I did want to make new friends, especially girlfriends. I didn't want to rely on my husband for all of my social needs. I enrolled in a bellydancing class and through that, I made a good friend called Christine, who also introduced me to Meetup. I'd never heard of Meetup before (not even when I was in Sydney) and since then, I've made many new friends and experienced so much of Canberra. Through Meetup, I've indulged in plenty of high teas, enjoyed lots of dinners, breakfasts, picnics and bushwalks, climbed a few mountains, watched some great live theatre and ballet, cruised and kayaked in Lake Burley Griffin, had a go at West African drumming, and escaped from escape rooms. Even now as a mum, I still go to Meetup events.
So if you're new in Canberra or if your friends have moved on and you're feeling lonely, then I encourage you to join Meetup.
I can't guarantee you'll hit it off right away with the person sitting next to you at a breakfast meetup or pizza lunch meetup, but I can guarantee that everyone attending that breakfast event or pizza lunch will be there for the same reason as you.