6 things you never knew about Canberra’s history

Posted 22 Mar 2019

Story by NCA

While many may know Canberra as the compromise for a capital between the competing states of Victoria and New South Wales, few know the ‘secrets’ it holds, many of which are held in plain sight.

Here’s six places which tell the Canberra – and Australian – story, on display for all to see and explore.

National Capital Exhibition

Unlock Canberra’s secrets at the National Capital Exhibition. Discover the people behind this planned city’s design, the Griffins, and the events that make this modern city truly unique.

Blundells Cottage

“A symbolic foil for the majesty of the Parliament House opposite”, Blundells Cottage is a stone dwelling that housed George Blundell, a Duntroon bullock driver and his family between 1874-1933. The Cottage was built around 1860 from stone taken from Mount Ainslie and Black Mountain and is a complement to the pastoral and rural landscape that was Canberra prior to being selected as the nation’s capital.

The Cottage is open Saturdays for visits and offers a unique opportunity to step back in time and glimpse at what life would have been like in Canberra’s only pre-Federal Capital building in the National Triangle.

Anzac Parade

Anzac Parade was officially opened on 25 April 1965 to coincide with the 50th Anniversary of the Anzac landing in Gallipoli. Anzac is the name given to the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps soldiers who landed on the Gallipoli Peninsula on 25 April 1915.

The national capital’s major ceremonial avenue is set along the Land Axis which forms a key feature of the original 1912 plan for Canberra by Walter Burley Griffin.

The parade is easily distinguishable, especially when viewed from Mt Ainslie. The red gravel (some say symbolising blood) and the mixed plantings of Australian blue gums (Eucalyptus bicostata) and New Zealand Hebe species is the element which links the parliamentary area to the northern lakeshore.

Many pay tribute to the lives lost as a result of war by making the pilgrimage to the Australian War Memorial and the various memorials which line the Parade

Australian of the Year Walk

The Australians of the Year Walk along the Lake Burley Griffin foreshore, designed by the National Capital Authority, comprises a series of plinths, seats and lighting. While you may have spotted the names and faces of those who have been honoured with these Awards over the years, you may not have known that the plinths are arranged to correspond to the musical note position to the score of Advance Australia Fair.

The Centenary of Women’s Suffrage Commemorative Fountain

The Centenary of Women’s Suffrage Commemorative Fountain is located at the Members’ Gate of the House of Representatives Garden, within a walkway that links Old Parliament House to Constitution Place. The floor and walls of the water feature are lined with tens of thousands of glass mosaic tiles individually placed by mosaic artist Mary Stuart, while the border of the water feature records the passage of the Franchise Act (Cth) in 1902 and the commemoration of the 1903 election (in which women voted and stood for Parliament for the first time).

A timeline extends from the water feature within the pavement under a wisteria covered pergola towards Constitution Place. Along the timeline are recorded the milestones and significant achievements of women in Federal Parliament. The timeline is created using the same tiles as used in the fountain.

A serene place, the Commemorative Fountain offers an opportunity to reflect upon the milestones this movement has seen over the decades.

Reconciliation Place

Ngunna yerrabi yanggu is a traditional welcome to Ngunnawal country meaning ‘(you may) walk on this country now’.

On 22 May 2000, as a symbol of the Government’s commitment to the ongoing reconciliation process, Prime Minister, the Hon John Howard MP announced that a ‘reconciliation square’ (as it was then called) would be constructed in the National Capital. On 7 December 2000 he then announced that Reconciliation Place would be constructed in the Parliamentary Zone. It was an essential requirement of the design competition that an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person formed part of the design team.

The site is at the junction of Walter Burley Griffin’s Land Axis and the pedestrian cross-axes between the National Library of Australia to the west, and the High Court of Australia to the east. The selection of this location places the reconciliation process physically and symbolically at the heart of Australian democratic and cultural life.

Comprising of 17 artworks, Reconciliation Place is brimming with rich cultural significance. Take part in a guided walk to discover more about these artworks.

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