Secret City connections

Posted 15 Aug 2019

Story by CBR Canberra

Set amidst the suspense and political intrigue of Secret City is a real scene-stealer. With her glamour, whimsy and captivation, she takes the collective viewer’s breath away. She goes by the stage and screen name, Canberra.

Worthy of an early mention in the closing credits, Canberra is arguably as much a central character of Secret City as the astute journalist, Harriet Dunkley.

Setting a sometimes moody, sometimes glorious, backdrop, Canberra features throughout the two seasons of acclaimed television series, Secret City. You’ll see regular glimpses of the halls of Parliament House, aerial shots of Telstra Tower and the Brindabella Ranges, plus an array of recognisable locales across the city.

Let’s explore where Canberra shines in Secret City and how you can explore these many absorbing locations for yourself on your next visit.

An aerial view of Canberra, including Lake Burley Griffin, Commonwealth Avenue Bridge, Acton Peninsula and the city.

Lake of mystery

Shots from the air show Lake Burley Griffin angling its way throughout the city. You can view its form and beauty for yourself from a hot air balloon or helicopter ride. Or enjoy it from a Segway, bicycle or take a bridge-to-bridge walk using the pathways.

There are plenty of ways to explore from the water, including a cruise or on a GoBoat. For the early starters, you’ll see locals warming up in their kayaks and dragon boats.

Be sure to pop across the bridge to Aspen Island where you can see and hear the National Carillon. It’s a handy meeting place for a picnic (or to exchange intel) and regularly chimes its bells for all to hear.

Shine Dome, Australian Academy of Science ANU, aerial image of Canberra. Photo: Chris Holly

A place of learning

In the first season, the campus of world-leading Australian National University is featured. The uni precinct includes restaurants, theatres and galleries, plus excellent heritage, architecture and landscape tours.

Not far away is the iconic Shine Dome, which stealthily appears in the opening frame. The intriguing 60-year-old dome is part of the Academy of Science and is recognised on the National Heritage List. You can only access it by attending a public science talk or hosting a function there.

Covert dining vibes

Highly regarded Otis Dining Hall plays host to parliamentary diners in the second season of Secret City Under the Eagle. You too can experience the ambience and delicious mid-week tasting menus, and maybe spot a politician or two while you’re there.

The ultra-cool NewActon precinct epitomises ‘one good thing after another’ with its chic design, energising cafes and restaurants, and intimate spots to meet for a cocktail, such as the lavish Parlour. Stay close by in one of the many quality hotels in the area.

See democracy in action at Australia’s iconic Parliament House high on Capital Hill. Photo: Stuart Miller

Walk the halls

While Secret City gained access to parts of Parliament House not normally open to the public, there are still many amazing areas to visit, including the Great Hall, regular exhibitions and Question Time (when Parliament is sitting).

The Australian War Memorial’s spacious and insightful galleries, as well as surrounding gardens, were also featured on the show. As was the National Gallery of Australia’s grand spaces, which are filled with famous Australian and international works.

Guided tours are available at most national attractions so you too can walk the halls of power, while gaining insights into the culture and history of these inspiring locations.

Diplomatic missions

Canberra is home to nearly 80 embassies, representing nations from Mexico to Thailand. Beyond the intrigue of diplomatic negotiations, you can visit many of the embassies to see the stunning architecture and gardens. From 12–20 October 2019, embassies and high commissions are holding open days, tours and performances as part of Windows to the World.

And ever wondered about the eagle statue featured on Secret City? It is a 73-metre-tall Australian-American Memorial in the forecourt of the Defence offices in Russell. It was opened in 1954 and has two murals at its base. A sculpture of an American Eagle sits on top.

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