Happy 100th birthday to Canberra, Australia’s capital! Canberra’s Foundation stone was laid on March 12, 2013 by Governor General Lord Denman, Prime Minister Andrew Fisher and Minister of Home Affairs King O’Malley, and Lady Denman announced the name of the new capital as ‘Canberra’, to great cheering from the crowd. Canberra has had plenty of critics over the years, that it’s a fake city, pedestrian unfriendly and dull.
But at times when Canberrans (and interstate visitors like me) emerge from their bolt-holes and fill up those wonderful public spaces and avenues, Canberra really comes into its own. I spent the past weekend enjoying many of the events of the Canberra 100 Birthday Bash (thanks Kerrin and Gordon).
The Parliamentary Triangle precinct, often strangely silent and empty, was thronging with crowds enjoying the bizarre and hugely entertaining Box Wars, the spectacular lighting of many prominent buildings and the Parisian boulevard outside the National Gallery, complete with cafe, chandeliers and French-style music.
At last I got to see Canberra’s layout and landscape design used in the way Walter and Marion Burley Griffin had imagined. And the best part about that is that although it’s crowded, in Canberra you can expect to be able to get into see things and be a part of it. I’ve found that my home city of Sydney has become so huge that a single community event is either impossible to get near for the crowds or, if it’s ticketed, you have to know to go in a ballot for tickets months beforehand. Consequently we’ve given up going to most big events like the NYE fireworks, as taking 2 hours to get home by train just takes too much shine off the fun.
But in Canberra, everything is possible and the 100th celebrations are not over yet, with festivities right through 2013. If you can get through the impenetrable maze of the 100 Canberra website you’re bound to find plenty to see and do, like next weekend’s fabulous Sky Fire fireworks.
Happy birthday Canberra. You’re wearing it very well.