On this day back in 1985 I was in Canberra.
On the approach to Canberra we drove around Lake George, which due to lake of rain, had cattle and sheep grazing on the lake bed. Farmers had even put fences up across the land. No sign of water.
Canberra is a fascinating place. It was created at the beginning of the last century, midpoint between Melbourne and Sydney, due to rivalry between the two states. The ACT – Australian Capital Territory – was formed and the national capital city was designed following an international contest.
It is a city of circles, with roads built on a wheel and spoke design rather than a grid. The buildings, roads, trees and lakes all created on a limestone plain. It is an unusual city. Foreign countries have their embassies here, many of them built in their own traditional styles.
It is an open spacious city. The view from the War Memorial, down ANZAC Parade to Lake burley Griffith and across to the Parliament Building was a spectacular sight at night and in daylight. The War Memorial is thought provoking, part museum and part simple, effective memorial.
There are gardens and walkways around the lake, along with the National Art Gallery and the High Court of Australia. They are modern buildings, glass and concrete. An appeal by Lindy Chamberlain was held in this High Court and rejected the previous year. She had been sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of her baby daughter at Uluru in 1980, despite her claim that a dingo took the baby. A story that gripped the world and was later made into a film starring Meryl Streep. Although Lindy was released from prison in 1986 and acquitted in 1988, it was not until a fourth inquest in 2012 that the death certificate was officially changed to state that death was caused by a dingo.
I continued my travels by overnight Greyhound bus to Melbourne, then on to Adelaide. The bus obviously drove on highways so I didn’t get to see the coast road south west of Melbourne and the Twelve Apostles rock formations. That is on my current to do list.
In 1985 the current Parliament House was still a building site. Again the design was decided by a competition.
Today’s Parliament House is a stunning building, with the majority of rooms buried below Capitol Hill. The “roof” of the building has grass walkways arching up from street level, with a huge flag pole as a centre point.
We visited Canberra when our daughters were young and I have memories of the girls running up and rolling down the grass. I love the fact that the Australian public can literally walk all over their politicians.