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11 March 2013 / leggypeggy

Canberra—Happy 100th Birthday

Canberra 100th birthday

Canberra in the pink on her 100th birthday

Canberra was officially named 100 years ago—12 March 2013—and we’re having a big-time celebration to mark the occasion.

Our event calendar has been huge—two pages of fine print. But the highlights have been fireworks, numerous concerts and ethnic performances, film festivals, hot air balloons, a 1920s gala ball, a football game, boat and horse races, exhibitions, food stalls and the world’s longest bubbly bar.

Lake Burley Griffin

Boats out in force on Canberra’s 100th birthday

Yep that’s right, 800 metres of walkway on the edge of Lake Burley Griffin were set up to serve bubbly and tapas. Poor John and I resisted buying tickets to the event—heck he doesn’t even drink—but here are some of the details.

The event had multiple seatings, and was completely sold-out in advance. For $15, you could stay 45 minutes and have one glass of bubbly and tapas. An extra $10 got you a 90-minute stay and a second glass of fizz.

Lake Burley Griffin

The bubbly bar was set up on that distant stretch of shore

The team of more than 100 servers expected to serve 800 people every 20 minutes, and go through more than 1600 bottles of grog (Aussie slang for alcohol).

Local winemakers created a series of celebratory wines for the event, including the Centenary Sparkling (we can’t call it champagne). Local produce was used in all the tapas options. To be sure, I would have loved to sample the roasted mushroom soup, deconstructed bruschetta, smoked capsicum (bell pepper) parfait, Clyde River oysters, smoked trout and slow-cooked pork belly.

Canberra 100th birthday

One of many concerts by the lake

A little background on Canberra

In 1901, when the states of Australia came together as a federation, neither Sydney nor Melbourne wanted the other to become the capital. Ultimately it was agreed that a compromise location, in New South Wales, be chosen that was at least 100 miles (160 kilometres) from Sydney.

After a long process that involved numerous also-rans, Canberra, as a location, was identified in 1908. Then began the process to design and name this new capital.

An international design competition concluded in 1911, with Walter Burley Griffin, a Chicago architect, the winner. Griffin’s (he hated his middle name, but it gets used here all the time) entry relied heavily on the drawings done by his talented wife, Marion Mahony Griffin, the world’s first female architect graduate.

Canberra 100th birthday

An Indian dance troupe at the celebrations

As a carefully planned and designed city (Burley Griffin even envisioned the lake), Canberra has a wonderful elegance and style, coupled with a bush setting.

People who don’t live here complain that it has no soul, no heart. Others say it’s just plain cold. Yes, it’s cold in June and July, when so many school kids make their only trip here as part of a school excursion.

But heart and soul? Canberra has got both in trumps. It’s a wonderful city and I feel lucky to live here. Plus, we live about a 10-minute walk from the lake.

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  1. Sharon / Mar 12 2013 12:08 am

    I recall being told by a South Coast tour guide many moons ago, that Eden was also seriously considered as a site for our Federal capital. Here is a snippet of info from

    “Around the time of Federation, Eden was proposed as our future federal capital. In 1900 the Land’s Appeal Court, tasked with choosing among competing interests, favoured a Southern Monaro site with Twofold Bay as its port. The Governor General at the time, Lord Hopetoun, even went so far as to build a house in Eden in 1901 (still standing today at 5 Bass Street) when he and the then Leader of the Federal Opposition, George Reed, advocated Eden and its “wonderful harbour” as the capital. However, yet another proposed rail link and major port upgrade were denied by the NSW parliament with the predominating, centralist view that a rival port would “interfere with the trade of Sydney”. Many of us living here today are pleased by the relative peace and isolation thus willed on this region, but it is interesting to ponder wheether the historical impediment of Australia’s ‘tyranny of distance’ may have been partially alleviated had vision rather than self-interest prevailed.”


    • leggypeggy / Mar 12 2013 12:11 am

      Thanks Sharon. A capital at Eden would have been nice. They also considered Bombala, Armidale, Yass and many more. In the end they thought public servants would work harder in a cold climate. No wonder everyone thinks it is ONLY cold here. 🙂


  2. Rhonda / Mar 12 2013 9:09 am

    I love Canberra, too! I’ve been visiting regularly for 60 years now, and it just keeps getting better. I’d happily live there, and hope to in the future.


    • leggypeggy / Mar 12 2013 1:36 pm

      It’s a great city with lots to do. Hope you can make the move one day.


  3. mickeydownunder / Mar 12 2013 10:32 am

    I LOVE Canberra and have VERY special friends (you and Poor John) live there , TRUE!

    GREAT scenic views, the war memorial is a “must” for anyone visiting the first time too!

    Saying Canberra has no heart or soul is like when we hear “There’s nothing to do in Adelaide!” lol lol lol


    • leggypeggy / Mar 12 2013 1:37 pm

      Poor John is from Adelaide. We know there’s lots to do there too.


  4. artandkitchen / Mar 13 2013 3:43 am

    Hi Peggy and John¨
    We loved Canberra a lot (as well as Mickey. You are really great friends and we loved staying there with you!
    Canberra is a wonderful quiet place to live, as you will find a lake, a lot of green, wonderful views, mountains and little traffic. In Canberra you can live in the city and are the same time in the nature. For family, it’s a wonderful place to stay as you will find there friendly locals and clean fresh air.


    • leggypeggy / Mar 13 2013 7:56 am

      We’re so glad you liked it so much. Canberra really does have something for everyone. Come back any time.



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