Canberra, ACT, Australia

The Australian Capital Territory – located halfway between Sydney and Melbourne – was established in 1911 for the purpose of creating Canberra, the capital city of Australia. The name means “meeting place” in the Ngunnawal. These were indigenous people who once inhabited today’s New South Wales.

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1 Australian Capital Territory in Canberra, Australia

The Australian Capital Territory is the country’s federal district containing national government offices and museums. Although ACT measures 880 square miles, most of its 413,000 residents live in the capital city of Canberra. The territory was formed in 1911 when New South Wales gave the inland property to the Australian government. Canberra is located about midway between Sydney and Melbourne. Pictured is the Parliament House plus its Reflection Pond on Capital Hill.

Parliament House, 1 Capital Cir, Capital Hill ACT 2600, Australia
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2 Parliament House in Canberra, Australia

The apex of Parliamentary Triangle in Canberra is the Parliament House. The twin, boomerang-shaped building at the end of Federation Mall was primarily designed by architect Romaldo Giurgola and opened in 1988. Parliament House contains 4,700 rooms including the Senate and House of Representatives Chambers plus the Great Hall for hosting major events. It also offices the Prime Minister and Cabinet of Australia. You can tour the public areas of Parliament House and sit in on committee meetings. A popular activity is visiting the roof beneath the 266 foot flagpole. The vantage point offers panoramic views of Capital Hill and the city across from Lake Burley Griffin.

Parliament House, 1 Capital Cir, Capital Hill ACT 2600, Australia
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3 National Archives of Australia in Canberra, Australia

The Commonwealth Archives Office was founded in 1961 and became the National Archives of Australia in 1998. The agency’s headquarters are near the Parliament House. Inside is a collection of over 40 million government records. Most of these items are accessible online or at reading rooms within the building. Some information is restricted until released based on a schedule established by the National Archives of Australia Advisory Council.

National Achieves East Block, Queen Victoria Terrace, Parkes ACT 2600, Australia
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4 Old Parliament House in Canberra, Australia

When the Australian Constitution was signed in 1901, the offices for the Commonwealth of Australia were initially in Melbourne. The location for the country’s capital was vigorously debated between Melbourne and Sydney. In 1908, it was decided to create the Australian Capital Territory about half way between the two largest cities. When this Provisional Parliament House was finished in 1927, it became the office for the Prime Minister, Cabinet Ministers plus the legislative chambers. Notice the coat of arms along the roofline. On the left is the Royal Arms of the United Kingdom. On the right is the Commonwealth Coat of Arms featuring a kangaroo and emu. After the new Parliament House opened in 1988, the Old Parliament House became the Museum of Australian Democracy.

18 King George Terrace, Parkes ACT 2600, Australia
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5 Senate Chamber at Old Parliament House in Canberra, Australia

Australia’s legislature branch consists of the Senate and House of Representatives. This was the Australian Senate chamber from 1927 until 1988 inside of the Provisional Parliament House. The 76 senators – 12 elected from each of the country’s six states plus two territories – collectively constitute the upper house of Australia’s bicameral parliament.

18 King George Terrace, Parkes ACT 2600, Australia
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6 House of Representatives Chamber at Old Parliament House in Canberra, Australia

The Australian House of Representatives consists of 150 Members of Parliament. You can tour this former lower house chamber inside of the Old Parliament House. The displays at the Museum of Australian Democracy are not limited to the Senate and House chambers. You can also visit the Prime Ministers of Australia exhibit and peek inside the former Prime Minister’s Suite. Other rooms contain history about the government and building. A popular feature among students is the chance to dress up wearing a black silk gown and horsehair wig.

18 King George Terrace, Parkes ACT 2600, Australia
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7 Fountain at Old Parliament House Gardens in Canberra, Australia

Beyond the gate of the House of Representatives Garden adjacent to the Old Parliament House is this rectangular fountain with twelve water jets. It was created in 2003 to celebrate the centennial of women’s suffrage in Australia. The Commonwealth Franchise Act of 1902 not only allowed women to vote but also to be voted into Parliament. Listed along the fountain’s borders are highlights of their parliamentary accomplishments. The Centenary of Women’s Suffrage Commemorative Fountain was designed by Cate Riley and Andrew Smith. The extensive mosaic work was performed by Mary Stuart.

Centenary of Women's Suffrage, Rose Gardens, Parliament Square, Parkes ACT 2600, Australia
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8 Rose Garden at Old Parliament House Gardens in Canberra, Australia

Four rose gardens were planted on either side of the Old Parliament House between 1931 and 1938. Two of the gardens were designated as the Senate Courtyard. On the opposite side of the building is this House of Representatives Garden. The two flowerbeds for the lower house are named Macarthur Rose Garden and Ladies Rose Garden. This respite for Members of Parliament became overgrown when Parliament moved to their new facility on Capital Hill in 1988. The manicured grounds were revitalized in 2000 according to the original plans drawn by architect John Smith Murdoch in 1926.

The Ladies Rose Gardens, Parliament Square, Parkes ACT 2600, Australia
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9 King George V Memorial at Old Parliament House in Canberra, Australia

George V, the grandson of Queen Victoria, became King of the United Kingdom in 1910. When he died in 1936, the Australian government wanted to create a memorial for its former sovereign. The tribute was designed by Rayner Hoff, sculpted by John Moorfield and built by architect Harry Foskett. The statue portrays George V holding an orb and scepter, the traditional symbols of a monarch’s power. On the reverse side is an equestrian sculpture of Saint George. Created in 1953, the monument was moved to the Old Parliament House in 1968.

18 King George Terrace, Parkes ACT 2600, Australia
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10 National Gallery of Australia in Canberra, Australia

The National Gallery of Australia is a premier art museum established in 1967. Their 160,000 item collection includes works from Australia, from Western modern masters plus international artists. Also exhibited are crafts and photography. The museum has nearly 250,000 square feet of exhibition space on three levels. The building’s façade – created by Colin Madigan and opened in 1982 – is called Brutalist meaning raw concrete. This design style is shared with the High Court of Australia, the museum’s neighbor along King Edward Terrace. The aluminum sphere near the entrance is titled, “Eran.” The artwork was created in 2010 by Dr. Thancoupie Gloria Fletcher James AO. When she died the following year, Thancoupie became the last speaker of Thaynakwith. This was the language of the Dhaynagwidh people.

National Gallery of Australia, 30 Parkes Pl E, Parkes ACT 2600, Australia
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11 High Court of Australia in Canberra, Australia

Australia’s Constitution was passed on January 1, 1901. More than 2.5 years would pass before the High Court of Australia was formed. This is the equivalent of the country’s supreme court. The first session was held in Melbourne. During the initial years, the justices moved throughout Australia based on an annual schedule. In 1968, the decision was made to house the High Court in Canberra. Since 1980, the Chief Justice and six other Justices have been housed in the High Court Building on Lake Burley Griffin. The Cascade Waterfall was created by Robert Raymond Woodward. Its design represents a stream running down Australian volcanic rocks.

High Court of Australia, Parkes Pl, Parkes ACT 2600, Australia
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12 National Portrait Gallery in Canberra, Australia

The National Portrait Gallery has 3,500 portraitures of individuals who have helped shape Australia. The image styles seem as unique as the people. There are photos, paintings and sculpture. Some portraits are poised, others are in action, a few are humorous and each portrays the essence of the influential person. When the museum was founded in 1998, their collection was exhibited at the Old Parliament House. The National Portrait Gallery moved into their new facility on King Edward Terrace in 2008. The 150,000 square foot building was designed by Johnson Pilton Walker.

National Portrait Gallery, King Edward Terrace, Parkes ACT 2600, Australia
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13 Questacon and Einstein Sculpture in Canberra, Australia

Questacon is the National Science and Technology Centre. The museum is filled with interactive science and technology exhibits. This is a delightful learning experience for children and adults. Near the entrance is a metal sculpture that transforms from a dove into Albert Einstein as you walk around it. The famous physicist’s words on a plaque are, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” The rest of his quote from a 1929 Saturday Evening Post article inspired the name for my website: “Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.”

Questacon, King Edward Terrace, Parkes ACT 2600, Australia
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14 The Treasury Building in Canberra, Australia

Since it was established in 1901, the Department of the Treasury has been responsible for managing Australia’s taxation, budget, monetary and financial policies plus researching, accessing and enhancing the country’s economy. Outside of its headquarters on King Edward Terrace is the Treasury Fountain. The two-piece bronze fountain and abstract sculpture were the work of former Melbourne artist Norma Redpath. They were erected in the northern forecourt in 1969 shortly before the third stage of the Treasury Building was completed.

1 Newlands St, Parkes ACT 2600, Australia
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15 National Library of Australia in Canberra, Australia

A national library function was part of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Library’s mission when it was established in 1901. Sixty years later, the National Library of Australia was created. The charter of the NLA is to collect, categorize and retain all written material about and from Australia. The collection numbers about 10 million books, manuscripts, magazines, photographs, recordings and websites. Most of this material is accessible from an online catalog. You can also use one of three reading rooms or tour the National Library of Australia at its 1968 main building along King Edward Terrace.

National Library of Australia, 25 Parkes Pl W, Parkes ACT 2600, Australia
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16 National Museum of Australia in Canberra, Australia

Inside of the National Museum of Australia are exhibits of the country’s social history dating back to the arrival of Aboriginal Australians about 40,000 to 60,000 years ago. This makes the indigenous people one of the world’s oldest continuous cultures. You will also learn how Europeans discovered Australia in the early 17th century and began settling in 1788 to establish penal colonies. The history museum was built on a small headland called Acton Peninsula. Surrounded by Lake Burley Griffin, the NMA opened in 2001 based on the design of architect Howard Raggatt.

National Museum of Australia, Lawson Cres, Acton ACT 2601, Australia
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17 Lake Burley Griffin in Canberra, Australia

Defining the center of the Parliamentary Triangle is Lake Burley Griffin. The 6.8 mile artificial lake created in 1963 was named in honor of Walter Burley Griffin. This American architect designed Canberra’s layout after it was announced in 1908 that the proposed city would become Australia’s capital. Encircling the shoreline are numerous national museums, parklands and an 18.5 mile walking and cycle path known as Lake Burley Griffin Circuit. Pictured to the right of the Commonwealth Avenue Bridge is Lennox Gardens.

Commonwealth Ave, Parkes ACT 2600, Australia
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18 Australian War Memorial in Canberra, Australia

The outstanding Australian War Memorial opened at the foot of Mount Ainslie in 1941. Initially built as a tribute to those who served and died during World War I, its purpose has been expanded to honor soldiers from subsequent wars. Within the building’s two wings are World War I and II history museums. In Aircraft Hall is a war plane exhibit. The Hall of Valour contains Victoria Crosses awarded to Australians. This medal is the highest British military recognition for gallantry. The memorial’s impressive Byzantine design was a joint effort between architects Emil Sodersten and John Crust.

Australian War Memorial, Treloar Cres, Campbell ACT 2612, Australia
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19 Memorial Courtyard at Australian War Memorial in Canberra, Australia

Inside of the Australian War Memorial is Memorial Courtyard. At the far end of the Pool of Reflection is an eternal flame. Beneath the dome is the Hall of Memory, a chapel containing the Tomb of the Unknown Australian Soldier. Within the colonnades is the Roll of Honor listing servicemen killed in action. In order to personalize those names, a tradition began in 2013 called the Last Post Ceremony. Near 5:00 p.m. daily, after a bagpiper plays “Flowers of the Forest” – a Scottish song commemorating a battle defeat – one soldier’s life story is told including photos and how he died. Assuming there are no additional casualties of war, this outstanding and touching ceremony will continue every day thorough 2295 until all 102,186 fallen Australian soldiers have been recognized.

Australian War Memorial, Treloar Cres, Campbell ACT 2612, Australia
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20 Military Leaders Inside Australian War Memorial in Canberra, Australia

A chance encounter of mine while visiting the Australian War Memorial was a reception hosted by two key military leaders. On the left is Lieutenant General Angus Campbell. He was the former Deputy National Security Adviser to the Prime Minister and then Chief of Australian Army. In 2018, Campbell became the country’s most senior military officer as the Chief of the Defence Force. On the right is Mark Alexander Milley. This four-star general of the United States is the Chief of Staff of the Army and member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff serving the White House. The little boy between them is unknown.

Australian War Memorial, Treloar Cres, Campbell ACT 2612, Australia
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21 Anzac Parade from Australian War Memorial in Canberra, Australia

Stretching from the Australian War Memorial to the northern bank of Lake Burley Griffin is Anzac Parade. Along the .7 mile boulevard are 16 memorials to various wars and branches of military service. In the foreground is a rectangular tribute to fallen soldiers. The inscription reads, “Their Name Liveth for Everymore.’ In the distance is the Parliament House. ANZAC is an acronym for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps. The Anzac Day ceremony is conducted on this thoroughfare every April 25.

Anzac Parade & Fairbairn Ave, Campbell ACT 2612, Australia
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22 National Naval Memorial on Anzac Parade in Canberra, Australia

On the southeast side of Anzac Parade is the National Naval Memorial. This tribute to the members of the Royal Australian Navy was unveiled by Queen Elizabeth II in 1986 on the 75th anniversary of the Navy’s formation. The bronze statuary by Ante Dabro portrays abstract figures and shapes representing sailors at sea. The tribute is also called Sailors and Ships – Interaction and Interdependence.

104 Anzac Park, Campbell ACT 2612, Australia
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