Inaugurated in April 1970 (with the accompanying globe referred to below) by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II to commemorate the bicentenary of Captain James Cook’s discovery of the east coast of Australia this fountain/jet sits in Lake Burley Griffin in front of the National Capital Exhibition at Regatta Point.
Atop Commonwealth Bridge or the lake foreshore in the central basin of the lake are good places to view the fountain which gushes water up to 147m in height. Alternatively you might want a closer inspection from one of the local cruise boats. Be warned: If the wind turns and you get hit with the spray it can be a rather rude awakening on a cold Canberra day – I know from experience!
Normal hours of operation are 2pm to 4pm daily though an automatic cut-off mechanism is in place to turn the jet off in high wind conditions or if spray blows onto the Commonwealth Bridge. Be aware that operating hours can be erratic. At full pressure the water leaves the nozzles at 260kms per hour and there is 6 tonnes of water in the air at any point in time.
The other part of the fountain/globe memorial, the Globe, is located at Regatta Point below the National Capital Exhibition at the closest land point to the Fountain.
The sculpture is a bronze, copper and enamel terrestrial globe depicting the three routes taken by Captain James Cook to Australia. The open-cage globe is created from strands of bronze representing lines of longitude and latitude with land masses created in copper. Cook’s routes are superimposed in additional bronze strands. Details of the voyages can be read on the bronze handrail. The Globe was designed by Walter Ralston Bunning and, like the fountain was installed in 1970 to mark the bi-centenary of Captain Cook’s journeys to Australia.
In 1770, Captain Cook ‘discovered’ the south east coast of Australia, landing in Botany Bay. On 22 August 1770, he claimed the whole of the east coast of Australia at Possession Island, naming eastern Australia New South Wales.
While Cook is generally recognised as discovering Australia the Dutch had been there much earlier. Willem Janszoon on ship Duyfken is recorded as having charted the west coast Cape York Peninsula (in Queensland) and meeting with Aboriginal people in 1606.
In 1629, the Dutch ship the Batavia struck coral reefs on the Houtman Abrolhos Islands, 40 kilometres off the Western Australian coast. A failed mutiny resulted in two of mutineers being sentenced to be marooned on the Australian mainland, effectively making them the first European residents of Australia. Other explorers of the time included Dirk Hartog and Frederick de Houtman (Dutch), Louis Antoine de Bougainville (French) and William Dampier (English). In 1642, Dutchman Abel Tasman discovered Van Dieman’s Land, now named Tasmania.