On 12 March, 1913 Lady Denman, wife of Governor General, Lord Denman, formally announced that Australia’s Capital city would be called Canberra. She did so standing on top of the Foundation Stone of a planned Commencement Column on Capital Hill, where Parliament House is located today. The planned column was never added to the Foundation Stone which is now located on the lawn in front of Parliament House, it having been moved a short distance, in the 1980s, to allow for the building of the Parliament building.
One hundred years on, on the 11 March 2014 – the last day in the city’s centenary year – the Canberra Centenary Column, commemorating that centenary, was unveiled by the Australian Capital Territory’s (ACT) Chief Minister, Katy Gallagher, here on City Hill.
The 8.5 metres high Centenary Column was funded by local business people and created by local artist Geoff Farquhar-Still. It comprises a stainless steel obelisk on a granite dressed stone base with a flat steel skirt. The steel skirt is etched with (hard to see) images celebrating the national capital’s first 100 years.
In the base of the column is a time capsule, to be opened on 12 March, 2113, containing 100 items reflecting life in the city in 2014. Included therein, in addition to a message from the Prime Minister, is a parking ticket, a 2014 ACT car number plate and a toe of the prototype of SkyWhale.
The SkyWhale was a rather controversial hot air balloon which came to an unsavoury end when it was ‘killed’ in Yass (about 50 kms from Canberra) in 2015, by a man yielding a kitchen knife attached to a broom handle. See my Balloon Spectacular – 2016 review for more detail on SkyWhale.
May 2017 update – According to the Canberra Times Skywhale is alive and well last seen in Sao Paolo, Brazil and is now supposedly back in Melbourne.
The original intent had been to construct the Centenary Column on the lower part of Northbourne Avenue but plans for a, yet to be built, light railway stop there resulted in it being erected on the much less accessible City Hill.
Speaking of the inaccessibility of City Hill, the Canberra Times quoted how one anonymous bystander at the Column’s unveiling remarked how fitting it was that City Hill was chosen as the location to celebrate the birth of the great city of Canberra. He added ”While I’m not aware of any Canberrans being born on City Hill I’m pretty certain that over the years quite a few have been conceived here.”
For those wishing to visit City Hill to see the Column, admire the view, or whatever, I have given details of how get there in my separate City Hill review – City Hill – For A Very Different View.