After a number of years fundraising and having (after seven years of asking) secured land from the Federal Government the Canberra Scots set about building a statue to the memory of the famous Scottish poet, Robert Burns. No sooner had work on the statue commenced in 1935 then a bill for £4 10s, being the first annual land rent, arrived from the Government. This affront was not going to be taken lightly and the quick thinking and “generous” Scots promptly dispatched a honeyed note (or was it a poisoned chalice?) to the Government offering the statue to the people of Australia. The Government couldn’t refuse and on accepting it accepted that it had to pay land rent to itself. The canny Scots had their Burns statue and the government had been outfoxed.


Robert or Rabbie Burns is surely one of Scotland’s most famous sons and I imagine few readers here would not have heard his most famous ballad, sung the world over to welcome in the new year.

Auld Lang Syne

For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne,
We’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet,
For auld lang syne,

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And auld lang syne?

The anniversary of Robert Burns’ birth, 25th January, 1759, which was originally a gathering of a few of his friends to mourn his passing, is now remembered throughout the world as Burns Night when the haggis (“the chieftain’ o’ the puddin’ race”, yes he wrote a poem about a haggis too!) is eaten, whisky is drunk and his poems are read amongst friends.

3Robert Burns was more than a poet, he was a man of the people, and his powerful and meaningful commentary on the human condition have assured his place in the hearts and culture of Scotland for posterity.

This statue, commissioned by the Canberra Highland Society and Burns Club and located on the corner of Canberra Avenue and National Circuit is the second oldest public sculpture in Canberra (after Bellona), and the first to have a permanent home. Burns’ statutes can be found across the world (eight in Australia) where-ever Scots have set up home. They, as much as commemorating Burns, are monuments to ‘Scottishness’.

The memorial was designed by Sydney architects, J Shedden Adam and incorporates the statue designed by John Samuel Davies. The memorial draws heavily from the Scottish-American War Memorial in Edinburgh, and depicts a contemplative Burns in front of a pink granite wall, on which are four panels showing scenes and a verse from Burns’s poems – ‘John Anderson My Jo’, ‘To a Mouse’, ‘Tam O’Shanter’ and ‘The Cotter’s Saturday Night’. The statue and panels were cast in Italy in 1934.

Address: Canberra Avenue and National Circuit, Barton
Directions: Outside the Italian Club!

For my next CANBERRA – INNER SOUTH review click HERE.
For other CANBERRA reviews click HERE.



4 thoughts on “Robert Burns – For Auld Lang Syne

      1. I find it a struggle reading poetry in what is essentially another language so I get bored. I grew up in England so it doesn’t come naturally to me. Also he was a bit of a philanderer who didn’t always treat his women that well……
        Still, I enjoy the haggis (veggie) and whisky on Burns’ Night so you could say I’m a hypocrite!

        Liked by 1 person

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