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Canberra - A Different View

As visitors to Canberra are becoming increasingly aware, when the sun sets, the previously much maligned city is being increasingly recognised for its fine dining, fabulous cocktail lounges and wide array of entertainment options. A trip to Canberra often includes a visit to several national institutions such as Parliament House, National Gallery or the Australian War Memorial, which are unique and impressive buildings during daylight hours, but can be a revelation when viewed at night.

A drive to the top of Mt Ainslie, Black Mountain or Red Hill, provides a great panorama of Canberra but that is only a part of the picture. On your next visit, consider getting up close to some of the buildings and artworks often only seen from a distance.


View from Mt Ainslie

Canberra’s major attractions are always illuminated at night, and during special events such as days of national significance and Floriade, some structures are enhanced with a variety of coloured floodlights and projections.


Old Parliament House – Australia Day

Bordered by Commonwealth Avenue, Kings Avenue, Lake Burley Griffin foreshore and Parliament House, the Parliamentary Zone contains some of the finest buildings in Australia. On a warm Canberra evening, it is possible to begin at the National Gallery of Australia and take a leisurely stroll among these stunning examples of unique architecture.

NATIONAL GALLERY OF AUSTRALIA
Established in 1967 and home to over 100,000 works of art, the National Gallery of Australia is the foremost art gallery in Australia. Major exhibitions are regularly held at the gallery and past examples include international collections by Rembrandt, Monet, Constable and Rodin.


National Gallery of Australia


“Diamonds” by Neil Dawson
Location: Suspended outside the entrance of the National Gallery


“Floating Figure” by Gaston Lachaise
Location: Sculpture Garden at the rear of the National Gallery

HIGH COURT OF AUSTRALIA
Completed in 1980 and opened by Queen Elizabeth II in the same year, the High Court is situated adjacent to the National Gallery from which it can be accessed via a public promenade.


High Court of Australia

NATIONAL PORTRAIT GALLERY

Formerly located within nearby Old Parliament House, the National Portrait Gallery now occupies a new building which was officially opened in December 2008. Neighbouring the High Court, the National Portrait Gallery is considered to be the most significant construction within the Parliamentary Zone in recent decades. Over 400 portraits of people who have helped forge the nation are displayed in the gallery.


National Portrait Gallery Entrance


National Portrait Gallery from Eastern Side


National Portrait Gallery from Northern Side

RECONCILIATION PLACE

Adjacent to the National Portrait Gallery is an open space incorporating Reconciliation Place. Opened in 2002 to symbolise a rapprochement between Australia’s indigenous people and settler population, Reconciliation Place hosts a number of striking artworks. At the eastern side of the place, the following quote by Gatjil Djerrkura OAM is etched in stone:

If we want to break away from the colonial past, and begin anew, then we have to walk together – hand in hand and side by side – as a truly reconciled nation


Wave Hill
In 1966, Vincent Lingiari led the Gurindji people in a walk-off at Wave Hill cattle station in the Northern Territory. Originally because of poor working conditions, pay and treatment, the walk-off became symbolic as a starting point for the land rights struggle.


Southern Cross – detail of artwork “Murray Cod”
Designers: Andrew Smith, Benita Tunks, Rob Tindal
Stonemasons: Tim Hodge, Malcolm Johnson
Artist: Munnari (John Hammond)


Mabuyu

Spirit warrior figure (Mabuyu) reproduced from an ancient rock painting located at Ubirr (Obiri Rock) Northern Territory.
Designers: Andrew Smith, Benita Tunks, Rob Tindal
Stonemasons: Tim Hodge, Malcolm Johnson
Artist: Unknown


Terra Aboriginum

The following quotes are printed on the side of this work which is accompanied by the sound of running water and the call of whipbirds:

_"It stands not with his [the King’s] honour to grant that which belongs to another" – Case of Carlisle (1647)

“The common law of this country would perpetuate injustice if it were to continue to persist… in characterising the indigenous inhabitants of Australian colonies as people too low in the scale of social organisation to be acknowledged as possessing rights and interests in land” – Mabo [No 2]_

From Reconciliation Place, a pathway leads to the National Science and Technology Centre. Midway between the two locations is a walkway leading to the Lake Burley Griffin foreshore where flags of all countries and organisations that maintain a diplomatic presence in Canberra are displayed atop 12 metre flag poles. If time permits, a walk along the lakeside affords a different perspective on a lot of the buildings featured in this article.


Walkway with Australian War Memorial in the distance


International Flag Display

NATIONAL SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY CENTRE
The National Science and Technology Centre or Questacon as it is more widely known, occupies a building which was Japan’s gift to celebrate Australia’s 1988 bicentenary. Questacon contains numerous and ever changing science related exhibits and is one of Canberra’s most popular attractions.


Questacon

The Astronomer statue outside of Questacon is constructed from parts of a telescope destroyed during Canberra’s 2003 bushfires.


“The Astronomer” by Tim Wetherell

Close to the entrance of Questacon is a sculpture of Albert Einstein celebrating his scientific contributions. When viewed from the side, a peace dove is formed to represent Einstein’s efforts to raise awareness of the perils of the nuclear age.


Albert Einstein

NATIONAL LIBRARY

The National Library has evolved from a Commonwealth Parliamentary Library which served the Federal Parliament and the nation, to the greatest library in Australia. Originally situated in Victoria , the library moved to Canberra in 1927. The present building was opened in 1968 and holds millions of items including national treasures such as James Cook’s Endeavour Journal.

OLD PARLIAMENT HOUSE

Directly across King Edward Terrace from Questacon is a large open area, the centre of which is an ideal location to view Old Parliament House, the Treasury Building and the John Gorton Building.

One of the most recognisable buildings in Canberra, Old Parliament House was known as Provisional Parliament House and was designed by Australia’s first Commonwealth Government architect, John Smith Murdoch. It was anticipated that the building would serve as Parliament House for a period of 50 years, however it was actually used from 1927 through until 1988. This grand building is now home to the Museum of Australian Democracy.


Old Parliament House


Old Parliament House


Treasury Building


John Gorton Building

NATIONAL ARCHIVES OF AUSTRALIA

East Block was originally designed by John Smith Murdoch to house public servants working in government departments. This is one of three buildings, including Old Parliament House and West Block, that are now included on the National Heritage List. In 1988, the building was completely refurbished and is now home to the National Archives of Australia.


National Archives

PARLIAMENT HOUSE

Similar to the extensive debate about the site of Australia’s national capital, the decision for the site of the new Parliament House continued for decades. Arguments for the new building to be located on the lake foreshore, Capital Hill and Camp Hill raged until the current site was confirmed by an Act of Parliament in 1974. The resulting Parliament House, opened in 1988 by Queen Elizabeth II in 1988, is a stunning building, particularly at night.

Locations
National Gallery of Australia
Parkes Place, Parkes, Canberra

High Court of Australia
Parkes Place, Parkes, Canberra

National Portrait Gallery
King Edward Terrace, Parkes, Canberra

Reconciliation Place
Adjacent to National Portrait Gallery

Lake Burley Griffin Foreshore
Parkes Place, Parkes, Canberra

National Science and Technology Centre (Questacon)
Corner King Edward Terrace & Mall Road West, Parkes, Canberra

National Library of Australia
Parkes Place, Parkes, Canberra

Treasury Building
Parkes Place, Parkes, Canberra

John Gorton Building
Parkes Place, Parkes, Canberra

Old Parliament House
Queen Victoria Terrace, Parkes, Canberra

National Archives of Australia
Queen Victoria Terrace, Parkes, Canberra

Parliament House
Parliament Drive, Capital Hill, Canberra

Canberra - A Different View

Graham Schofield

Fadden, Australia

  • Artist
    Notes
  • Artwork Comments 17

Artist's Description

This article is the first of two which highlights the spectacular but often overlooked sights in Canberra at night. The focus of this piece is the “Parliamentary Zone” while future work will incorporate other icons and oddities in different parts of the city.

Artwork Comments

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