History/Location, Canberra

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  • Midnight at the oasis
    Midnight at the oasis
    by iandsmith
  • Lake Burley Griffin, stunning by night
    Lake Burley Griffin, stunning by night
    by iandsmith
  • The 'Parliamentary Triangle' identified
    The 'Parliamentary Triangle' identified
    by tiabunna
  • tiabunna's Profile Photo

    The Parliamentary Triangle

    by tiabunna Updated Nov 18, 2006

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    The 'Parliamentary Triangle' identified
    2 more images

    Favorite thing: Walter Burley Griffin originated this term, which refers to the area between Parliament House and the lake, flanked by Commonwealth Avenue on the west and Kings Avenue to the east. As a visitor, it is important that you should understand that the buildings here are entirely of national significance - they are here for the nation and in general have no more relevance to the daily life of a typical Canberran than they do for someone from elsewhere. Although there are some office blocks (eg Treasury Department), most are more 'visitor oriented'. But if you see just this area you have not 'seen Canberra'. The area remains under the control of the Commonwealth Government's National Capital Authority, rather than of the ACT Government.

    Most newer buildings here were the winners of architectural design contests. I suspect that says much about modern architecture! I am not an architect, so the following descriptions are simply my 'take' on the styles. The pre-war buildings such as Old Parliament House have art-deco style, the 1950s office blocks reflect the 'Stalinist' style of that period, the National Library from the 1960s is retro-classical. Things go downhill with the High Court and National Gallery of the 1980s, which can best be described as 'concrete brutalism'. But however ugly you may find the exteriors of some buildings, the interiors usually are more interesting and are worth visiting.

    Hey fellow Aussies, come and look around and feel a bit proud of what's in this area. Rembember that this isn't here just for Canberra and its residents, this (and the War Memorial) is yours: the national bit of the National Capital. Then move a bit wider and see the rest of it.

    Fondest memory: Main photo: Parliamentary Triangle from above, with labels - National Library (A); Office Blocks (B1,B2); New Parliament House (C); Old Parliament House (D); 'Questacon' (E).
    Second photo: Treasury Office building in 1950s 'Stalinist' style
    Third : map of the area, showing position where main photo was taken and direction.

    Related to:
    • Architecture
    • Family Travel
    • Museum Visits

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  • iandsmith's Profile Photo

    Ethnic mix

    by iandsmith Written Aug 5, 2006

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Midnight at the oasis

    Favorite thing: Canberra, like most Australian cities, has a very eclectic mix of population. It's not only the embassies that make it so, it's simply that Australia has always been a place for refugees, even back in ancient times.
    Thus it is that you get some great restaurants, especially Italian, and other reminders of foreign visitors.

    Fondest memory: I was yet again reminded of all this when I was dropping Rosemarie's nephew off one night after we'd enjoyed dinner together. Right near his apartment was this church, one of classic orthodoxy from eastern Europe. Though it was late at night I took the time to set up my tripod and get this shot off. Hope you enjoy it.

    Related to:
    • Architecture
    • Budget Travel
    • Religious Travel

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  • tiabunna's Profile Photo

    Canberra's design

    by tiabunna Updated Apr 16, 2006

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    Drawing of plan by Marion Burley-Griffin

    Favorite thing: The city design competion was won by an American, Walter Burley Griffin, whose plan featured a central lake, concentric road systems surrounding smaller hilltops, and long avenues giving vistas between major points of interest. Although Griffin's plan was not followed exactly, and Canberra has long since outgrown the original area, it remains the only fully planned city in Australia and one of the few in the world. It is now proof, if any was needed, of the merits of good planning.
    In the illustration, drawn by Burley Griffin's wife, the light area at right top is Mt Ainslie.

    Related to:
    • Family Travel
    • Arts and Culture
    • Architecture

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  • iandsmith's Profile Photo

    The man himself

    by iandsmith Written Sep 19, 2005

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    Lake Burley Griffin, stunning by night

    Favorite thing: Walter Burley Griffin, the man with the plan, was, in fact, American. Walter Burley Griffin was born on November 24, 1876 in Maywood, Illinois. In high school, Griffin showed an interest in landscape gardening and today would certainly be impressed with Canberra's. The family had moved to a new house in the Chicago suburb of Elmhurst and Griffin was involved in landscaping their own backyard. His parents let him do what he wanted and before long his brother and sisters were calling it 'The Jungle' because he was experimenting with so many different forms of plants. In 1895, Griffin enrolled in the Department of Architecture at University of Illinois and four years later graduated in Architecture. He returned to home where he quickly found a job as a draughtsman working with Chicago's most progressive and imaginative architects. From 1899 to 1914, Griffin created more than 130 designs in his Chicago office for buildings, urban plans and landscapes, half of which were built in Illinois, Iowa, Michigan and Wisconsin. In 1912, Griffin won the Canberra Commission for the design of the Federal Capital of Australia. Griffin arrived down under in October 1913 as Federal Director of Design and Construction - development of the city was ready to begin. Dominating Griffin's plan was a central artificial lake and a 'parliamentary triangle' in which the most important national buildings were to be placed. The surrounding residential areas had a geometric street pattern, circular and radial in shape, all fitting well into the general topography. Griffin continued to practise as an architect in Australia and design also the Newman College at the University of Melbourne, the Capitol Theatre and some houses. By 1935, Griffin was reduced to designing municipal incinerators and he left Australia to take up an architectural appointment in India. He died there in 1937 at the age of 60. Interestingly, his wife was also an architect of some reknown.

    Fondest memory: Having writ all of the above I should add that the lake you see today is not the one that Burley Griffin designed but it has certainly added much to the city by way of breaking up streets and suburbs and placing a quieter and more subdued atmosphere right in the centre.

    Related to:
    • Water Sports
    • Historical Travel
    • Study Abroad

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  • Ronald_T's Profile Photo

    But in fact, who was Walter...

    by Ronald_T Written Sep 12, 2002

    1.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Favorite thing:
    But in fact, who was Walter Burley Griffin? A question I ask myself and after a long search I want to share my findings. Walter Burley Griffin (see picture) was born on November 24, 1876 in Maywood, Illinois. Already in high school, Griffin showed his interest in landscape gardening. The family had moved to a new house in the Chicago suburb of Elmhurst and Griffin was involved in landscaping the backyard. His parents let him do what he wanted and before long his brother and sisters were calling it 'The Jungle' because he was experimenting with so many different forms of plants. In 1895, Griffin enrolled in the Department of Architecture at University of Illinois. In 1899, Griffin graduated in Architecture. He returned to Chicago where he quickly found a job as a draftsman working with Chicago's most progressive architects. From 1899 to 1914, Griffin created more than 130 designs in his Chicago office for buildings, urban plans and landscapes, half of which were built in Illinois, Iowa, Michigan and Wisconsin. In 1912, Griffin won the Canberra Commission for the design of the Federal Capital of Australia. Griffin arrived in Canberra on October 1913 as Federal Director of Design and Construction - development of the city was ready to begin. Dominating Griffin's plan was a central artificial lake and a 'parliamentary triangle' in which the most important national buildings were to be placed. The surrounding residential areas had a geometric street pattern, circular and radial in shape, all fitting well into the general topography. Griffin continued to practise as an architect in Australia and design also the Newman College at the University of Melbourne, the Capitol Theatre and some houses. By 1935, Griffin was reduced to designing municipal incinerators and he left Australia to take up an architectural appointment in
    India. He died there in 1937 at the age of 60.

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  • Ronald_T's Profile Photo

    Canberra (Aboriginal word for...

    by Ronald_T Written Sep 12, 2002

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    Favorite thing: Canberra (Aboriginal word for 'meeting place') is the Capital of Australia in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), on ca. 700 meters height, on the Murrumbidgee, with a population of 310173 (Jan. 1999).

    Canberra was build from a design by the American architect Walter Burley Griffin, and gave the city two centers; one political and one business center. Between the town center’s let they big spaces with a rural character. Central in the city laid the artificial designed Lake Burley Griffin, that named at the designer. Around the lake you find the governments buildings, the National Library (http://www.nla.gov.au), the High Court of Australia (http://www.hcourt.gov.au), the Australian National Gallery (http://www.nga.gov.au/index.html) and (opened in 1988) the New Parliament Building (http://www.aph.gov.au), which was build behind the old one (http://www.dcita.gov.au/oph.html).

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  • ankx's Profile Photo

    Distances to Canberra:Sydney ...

    by ankx Written Aug 25, 2002

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    Favorite thing: Distances to Canberra:
    Sydney 327 km by rail, 30 minutes by air, 306 km by road
    Melbourne 842 km by rail, 50 minutes by air, 655 km by road
    Brisbane 1313 km by rail, 100 minutes by air, 1316 km by road
    Adelaide, 1619 km by rail, 100 minutes by air, 1212 km by road
    Hobart, 120 minutes by air
    Perth, 4228 km by rail, 5hrs by air, 3952 km by road
    Darwin, 5hrs by air, 3461 km by road via Sydney

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  • khalid_2's Profile Photo

    khalid_2's General Tip

    by khalid_2 Updated Aug 24, 2002

    Fondest memory: The ACT measures 80km from north to south and is about 30km wide. It is landlocked within the mountainous country of south-eastern New South Wales, 300km from Sydney by road.

    Canberra and its surrounding suburbs are in the north-east of the territory, while the Namadgi National Park occupies the south-western area. The population grew from 50,000 in 1960 to 300,000 today.

    Black Mountain rises to 812m and is topped by the 195m-high Telecom Telecommunications Tower. Other nearby mountains include Red Hill (722m), Mt Pleasant (665m) and Mt Ainslie (840m), which is close to the city and has particularly fine views.

    The ACT's climate is one of extremes: deep frosts and some snowfalls in winter, and baking heat in summer. As a result, autumn and spring are the best times to visit the capital.

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  • RamSter's Profile Photo

    Canberra was a planned city,...

    by RamSter Written Sep 12, 2002

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    Favorite thing: Canberra was a planned city, unlike Sydney, you can tell by its preperation everything looks like it was placed there....Though this is basically a political area.

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