Parks /Gardens / Lakes, Canberra
Allow yourself about two hours (more if you want to sample the café in the gardens which I thoroughly recommend you do – see separate tip - Floresco in the Gardens) to see these delightful and varied gardens. The National Botanic Gardens, run by the Government, specialises in Australian native plants and contains nearly 7,000 of some 18,000 identified species found in Australia, all set in Canberra’s bushland environment.
Compared to Sydney, Melbourne and indeed Kew these gardens are small – 35 hectares. Rather than being a criticism, this is actually good as in a couple of hours you can see the whole gardens covering the ambit of Australian flora from the Tasmanian Rainforest to the newly created Red Centre (desert) collection with everything in between. Those of you who thought there was only one type of Eucalypt tree will be in for a bit of a surprise when you reach the Eucalypt Lawn where you can sit and admire over 70 species of this famous Australian Tree. The lawn is also a great place for a picnic and regularly hosts concerts in the summer.
In terms of wildlife, watch out for lizards in the rock garden area which also sports a pleasant little waterfall and birds throughout the Gardens. Both are reasonably abundant and easy to spot.
The main path walk (1.4kms) will let you see the highlights of the gardens but do veer off – you will not get lost as all paths lead back to the main path fairly quickly.
Canberra’s cold dry winters and hot dry summers are not conducive to the growing of tropical plants but this has been taken care of by a glasshouse which, while small, is well stocked and tended. Don’t miss it – its just off the main path (signposted) – in the far side of the gardens from the entrance. The glasshouse is open from 9.30am to 4.30pm.
For those with energy to burn you can leave the gardens via Black Mountain Gate (watch out for signs in the Red Centre Garden and Glasshouse areas) and make your way up Black Mountain to Telstra Tower on the top. Note that this is not a gentle walk in the park but rather a moderately difficulty 5.4 km return walk – allow 90 minutes return. I am not a major fan of Telstra Tower (which you have to pay to go up – fair enough as it’s a private business) and personally think the view from Mt Ainslie is far superior and it ss free. I do however enjoy the walk up Black Mountain and recommend it if you have the time and energy. Be sure to be back down by 4.30pm as the gate into the Gardens are locked at this hour.
Free guided tours, lasting just over an hour, are offered daily at 11am and 2pm. I thoroughly recommend you take a tour before or after a private walk through the gardens.
Pick up your garden map at the visitors centre when you arrive and have a look at the well stocked book/gift shop.
Often overlooked by visitors, I recommend a visit to the Botanic Gardens as ‘a must do’ for my discerning VT readers!
Daily 8.30am to 5.00pm, except Christmas Day (to 8pm on summer weekends)
The Visitor Centre and Bookshop are open 9:30am to 4:30pm and the Café 8.30am to 4.30pm.
Free but there is a sting if you drive. Car parking costs $2.80 per hour or a maximum of $10 per day – still worth it and parking fees do go to the upkeep of the gardens.
Getting there other than driving
By bus – School term weekdays - ACTION bus Route 3 will get you to within a 10 minute walk of the Gardens. At weekends route 981 stops at the Gardens as does Route 81 on weekdays during school holidays.
Walk to the Gardens – about 30 minutes from the City Centre.
Bit of a misnomer – I actually mean, and will review, a walk around the central basin – a circular walk of 5kms crossing the lake via Commonwealth and King’s bridges (bridge to bridge). This is an easy walk along flat (apart from going up and down onto the bridges to cross the lake) sealed paths and is a favorite for locals and tourists alike. Please look at my separate review (still to be written)on a cycle tour around the whole lake – some 35kms though shorter options are also mentioned there. Off course nothing stopping you walking the lot.
While this is a beautiful walk and very highly recommended especially in early morning with (or without) a mist on the lake or at dusk letting you see a large number of the major sights of Canberra as you pass, I am actually going to use this review to link to other reviews (as I write them) for each of the sights you meet along the way – as such turn your two hour stroll into a day or three. Dining and restroom facilities are available at all the more significant sights.
You can start the walk anywhere you like, though for the purpose of this review I will start at Regatta Point as it is easily accessible from the city and via bus and parking (timed) is available. Sights are listed on the basis that you walk in a clockwise direction.
I will also take liberties and include links to reviews of sights that are a little back from the lake though well within walking distance e.g. Parliament House and the Australian War Memorial.
Right at the beginning of the walk there are three sights worth visiting.
Captain Cook Memorial Fountain - If it’s not operating as you start it mostly like will at some stage of your walk – just keep and eye out as you proceed.
Captain Cook Memorial Globe
National Capital Exhibition
Floriade – An annual world class flower show - not a sight unless its on!
ANZAC Parade – about 200m away from the lake path
Australian War Memorial – about 1km from the lake path via ANZAC Parade
The hill behind the War Memorial is Mount Ainslie – go here for, in my opinion, the best view in Canberra
(While I have included them here, I actually recommend that the three sights above be seen by themselves and are worth a day in themselves)
National Emergency Services Memorial
Merchant Navy Memorial
HMAS Canberra Memorial
National Police Memorial
Department of Defence and Bugs Bunny – Australian American War Memorial
Cross over Kings bridge at this point.
National Gallery of Australia
National Gallery Sculpture Garden
NAtional Gallery - Within Without
National Portrait Gallery
High Court of Australia
National Flag Display
Go for a Segway Ride
Aboriginal Tent Embassy – about 300m away from lakeside path
Old Parliament House – about 300m away from lakeside path
Rose Gardens – about 300m away from lakeside path
Curtain and Chifley Statue - about 350m away from lakeside park
National Archives - about 350m away from lakeside park
Parliament House (New) - Interior and Exterior – about 700m away from lakeside path
National Library of Australia
Cross Commonwealth Bridge back to Regatta Point. Good views of Black Mountain (separate trip) from the bridge.
Getting to Regatta Point - Any bus from the city centre heading south over the Commonwealth Bridge. Get off just before you cross the bridge.
This excellent display formally in Commonwealth Park has now moved to the National Arboretum.
I have written a new tip thereon which can be found here - Bonsai at the National Arboretum.
I will retain this page for a while lest I have included links on other pages to it.
There seems to be a little more to interest spectators each time and this year was no exception. The kids had many options, especially around the garden gnome area and there were even more places to eat.
Here and there you could find the odd sculpture in surprising places and it's good to see all family members taking part though it's fair to suggest that not all that many adolescents were present.
Despite the dry, warm windy weather, Floriade 2013 was one of the better years and, as usual, people flocked there in their hundreds of thousands.
In its 26th year it seemed a little more commercial than it was the last time I visited, five night sessions having been programmed.
The gardens theme this year was geometric patterns entitled Beautiful Innovation. I've heard that patterns are best viewed from the ferris wheel but, to date, I've never been up on it and I tend to get transfixed by my camera and all the stunning colours on display.
I will update this tip with details of the 2014 Floriade when they become available so that you can plan your trip !
An annual flower display of truly international standards. If you are in town during Floriade you should not miss it though it is probably better to say if you are in town when it’s on you won’t miss it as, chances are, that will be the reason you are in town!
This magnificent and immensely colourful flower display of exotic bulbs and annuals is held every spring (2013 -14 September to 13 October 2013). Floriade 2013 was an extra special display in Canberra’s centenary year with the overall design strongly influenced by the geometry of Canberra’s original plan by Walter Burley Griffin and the theme Beautiful Innovation . The layout of the flowers in individual garden-beds was inspired by the great institutions of Canberra – the Australian War Memorial, Old Parliament House, the National Gallery, the National Library and may others. To be honest some of this inspiration was easier to see than others but the flowers were beautiful throughout.
Floriade began in 1988 as a spectacular commemoration of Australia's Bicentenary and Canberra's 75th birthday – so this year also marked Floriade’s 25th birthday.
Floriade attracts thousands of interstate and overseas visitors each year with the result that hotels rooms in Canberra are scarce and at a premium price-wise. You are well advised to book early.
In addition to the wonderful garden beds and flowers there is a great range of other street style entertainment, gardening demonstrations, lots of food outlets from basic to high end, rides for the kids and gift shops. A great family event.
This year saw a major improvement in the range of quality entertainment at Stage 88 in the park – my final picture is of an excellent gospel group the repertoire of which included a moving rendition of South Africa’s national anthem.
Don’t become so intoxicated with all the flowers that you miss out on the garden gnome display (you can paint and display your own) or forget to sit and listen to the Australia Fair Street Organ. Hopefully both items will feature again in 2014 as they have for many years.
Allocate at least half a day for your visit.
It really is impossible to pick five pictures to represent this event. For more pictures (from 2012) have a look at my 2012 tip - Floriade 2012 which I will retain for the record.
In more recent years Floriade has also opened its doors (ok, gates) on a number of nights for Nightfest. This year (2013) night opening was 25-29 September. The flowers came alive again with a spectacular light show (an illuminated wonderland !) and crowds were entertained by live bands on Stage 88 within the grounds while all the other entertainment and activity also continued into the night.
Nightfest is, alas, not free. See below for opening hours and costs.
Floriade is held in Commonwealth Park, a five-minute walk from Canberra’s city centre. This is the best way to get there and is well signposted. Parking at Commonwealth Park is limited. Bus services available – including a free service from the city centre.
Day time - 9am to 5pm weekdays; 9am to 5.30pm weekends and public holidays; Last entry is 30 minutes before close. You cannot do it justice in 30 minutes.
Admission charge: Free
Nightfest – 25 -29 September 2013 – 6.30pm to 10.30pm.
Admission charge :
Adult A$25 (17yrs plus)
Children A$10 (5 -16 yrs old – under 5 free)
Family A$50 (2 adults, 2 children)
Some concessions were available.
I have lived in Canberra now for some 14 years and the last place I would have thought of going for a walk, let alone a walk to see modern sculptures, would have been the grounds of the Australian National University.
By chance, I recently came across a brochure entitled ANU Sculpture Walk (download it from the link below) and then an Ipad App of the same name. From this I found out that there were 55* separate sculptures on the ANU Acton (main) campus all (bar a couple - inside buildings and accessible only in standard office hours) located in beautiful grounds and many with views to Lake Burly Griffin and Black Mountain Tower.
I decided that I better go and have a look and this is exactly what I did this morning – a beautiful clear, sunny, late winter Canberra day.
I started my walk at the Australian National Museum and quickly realised that I would not be able to do the full walk and see all the sculptures in one visit (this would take about 4 hours assuming little in the way of stops). As such, today I visited just less than half the sculptures - in two hours - and at the same time enjoyed a great walk in the University grounds – the first part of it though bush-land with beautiful views to the lake and Black Mountain.
The sculptures are all modern and will not be to everyone’s taste - but given the variety it is almost certain that a few will appeal. I have to say I wasn’t overwhelmed with the sculptures but was sufficiently impressed to want to go back and see the remaining half. From other reviews you may be aware that I am not a big fan of modern art, generally. I did, however, very much enjoy the walk and the University grounds which also has some beautiful old houses and some interesting modern architecture in addition to the well maintained gardens and bush land.
Some of the sculptures are a little tricky to find though the map in the brochure and the GPS linked one in the App are both excellent in helping to find them. Ensure you take a map with you.
As my visit was on a Sunday morning none of the University coffee shops or restaurants (which are of good quality) were open. If you go on a weekday you should consider allowing a bit extra time for a coffee or indeed lunch.
I have attached pictures of five of the first 21 sculptures – the ones I liked best. The number attached is that used in the brochure I referred to above. You should refer to the brochure (or the App) for further detail on these and all the other sculptures. My third picture is a full size statue of Churchill - the actual sculpture referred to on the walk is a bust of Churchill nearby and No 16 on the walk map.
Please do visit Part 2 of this tip where I share with you some of my favorites from the remainder of the sculptures.
Opening Hours - Everyday all day (noting that a few sculptures are inside buildings - one only in range 1 - 21 ie 18 though you can easily see it through the window). Number 14 (my fifth photo) is within University House quadrangle and is accessible anytime as University House is a hotel run by the University.
Entrance Fee: Free
* There are in fact a few more.
This tip is a continuation of ANU Sculpture Walk - Part 1 of 2 so if you haven’t already done so, I encourage you to read Part 1 first.
By way of recap, from Part 1 –
“By chance, I recently came across a brochure entitled ANU Sculpture Walk (download it from the link below) and then an Ipad App of the same name. From this I found out that there were 55* separate sculptures on the ANU Acton (main) campus all (bar a couple - inside buildings and accessible only in standard office hours) located in beautiful grounds and many with views to Lake Burly Griffin and Black Mountain Tower.”
Part 1 provided an overview of part (almost half and up to sculpture 21) of the sculptures and commented on the very enjoyable walk.
The walk around the remaining 34 sculptures took me around 2.5 hours and to be honest was much less interesting both from a sculpture and quality of walk perspective than Part 1. This part of the walk takes you by many more modern buildings and is much duller from a scenery perspective. The sculptures, while there were a few interesting ones, were also much more obtuse and uninspiring – what I generally expect from modern art, actually.
As my visit was on a Sunday morning none of the University coffee shops or restaurants (which are of good quality) were open. If you go on a weekday you should consider allowing a bit extra time for a coffee or indeed lunch.
I have attached pictures of five of the second 34 sculptures – the ones I liked best. The number attached is that used in the brochure I referred to above. You should refer to the brochure (or the App) for further detail on these and all the other sculptures.
A pleasant enough walk but if you are stuck for time or don’t want to do the full walk which takes around 4.5 – 5 hrs (assuming no coffee/ eating stops) then I recommend you do the first part – that covered by Part 1 of this tip and taking around 2 hrs.
For this walk park anywhere on the ANU campus noting that it is paid parking during office hours and that it can be difficult to find a spot at time. I parked at Screensound Australia - a quality arthouse cinema.
Everyday all day (noting that a few sculptures are inside buildings - 4 in range 22-55 ie 26 ( which you can sort of see though a side window) , 40,41 and 43.
Let me state upfront – if you are coming here to see banks of mature trees as you might find in other arboretums then you will be sorely disappointed. Apart from a bank of mature Himalayan cedars and Cork oaks all the other trees are less than (most significantly less than) 10 years old. Why is this so? You ask.
This arboretum is a true phoenix from the ashes of devastating bushfires which raged through this area of Canberra on 18-22 January 2003. In addition to taking the lives of 4 people and around 500 buildings the fire blazed through a pine forest where the Arboretum now stands. One of the outcomes of the review was that pine forests would not be grown around Canberra again. The establishment of an arboretum here also settles a long outstanding component of the Walter Burley Griffin plan for Canberra. The Arboretum was formally opened to the public in early 2013.
Once one understands the youthfulness of everything one can then appreciate that over 35,000 trees have been planted on the 250 hectare site in the past 10 years – with species from over 100 countries represented. It is a popular tradition now to get visiting dignitaries to plant a tree.
Given the lack of trees one does get some excellent uninterrupted views of Canberra across Lake Burley Griffin (picture two) and the mountains in the other direction – best views from Dairy Farmers Hill.
The Arboretum is also home for the excellent National Bonsai and Penjing Collection of Australia. See my separate tip on the Bonsai collection.
Also within the Arboretum are two interesting sculptures, both worth a look. On top of Dairy Farmers Hill is a large metal - found objects - mostly abandoned farm machinery - sculpture of an eagle on its nest (picture four) – by Richard Moffat and entitled Nest III (where I and II are, if they exist, I don’t know!). Across on the other side of the visitors centre (Village Centre) on top of the hill near the Himalayan cedar forest, is a metal sculpture of the words “Wide Brown Land’ taken from Dorothea Mackellar’s well known poem – My Country (picture five).
I quite like the poem - here is a part there-of. i hope you like it too.
"I love a sunburnt country,
A land of sweeping plains,
Of ragged mountain ranges,
Of droughts and flooding rains.
I love her far horizons,
I love her jewel-sea,
Her beauty and her terror -
The wide brown land for me!"
The arboretum is well laid out and you can easily get around by car or on foot (if you like walking only). There are a few worthwhile walking tracks including one through the Himalayan cedar forest and a number of free guided walks leave regularly from the Village Centre (visitors centre).
So what do I think?
A visit to see the bonsai collection; admire the views which give a new perspective on the city from those you get from Mount Ainslie, Black Mountain and the other traditional viewpoints; see the artwork and have a look around the Village Centre (visitors centre) where you can find a native demonstration garden, a discovery garden, a couple of eating outlets and a souvenir shop provides sufficient to do for a couple of hours while you wait for the trees to grow!
Not a must do just yet but if you have a couple of hours to kill, go for it.
The Arboretum is located at Forest Drive, off Tuggeranong Parkway, Weston Creek - 6 kms for the city centre.
Opening times: Arboretum open daily: 7am-5.30pm and during daylight savings from 6am-8.30pm; Village Centre/ Bonsai Collection open daily except Christmas Day 9am-4pm
Entry Fee; Free to everything but you must pay for parking at the Village Centre
Parking fees: $2 an hour, maximum $7 for the day.
An anticipated bus service from the city does not seem to have eventuated yet and the Arboretum's website states that a bus service to the Arboretum is expected to operate by 2014. Check with ACTION bus company if interested.
The National Bonsai and Penjing Collection of Australia
My previous review for the The National Bonsai and Penjing Collection of Australia related to a somewhat smaller collection at its former home – Commonwealth Park in Canberra. I have now mothballed that review.
In March 2013 the collection was moved to its new and permanent purpose built facility at the National Arboretum about 6kms outside the city.
The collection has also been significantly enlarged given the extra space now available. It now contains perhaps a hundred of the finest miniature trees and forests that you will see anywhere and certainly the best I have seen anywhere in Australia.
I am always amazed at the skill and effort the owners put into these living sculptures to have them look so beautiful. One of the amazing things is that the display has even managed to capture Canberra’s seasons – so the miniature European beach at picture three is not dead! It has lost its leaves, as it’s now autumn in Canberra.
The collection contains a mix of both Australian native and exotic species.
When I wrote about the display when it was located at Commonwealth Park (in the city) I strongly recommended you see it at that location though questioned whether I thought it would be worth the hike out to the Arboretum to see it, unless you were a diehard bonsai fan. Having now visited the display at the Arboretum, which is significantly larger than it was in the city, I wholeheartedly recommend you go out and see it. My praise for the Arboretum itself is less glowing – but that is for another review.
A musician beautifully playing some form of Chinese woodwind instrument was a nice touch during my visit earlier today.
The Arboretum is located at Forest Drive, off Tuggeranong Parkway, Weston Creek - 6 kms for the city centre. You access the bonsai display via the Arboretum's visitor centre - "the Village Centre". Restrooms, cafe etc are available at the Village Centre.
Opening hours: 9 am to 4 pm seven days a week, except Christmas Day
Entry Fee: free (donation at your discretion) as it is for the Arboretum itself but you must pay for parking: $2 an hour, maximum $7 for the day.
An anticipated bus service from the city does not seem to have eventuated yet and the Arboretum's website states that a bus service to the Arboretum is expected to operate by 2014. Check with ACTION Bus company if interested.
Mount Pleasant Lookout and Royal Australian Artillery Memorial
Mt Pleasant is one of four lookouts over Canberra city and the surrounding area.
It is probably the least visited of the four. Perhaps people are nervous and put off coming here as you have to drive through the grounds of the Duntroon Royal Military College. While there is security here there is absolutely no problem driving through Duntroon so please don’t let that deter you.
While I feel the best views of Canberra are from Mt Ainslie Lookout the view from here is still very worth the drive – giving a different perspective and a new angle as evidenced from the attached pictures. Looking backwards you also get good views of Duntroon Royal Military College and Jerrabomberra Wetlands.
Unlike Mt Ainslie and Red Hill Lookouts which are just that, atop this hill you will also find a memorial to gunners of all ranks of the Royal Regiment of Australian Artillery – more commonly referred to as the Royal Australian Artillery.
Inserted into the stone wall, symbolic of an early fort, you will see plaques naming the conflicts in which Australian Gunners served. The guns are 64-pounder RML Mark III guns manufactured in the 1870s and originally part of Sydney’s harbor defenses at Middle Head. This is a designated saluting station from which Australia's Federation Guard still provides 21-gun salutes on ceremonial occasions.
The Memorial was dedicated by HM Queen Elizabeth II on 9 March 1977.
One the road up to the lookout visit the grave of General Bridges, Australia’s highest ranking soldier in World War I. – see my separate tip on General Bridges’ Grave.
While you are at Duntroon I also recommend a stop at :-
Changi Chapel and the ANZAC Memorial Chapel of St Paul. Click on links to see my review of each.
The Australian Capital Territory Government has, of late, taken the view that the citizenry of Canberra needs more art and culture. This has, to a large degree, manifested itself in a plethora of new statutory most of which is lacking in any sort of taste, art or culture or whatsoever. The shot-gun approach however does mean that a least a few of the new statues will hit the mark. The subject of this review, Sir Robert Menzies' statue, is one of those which certainly hits the mark for me.
A significant number of ex-Prime Ministers have had Canberra suburbs named after them. Not Menzies though which is rather ironic as he is one of the handful of Prime Ministers who have actively supported the growth and development of Canberra – a true apostle for the city. In fact, Menzies specifically requested that a suburb not be named after him. Instead this life-size figurative bronze statue by Peter Corlett was unveiled in 2012 in Commonwealth Park alongside Lake Burley Griffin which he championed the creation of, and dedicated in 1964. Menzies was very much at home here and enjoyed many long contemplative walks along this lakeshore - now called the R.G Menzies Walk.
Sir Robert was Australia's longest serving prime minister - his two periods in office totalled 18 years, five months and 10 days. That said, Menzies is more celebrated in Canberra for his development of the capital than for his longevity in office. On the unveiling of the statue the current Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, stated “For those of us who call this lovely place home, it was Sir Robert's ambition to develop Canberra as a worthy national capital that will be regarded as his most visible and enduring contribution” while Opposition Leader, Tony Abbot, described him as “the capital's greatest builder and supporter.'
Within Menzies’ second term as the Prime Minister, Canberra’s population grew from 28,000 in 1954 to 93,000 in 1966 and in addition to the creation of the Lake Burley Griffin in 1964, a number of significant cultural institutions including the National Library and the Canberra Theatre Centre were founded during this period.
Peter Corlett (all of whose work I admire for its realistic subject interpretation) has three others works in Canberra - Sir Edward ''Weary'' Dunlop and Simpson and His Donkey at the Australian War Memorial and Prime Minister John Curtin and Treasurer Ben Chifley in the Parliamentary Triangle.
See this statue on your walk around Lake Burley Griffin.%l8
Why don’t people promenade any more?
I took stroll though Commonwealth Park last Saturday morning and was somewhat taken aback by the paucity of people out enjoying this beautiful park. I often wonder (and I have been here 12 years), as do visitors, where do Canberrans go at weekends. Why are they not the out enjoying the delights of this great city? Their loss is the visitor’s gain.
Commonwealth Park, located on the northern side of the central basin of Lake Burley Griffin took shape in the 1960’s when the lake was created and it became the city’s premier garden. It stretches from Commonwealth Avenue (Bridge) to around the southern end of Anzac Parade.
This park is a very well maintained and beautiful garden- 34.5 hectares - with its own mini lake – Nerang Pool. It is well laid out with numerous paths, seats and a kids play area. In addition to its horticultural beauty, the park contains many other sites of interest to the visitor including the National Capital Exhibition, Captain Cook Memorial Fountain and Memorial Globe, Blundell’s Cottage, and a number of pleasant sculptures including one of former Prime Minister Robert Menzies on what is now called the RG Menzies Walk along the lake shoreline.
While I normally only give tips on things that I have personally seen or experienced, with your indulgence, I will make an exception here. There is one piece of artwork in the park that you won’t see – a set of six polished aluminum tetrahedrons by Bert Flugelman, similar to his work in the sculpture garden at the National Gallery of Australia but buried permanently in March 1975 in a trench( close the the Kangaroos pictured here) for reasons not explained by the artist.
The large (39metres) flagpole, which you will see in the park, is a gift from the Canadian government and Canadian timber industry – a douglas fir weighing some 7.1 tonnes. If you happen to the in Park on 1 July (Canada Day) you will note that the Australian flag which normally flies on the pole is replaced with the Canadian flag.
The annual springtime Floriade Festival (not to be missed) turns a large part of the park into a sea of colour derived from the million plus bulbs and annuals planted just for the festival.
Highly recommended for visitors (and any locals reading this tip!)
The National Emergency Services Memorial was dedicated by Prime Minister, John Howard, on 12 July 2004 to honour those who have served and were injured or died in Australia’s emergency management and service organisations.
The raised wall symbolises comfort warmth and shelter while the three dimensional frieze of images reflect the diversity of emergency personnel and their experiences. The frieze is a visual expression of a story and experience of national emergency management based on the underlying principles of Prevent, Prepare, Respond, Recover.
The east face of the memorial wall is highly polished revealing words that embody the values and professionalism of the emergency services personnel.
Australia, as many readers will know, is a land prone to significant natural disasters in particular flooding and fire both with often devastating consequences. The concept of a memorial was translated to a reality following the tragic loss of lives in the Victorian bushfires of late 1998.
Emergency services honoured here include but are certainly not limited to paramedics, fire, police and State Emergency Service, search and rescue, welfare services, community response and help agencies, animal rescue and environmental protection personnel – a very wide cross section of society.
This Memorial located between Commonwealth Park and Kings Park and at the southern end of Anzac Parade and about 100m from the edge of Lake Burley Griffen and Blundells Cottage.
This memorial commemorates the 700 plus Australian police officers who have been killed on duty or who have died as a result of their duties – since Australian policing first begun. The names of the officers who died are inscribed on a bronze commemorative wall. The first policeman to die on duty was Constable Joseph Luker, aged 38, who was bludgeoned to death in Sydney on on 26 August 1803.
I find the symbolism of this memorial very moving. A large stone paved area tilts downwards to reflect the uncertain path police tread as they go about their day to day duties, the random placement of the plaques containing officers names on the commemorative wall reflects the arbitrary nature of loss and the fact that many plaques have been left blank is a stark reminder that future tragedy is inevitable.
The memorial is worth visiting at night as each engraved plaque is individually back-lit, providing an effect similar to that of a candlelit vigil in memory of those who have fallen. I should take a night-time photo for readers. In fact at some stage I will do a separate tip on Lake Burley Griffen by night. All the buildings and monuments in the Parliamentary Triangle are very tastefully illuminated at night. Do go and have a look.
While most of the memorials in this area commemorate historical events and the list of dead is closed this one, sadly, remains very much a work in progress. Take a minute or two to reflect on this.
Unveiled by Prime Minister, John Howard on Police Remembrance Day, 29 September 2006. This is my favourite (if that is the correct word to use with memorials) of all the memorials in Canberra and as such especially recommended for a visit.
The Memorial is in Kings Park and directly across from the entrance to Aspen Island and the National Carillon (100m walk up a slight incline).