Canberra 100: A Very Big Day

2013 is a special year for Canberra. It’s the centenary of the decision to name Canberra the Australian Capital and a year’s worth of celebrations are planned.

The centrepiece of the centenary happened last week on the Canberra Day long weekend and it was one of those beautiful autumnal Canberra days where the sun shone, people gathered on Lake Burley-Griffin and we celebrated our beautiful city.


Sean and I took advantage of the special free bus services set up for the day and headed down to Regatta Point where these enormous white balloons hovered in the bluest of skies – they spelled out WELCOME and were effective in helping create a vibe of expectation and arrival.

From there we walked, with thousands of other people, around the lake, taking in the stunning views, enjoying the feeling of movement and life. To see so many people gathered in the open like that was pretty spectacular.

In the afternoon we had tickets to one of the key events of the day. The World’s Longest Bubbly Bar. All along the shoreline in front of the High Court and the National Library and Questacon, a fenced off area held an 800m long table at which those who had managed to get tickets (we bought early!) were treated to a glass or two of a special Centenary Sparkling wine and a tapas platter featuring local and very delicious produce.

bubbly bar

I took this as we first arrived, before the long tables had all been filled.

For over an hour we sat in the sun, a light breeze blowing in off the lake and took in the view. If there’s one thing I can say about the day it’s that this space on the lake is not used enough. What a treat it was to sit and eat and drink in the sun, with boats sailing past on which musicians played and celebrated! Why we don’t do more with this space is a mystery and I hope our centenary has shown us what more we can do with our city.


I of course had to knit.


Much has been written about the varying success of the day. It was never going to be everybody’s cup of tea. It was always going to be a bit unsure about meeting everyone’s vision. Tara of In the Taratory has written a good review of the day which captures some of what worked and what didn’t.

All in all I think the day worked really well – we certainly had a lovely time, though we were a bit sad we didn’t have Alice with us. We had decided already not to take her because of our tickets to the bubbly bar in the afternoon. But the rest of the day, with fun activities for children, lots of sunshine and blue sky and walking would have been great, though I understand some people felt that children were not well catered for. Some felt there were not enough structured activities but honestly, seeing thousands of people walk around the lake in bright sunshine was a memory I’ll keep with me for a long time. There should be more of it.

So happy birthday to my home, Canberra. Given we’re only 100 years old, I think we have a lot of scope to figure out more of what we want to be and how to do it.




16 thoughts on “Canberra 100: A Very Big Day

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  8. Good to meet you Helen. I’m sorry I missed Canberra’s special day (I was travelling that day). I agree with you – we need to have more life around our beautiful lake. Whenever I travel abroad, I’m always drawn to scenic spots with cafes and entertainment, and when I get back home, I’m constantly amazed at how QUIET it is around the lake.

  9. Beautiful photos as always, Bells. If it’s all the same, I’m not going to read the complainy bits. Anyone who has ever been a part of planning a public event, even on a small scale, knows the enormous amount of work that goes into it. I agree with you that cities should use their public areas. I think it’s something we do really well over here (or at least often, since events like that seem to happen regularly, year round). I hope y’all don’t have to wait another 100 years! I hope something like that becomes an annual event.

  10. Yes I ran the Sri Chinmoy 10km fun run that morning. It was a beautiful run alongside the lake. The weather was perfect. Such a pretty city. Thank you Canberra you are Australia’s best kept secret!

  11. I just love the idea of the bubbly bar. Such a great use of a beautiful spot.
    And your photo of the fluffy white W against the clear blue sky is great! You were blessed with great weather, very fitting!

  12. I think it sounds like a great day! I think people whine too much about things – if there is a whole year to celebrate, not every bit has to be all things to all people. I think it sounds fun!

  13. Excellent post. Positive too. Can’t believe the whingeing that went on afterwards. We had an awesome weekend, and I’m so proud of our city.

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