Ten odd things you probably didn’t know about Australia’s capital Canberra. By David Whitley
1. When the provisional national parliament opened in 1927, it was lumped in the middle of a barren-looking paddock.
2. While many ofCanberra’s streets and suburbs are named after politicians, Callister St in Theodore pays tribute to a true Australian legend: Dr Cyril Callister, the inventor of Vegemite.
3. 137 entries were received from 15 different countries to design Australia’s new capital city in 1912.
4. In the language of the Ngunnawal people,Canberra supposedly means either “meeting place” or “women’s breasts.” The former is generally thought correct, although a look at Mt Ainslie andBlackMountainfrom the right angle could suggest otherwise.
5. While American Walter Burley Griffin took all the credit for designing the city, his wife Marion did all the drawings presented to the assessors.
6. Before Canberra was finally settled upon, MPs and senators had recommended Albury, Tumut, Orange and Dalgety as the site for the capital.
7. Lake Burley Griffin was nearly a disaster – the initial filling was attempted during a drought, which attracted swarms of mosquitoes.
8. If the wrong name had been picked from the list of nominations, our capital could now be known as Sydmelperadbrisho, Kangaremu or Gonebroke.
9. The 40m Douglas Fir that forms the capital’s biggest flagpole was a rather cumbersome gift from Canada. For want of anywhere else big enough, it had to spend several days submerged inSydneyHarbourfor quarantine reasons.
10. The Captain Cook Memorial Jet on Lake Burley Griffin can send water up to 147m into the air.