We’re in Canberra, Australia’s national capital, and the city where I grew up. It’s 40 years this month since my parents moved their young family from Melbourne to Canberra – and boy, has it changed in those 40 years!
For those who don’t know Australia’s history, when the separate colonies federated in 1901 to form the Commonwealth of Australia, the rivalry between Sydney and Melbourne was such that it was agreed that the capital of the new nation should be a new city, established between the two large cities. The site and name for Canberra was announced in 1913, but then the First World War interrupted development, and it wasn’t until the 1920s that things really got underway, with the building of Parliament House, various government offices, and accommodation for workers and public servants and the growing town.
The history of the city is on my mind, as on this visit we’re staying in Olim’s Hotel Canberra, which was the original Hotel Ainslie, and built in the 1920s to accommodate Members of Parliament and senior public servants. It opened in time for the grand opening of Parliament House, and many distinguished guests stayed here for that occasion. It’s been restored and renovated over the years, and is now a lovely place to stay.
Here are a couple of views of the courtyard from our balcony:
We’re heading off now to walk down the avenue into the city – we’re about three blocks from the city centre, but in a quiet area. We’re meeting my sister for coffee in a huge shopping mall, the most recent extension of which is only a year or so old. Back when I lived in Canberra, my first part-time job was in the city centre, in a department store which is no longer there, and the city centre was almost dead some evenings. But Canberra’s population has grown rapidly over the years: just 80,000 when we moved here in 1968; a little over 200,000 when I moved away to Armidale in 1988; and now around 350,000 – with all the shops, businesses, and busy-ness that entails!
It’s the morning of Christmas Eve. I’ll try and post again, perhaps with some more photos, but if I get caught up in family fun, I might not get a chance before tomorrow – so best wishes to everyone for a joyful Christmas. May there be much love and laughter in your day!