Imagining Canberra


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2013, 70 Minutes. Total Running Time: 80 Minutes

Drawing from the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia's records and the Film Australia Collection, Imagining Canberra showcases rare and digitally restored films that explore the history and culture of Australia's capital city. The films cover 50 years of documentary making and feature the work of famous early filmmakers including Raymond Longford, Bert Ive and Ernest Higgins.


The Naming of the Federal Capital of Australia (1913, 20 mins) On the morning of Wednesday 12 March 1913, 500 invited guests, over 700 mounted and artillery troops and a public crowd of over 3000 locals came to witness the formal naming of Canberra. Foundations stones were laid by the Governor General, Lord Thomas Denman, the Prime Minister Andrew Fisher and the Minister for Home Affairs, King O’Malley. The national anthem and Psalm 100 were played and Lady Gertrude Denman announced the much anticipated chosen name for the new-born federal capital. And so Canberra’s life began…

Opening of the Federal Parliament House (1927, 17 mins) The formal opening of Parliament House took place on 9 May 1927. Radio stations across the country broadcast the event to over one million people. Thousands of people travelled to Canberra to attend the event; invited guests included state and federal politicians and their wives, senior military officials, diplomats and religious leaders. The unofficial audience comprised over 15,000 members of the public who camped out in the paddocks around the building before the event. The film includes footage of civil and military aircraft flying over the opening while the Field Battery thunders a royal salute from the hill; the Duke and Duchess of York arriving in a horse-drawn carriage, with an enthusiastic crowd cheering their progress.

Guide to Canberra (1958, 17 mins) An overview highlighting the many facets of Canberra, the nation's capital  The film shows the city and outskirts from above as well as the various modes of transport used to arrive and navigate through the city. Parliament House and Canberra's many administrative buildings are shown and the three armed forces are represented. The RAAF base, Fairburn, Duntroon Military College and the National War Memorial (now the Australian War Memorial) feature. Canberra's many churches and religious buildings set amidst flowering trees are shown with the free distribution of shrubs to locals also highlighted.

The Canberra Lake Springtime Sixty-Four (1965, 14 mins) Canberra, the national capital of Australia, has an artificial lake in the centre of the city, which was made by damming the Molonglo River. The lake was designed by American landscape architect Walter Burley Griffin, who won the competition to design the city of Canberra. The film shows the planning, construction and inauguration of Lake Burley Griffin, the official opening in 1964 by the Prime Minister Sir Robert Menzies and the use of the lake for water sports.


Australian Diary: Play Centre Idea is Popular in Canberra (1949, 3 mins) A look at recreation activities for young children in Canberra including the distribution of books by Canberra's National Library of Australia to four local play centres. The film shows children in the play centres reading as part of their daily activity, with older children reading to those too young to read. Other centre activities are shown such as folk dancing at the Ainslie play centre, a pet parade and an excursion to a local indoor pool with shots of children swimming.

Australian Diary: Canberra Dog Fanciers Parade Their Pets (1950, 2 mins) The gardens of the home of the High Commissioner for the United Kingdom plays host to the Championship Show of the Canberra Kennel and Trial Association. Several breeds of dogs are paraded before the judge, Harold Norman. Collies, Scotch Terriers, Kelpies and a Dachshund feature amongst other breeds and a small girl plays with a basketful of Corgi puppies.

Australian Diary: Canberra is Now Australia's Garden City (1950, 3 mins) Spring in Australia’s capital city, Canberra heralds widespread displays of blossoming trees and shrubs. The film shows trees in full bloom amidst Canberra's landmark buildings as well as a suburban garden brimming with daffodils. The leisurely pursuits of horseriding and golf are partaken in the midst of flowering  displays and children enjoy feeding spring lambs in Canberra's countryside.

Digital Restoration of The Naming of the Federal Capital - Before and After (2013, 4 mins)

Audio Commentary for The Naming of the Federal Capital of Australia (1913)

© 2013 National Film and Sound Archive of Australia


Producers: Jane Cruickshank, Jennifer Coombes

Year: 2013

Total Running Time: 80 Minutes

Classification: Exempt from classification

Region: 0



SKU 201300100
Brand Film Australia

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