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Canberra is the only city in Australia the design of which was the subject of an international competition.

The Federal Capital Design Competition was launched on 24 May 1911.

Australia was a new and relatively unknown nation in the southern hemisphere a long way from the developed nations of the world. In those days travel to Australia was by steam ship and slow. This meant that overseas entrants in the competition would be unlikely or unable to visit the site for the Capital they were planning.

Contestants were sent detailed information and descriptions of the site, including hand coloured reproductions of cycloramic paintings of the area and a contour map on which the ground plan of the city was to be drawn.

In addition, large scale models of the city site were exhibited in London and in British embassies and consulates in Berlin, Cape Town, Chicago, New York, Ottawa, Paris, Pretoria, Washington and Wellington.

Some 137 entries were received and placed on display in the ballroom of Government House, Melbourne.

On 23 May 1912 the designs by three finalists were announced. They were those by Walter Burley Griffin of Chicago, USA, Eliel Saarinen of Finland and Alfred Agache of France.

  Walter Burley Griffin

Griffin's aim was to obtain unity by applying the natural advantages of the landform to the civic necessities. How well he combined the distant mountains, local hills, valleys and waterways can best be viewed from Mount Ainslie Lookout or Telecom Tower on Black Mountain.
Griffin's words make interesting reading:

...The site may be considered an irregular amphitheatre with Mount Anslie at the north-east, flanked by Black Mountain and Mount Pleasant all forming the top galleries; with the slopes to the water, the auditorium - the waterway and flood-basin, the arena; with the southern slopes reflected in the basin, the terraced stage and setting of monumental Government structures sharply defined rising tier on tier to the culminating highest internal hill, Capital Hill; and with Mugga Mugga, Red Hill and the blue distant mountain ranges forming the back scene of the theatrical whole..."

Dominating Griffin's plan was a central artificial lake and a 'parliamentary triangle' in which the most important national buildings were to be placed. The surrounding residential areas had a geometric street pattern, circular and radial in shape, all fitting well into the general


On 12 March, Canberra was formally named at the laying of a foundation stone on Capital Hill. Griffin arrived in October as Federal Director of Design and Construction - development of the city was ready to begin.


CANBERRA -- In July 1972, the federal government used the Commonwealth Police to violently dismantle the Aboriginal Tent Embassy settlement of about 20 tents and hundreds of protesters. July 30 marked 25 years since the dismantling of this first embassy, yet the Aboriginal Embassy is still going strong. Green Left Weekly spoke to the current activists resident at the embassy about the past, present and future of what is now a -- heritage listed -- sacred site.

The establishment of the original embassy came five years after the formal granting of citizenship rights to Aboriginal people following the 1967 referendum.

During the same period, land rights had emerged as the dominant demand through both the Gurindji claim and Wave Hill walk-off in the late '60s, and NT Justice Blackburn's ruling in the Yirrkala decision, which held that Australian law did not recognise traditional title to land.

These events helped to reinforce the demands for recognition that: Australia had been invaded and no treaty had ever been reached; the European concept of terra nullius or empty land was a lie on which colonisation was based; and land rights should include a compensation component -- later known as “pay the rent."

We will not forget
We will not go away
We will not be silent
We will not die
We will fight
and we will survive
Aboriginal Sovereignty
Always was and always will be.

Isabell Coe


The Aboriginal Tent Embassy In Canberra, Australia wishes to state the following in the memory of our Ancestors and the survival of our much loved people.
To those who are in denial of the true meaning of the Federation, this is to remind you that a war began in this continent in 1788 by the British Crown against unarmed human beings, who will continue to stand, defending our sacred lands, as our ancestors did before us.

The original Colonial Validation Acts (setting up the colonies) never gained informed consent from original owners. These illegal colonies were then combined to form the Federation of States in
1901, without consultation with the 500 Aboriginal
Nations, who are the custodians of the most sacred Lore/Law on earth, caretakers and guardians of this Country, Sacred Land of the Dreaming, now known as Australia.

From 1770 to 1992 the acts of invasion were perpetuated under the legal myth of terra nullius (land belonging to no one).

In 1992 the continuation of this cover up came in the guise of the Churches attempt to exonerate their guilt under the smoke screen of Reconciliation which also urges Aboriginal people of the continent and Aboriginal Nations to embrace multiculturalism. Yet multiculturalism does not embrace and recognise Aboriginal Sovereignty.

Today, illegal aliens celebrate the one hundred years of these notorious legal fictions which attempt to legitimize occupation of our lands and the continued attempt of genocide.

Australia is one of the last countries in the world that still has a Racially Discriminatory Constitution.