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Today's Canberra

The Story of Canberra

Canberra Tourism


The Federal Government under Robert Menzies established the National Capital Development Commission (NCDC) to create a capital city of which all Australians would be proud.

The Commission had a four-fold task: to complete the establishment of Canberra as seat of government; to develop it fully as the administrative centre; to create the buildings, avenues, lakes, parks and other features appropriate to Australia's national capital and to design living areas with high standard of amenities and attractive surroundings.

In its first twenty years, NCDC was responsible for a number of major projects. Russell Offices for the Department of Defence were built flanking the Australian American Memorial at the end of Kings Avenue. Kings Avenue Bridge (1962) and Commonwealth Avenue Bridge (1963) provided dignified crossings which allowed Lake Burley Griffin to be formed in 1963. Anzac Parade was developed in 1965 to commemorate the jubilee of the Gallipoli campaign, the Royal Australian Mint ( 1965), the National Library ( 1968), the National Botanic Gardens, the Carillon and Captain Cook Memorial Jet (1970). Between 1961 and 1965 new office blocks, retail stores, banks, theatres and law courts filled in most of the empty areas around Civic Centre.

Canberra was growing so rapidly because of the transfer of Public Service departments in the 1960s that new residential areas had to be developed, either by increasing the density of the existing city - areas and allowing a sprawl of suburbs to take place as in other Australian cities; or by planning new towns (satellite cities) adjacent to North and South Canberra.


The first new town, Woden was begun 12 km south of Civic Centre and an adjoining valley, Weston Creek was later added to accommodate more than 60 000 people. Woden-Weston Creek today has its own town centre, a major employment area with around 8000 people currently engaged in government administration, retail and service trades activities.


Tuggeranong, the third new town, was commenced south of Woden-Weston Creek in a series of valleys, ridges and hills intersected by the Murrumbidgee River. Rugged mountain ranges often snow-capped in winter, provide a dramatic backdrop to Tuggeranong, which will eventually have a population of around 100 000.


Gungahlin, the fourth new town, north of Canberra City, was begun. So far only the Mitchell Industrial Estate has been developed, but eventually Gungahlin's population could grow to 85 000.

The four satellites are being built with many of the characteristics of independent cities with their own commercial employment and retail centres, each having the potential to develop its individual character. All are linked by a comprehensive transportation system including roads, cycleways and an intertown public transport network and each accommodates some of the national capital functions of Canberra.

Next: Capital City Functions

Adapted by Tom Worthington from the pamphlet "The Story of Canberra", with the permission of Canberra Tourism.

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This Web Site Was Moved Here, February 1999

Web page by Tom Worthington.

Note: This information is no longer being updated but has been retained for reference.