Canberra Centenary Column Print Page Print this page

30-January-2015 (Russell Byers)
30-January-2015 (Russell Byers)

Photographs supplied by Peter Williams / Russell Byers

The Canberra Centenary Column was built to commemorate the city's centenary and unveiled on 11 March 2014.

The sculpture is an 8.5 metre stainless steel obelisk on a 5- metre-wide granite-dressed concrete base. The top of the base is inlaid with glass tiles and has a steel covering etched with images depicting Canberra's 100-year history. It was designed by local artist Geoff Farquhar-Still. The design was inspired by the "Commencement Column" that was proposed to have been built when Canberra was founded, but was never completed.

Encased in the base is a time capsule containing one hundred objects, both symbolic and mundane. The time capsule is intended to be opened in 100 years, during Canberra's bicentenary. The ACT Heritage Library and the National Film and Sound Archive have catalogues of the capsule's contents, and copies of some of the items.

A time capsule to be opened in a century has been sealed inside an 8.5 metre high obelisk on Canberra's City Hill. One hundred objects that tell the story of Canberra's first century have been locked away for another 100 years, inside a stainless steel sculpture that's been officially unveiled on City Hill. The $200,000 obelisk is a centenary gift to the city from Canberra CBD Limited, which represents property owners in the city, Braddon and Turner.

Local artist Geoff Farquhar-Still was inspired by the Canberra Commencement Column which was meant to be built on the three foundation stones laid as part of Canberra's naming ceremony on March 12, 1913. "What I was hoping to try and achieve," Mr Farquhar-Still explained, "was something that really sort of talked about the past ... and also potentially the future and bring a meeting place between those two things."

The sculpture rests on a concrete base clad in granite. It features acid etched images of Canberra and a row of tiles created by glass artist Liz Kelly that were inspired by the geometric designs of Walter Burley Griffin. A mirror polished five-sided pyramid sits at the top.

"So this is the bringing together of a whole of of digital and analogue technologies in the one piece of work," said Mr Farquhar-Still. "It's been a real challenge."

The obelisk was officially unveiled by Chief Minister Katy Gallagher on the last day of the centenary year. "We've grown up over the past 100 years," she said, "and having [the city] immortalised in this most spectacular column - it's lovely."

The 100 objects inside the time capsule were selected by a committee including representatives of Canberra CBD Limited and Craft ACT. Canberra CBD Limited chief executive officer Jane Easthope says every object tells its own story.  The collection ranges from rare and fascinating items, including a toe from the Skywhale prototype, to everyday pieces such as an ACT number plate and parking fine.

Anne Radimin, curator and exhibition manager at Craft ACT, says it the aim was to capture personal stories. "The individual stories, why people love this place, what makes it special and yeah - what it says about living in Canberra today," she said.

Geoff Farquhar-Still and the other artists and technicians who worked on the sculpture had the opportunity to slip their own secret objects inside the time capsule. "My wife and I are having a baby in June," he said. "We've written a letter to our daughter and included the ultrasound images. "So maybe [in] a hundred year's time, you never know she might still be alive. Wouldn't that be amazing."
ABC, Canberra, 11th March 2014.




Address:Vernon Circle, City Hill , Canberra , 2601
GPS Coordinates:Lat: -35.281457
Long: 149.129239
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
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Monument Type:Sculpture
Monument Theme:Landscape
Artist:Geoff Farquhar-Still, assisted by Dan Lorrimer, Sean Booth and Mitchell Brooks


Actual Monument Dedication Date:Tuesday 11th March, 2014
Front Inscription

Canberra Centenary Column

This sculpture has been gifted to the people of Canberra by Canberra CBD Limited on behalf of the commercial property owners in City, Braddon and Turner.

Launched by Kate Gallagher MLA, Chief Minister of the ACT on the last day of Canberra's centenary year 
11th March 2014

Sculptor Geoff Farquhar-Still, born 1973
Assisted by Dan Lorrimer, Sean Booth and Mitchell Brooks

Stainless Steel Granite

Left Side Inscription










Back Inscription

Within the base of the Canberra Centenary Column lies a time capsule containing 100 objects and stories representative of Canberrans in the city`s centenary year. Curated by Craft ACT and coordinated and sponsored by Canberra CBD Limited. Copies of contents are held in the ACT Heritage Library. 

The sculpture is inspired by the never completed Canberra Commencement Column now in front of Parliament House. Historical images are sourced from the collections of the National Library of Australia, The Australian War Memorial  and the National Archives of Australia. 

Launched by Katy Gallagher MLA, Chief Minister of the ACT on the last day of the Canberra's centenary year 11th March 2014 To be opened on the 12th March 2113

Canberra CBD Limited thanks the Canberra community, the ACT Government, The National Capital Authority, and Artillion for their contribution, with construction assistance by GHD, Acclaim Contractors and Pacific Stone.

Source: MA
Monument details supplied by Monument Australia - www.monumentaustralia.org.au