The R G Menzies Walk was named in acknowledgement of Sir Robert Menzies' crucial contribution to the development of Australia's national capital, Canberra.
Four plaques outlining Menzies' career and role in the development of Canberra are located along the path. During his second term as Prime Minister (1949-66), Menzies committed his government to the task of creating a capital worthy of the nation. This was at a time when Canberra's fortunes were arguably at their lowest ebb. Menzies declared his intention to 'build up Canberra as a capital in the eyes and minds of the Australian people'. In mid 20th century Australia this was no easy task. Menzies' earlier view of Canberra as a place of exile and isolation mirrored that of many Australians. Canberra was mischievously dismissed as 'a cemetery with lights', 'the ruin of a good sheep station' and 'six suburbs in search of a city'.
Through a series of bold and ambitious decisions, Menzies committed his government to the original vision of a unique city - an 'ideal city', as Walter Burley Griffin called it - and set about enacting legislation to achieve it. In 1954-5, a Senate Select Committee of Enquiry report led to the crucial establishment of the National Capital Development Commission (NCDC), under (Sir) John Overall, which had the legislated status and budget to make a difference. In his memoirs, Overall recalled the inspirational social, political and economic convergences: '[Canberra] had the support of a powerful leader looking to make his mark on history. The country was in the midst of the most stable period of government in its short history, the economy was booming and the development of the city had been placed under the control of a single authority'. Menzies' contribution to the renewed city went well beyond the establishment of the NCDC. He and Dame Pattie Menzies made the Lodge their home, Deakin and Forrest their neighbourhood, and Canberra their city.
Since its opening, the R G Menzies Walk has become a well used 4.5m wide walkway along the northern foreshore of Lake Burley Griffin. At over 2 kilometres in length along the lake edge, the R G Menzies Walk has proved to be popular with both visitors and Canberrans alike. The new promenade path has enhanced the experience and amenity of Commonwealth Park and Kings Park, as well as the views around the central basin of Lake Burley Griffin and across to the Parliamentary Zone.
R G Menzies Walk was developed and managed by the National Capital Authority on behalf of the Australian Government.