1964: A Capital Collection Exhibition Open

Fireworks over Lake Burley Griffin with the National Library and Commonwealth Bridge in the background.
Fireworks over Lake Burley Griffin with the National Library and Commonwealth Bridge in the background.
Media type

26 July 2013

A temporary exhibition showcasing the inauguration of Lake Burley Griffin in 1964 through fashion is now on display at the National Capital Exhibition.

This is the third, in a series of exhibitions called 'A Capital Collection ñ Our History in Fashion' looking at the story of Canberra through fashion.

National Capital Authority (NCA) Curator, Ms Roslyn Hull, said the 1964 collection was inspired by a National Capital Development Commission film called 'Canberra Springtime 64' and from photographs of the day.

'The Canberra Springtime 64 film is on display in the exhibition. It features the inauguration of Lake Burley Griffin on 17 October 1964 by the Prime Minister Sir Robert Menzies,' Ms Hull said.

'It was a sunny Spring day but the breeze kept picking up - so invited guests decked out in their finery may have been slightly envious of the crowds of Canberrans who came to watch, wearing their sensible jackets and woollen pinafores. Regatta Point was covered in people to hear the Prime Minister talk about how the lake linked together the Griffin Plan and cemented the idea of Canberra as important to Australia as its capital,' she said.

Items on display for 'A Capital Collection' include a case containing a Sea Scouts hat, a small Cub hat, several gentlemen and women's hats. Some of the women's hats are from well-known Canberra millinery label Tracey Lord. A typical sixties, bright pink coat dress and matching petal hat is also displayed, along with a checked woollen pinny and skivvy, with a cunning little helmet hat and wicker handbag to match.

Daughter of Prime Minister Sir Robert Menzies, Heather Henderson loaned the Kings Avenue bridge ceremonial key for display in the exhibition. The key was presented to her father at the opening of the Kings Avenue bridge.

Several photographs are exhibited including a three page spread from the Womans Weekly and archival NCA images of the lake under construction.

Ms Hull invites the public to bring in their own photos of the inauguration.

We would love the public show us their own photos of the day, which we can scan and add to the big photo as a celebration of the lake,' Ms Hull said.

'We have photos taken by local Canberrans in 1964 on display, including a print of a 35mm slide taken by an NCA volunteer. This photos is from Mount Pleasant and shows the completed lake, but the rains have not yet filled it,' she said.

NCA Chief Executive Gary Rake said 'A Capital Collection' depicts snapshots of Canberra's history through a series of milestones events.

'One of the NCA's roles is to inform and educate Australians about the significance of Canberra as National Capital. A Capital Collection tells part of that story in a new way,' Mr Rake said.

'This is a good opportunity to show visiting family and friends a bit of the history and development of our National Capital as well as experience other interesting features of the National Capital Exhibition, as we help celebrate Canberra's centenary,' he said.

The final exhibition later this year will feature the fashion the opening of Parliament House in 1988 (on display 19 September to 16 December).

'A Capital Collection ñ Our History in Fashion' is on display at the National Capital Exhibition, Barrine Drive, Commonwealth Park until 16 December 2013. The exhibition is open 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday and 10am to 4pm weekends (closed public holidays except Canberra Day and Australia Day). Entry is free.