Volunteer Guides play an integral part in the education of visitors about the role special importance and history of the National Capital and in promoting the city’s attributes.
Ian Galbraith, Volunteer Guide
“Through my whole working life I never once woke up and didn’t want to go to work.”
Originally from Melbourne, Ian’s first job, in 1942 at the age of 16, was as a metal polisher. His second job was as a coil winder before he was accepted into a five-year Electrical Mechanic apprenticeship. In 1971 his company moved him to Canberra as Assistant General Manager. A few years later he went into a more hands-on job installing traffic signals, security systems and access control units. Ian installed the second set of traffic signals in Canberra, on Commonwealth Avenue.
In 2003, three years after his retirement, Ian’s daughter encouraged him to go along to an information session for prospective volunteers at the NCE. By the end of the presentation he knew it was for him. The thing Ian remembers most fondly about the past 13 years of volunteering is the friendly environment and the staff. In turn, the staff like and respect Ian and can see what a wonderful rapport he has with students. Ian is a people person and enjoys talking to visitors – young, old, everyone. His favourite part of the NCE is the Canberra Sound and Light Display. This model demonstrates Griffin’s geometric design and original plans for the city, and shows Canberra as it is today. Ian also enjoys telling people about Marion Mahoney Griffin, wife of Walter Burley Griffin, who was instrumental in the creation of the winning design for Canberra. He says that it took many years for Marion to be recognised for the true value of her contribution.
Kathleen Berg, Volunteer Guide
“We share the stories of Canberra with others and they share their stories with us.”
Born in Sydney, raised in Brisbane and coming from a long line of successful, hard working women, Kathleen Berg grew up knowing ‘girls can do whatever they put their minds to’. Daring to challenge the status quo, she chose to follow in her father’s footsteps and became a Civil Engineer, one of very few females in the field at that time.
Kathleen lived for six years in Papua New Guinea eventually working as the City Engineer for Port Moresby, with a break in London for her Post Graduate studies. In the 1980s and 90s Kathleen had two stints in Malaysia. On the first, her husband was on a Colombo Plan Aid posting, while on the second, they both were working as engineers. Kathleen has travelled all over Australia, living as far North as Cairns and as far South as Moruya. Since marrying her husband Harry in 1967, they have moved house over 20 times. They returned to Canberra in 1998, settling for good, and have travelled the world in their retirement.
Throughout her life, Kathleen has volunteered in many ways, including for Scouts, Girl Guides, School Committees, the 2000 Olympics and also for the Heart Foundation, and leading walks at Floriade. Kathleen’s many hobbies include stamp and coin collecting, embroidery and knitting but her biggest love, other than her husband, three children and seven grandchildren, is walking.
Harry and Kathleen started the Canberra Walking Festival (Running is not permitted!) in 1992, an annual event later to become an internationally accredited festival; 50 international visitors attended in 2018. The group also run fortnightly walks. Their motto is “Fun, fitness and friendship through walking.” Harry and Kathleen were awarded OAMs in 2013 for their services to recreational walking.
Kathleen first heard about volunteering for the National Capital Authority when the program was in its infancy and she joined in 2000 in the very first Interpretive Volunteer intake. Being a Guide ticked all of her boxes: walking; meeting new people; and sharing stories. Soon Kathleen realised the power she had to positively influence people’s view of Canberra.
Kathleen has really enjoyed her experience guiding over the past 18 years, leading tours of Anzac Parade, Reconciliation Place and Blundells Cottage. As the daughter of a returned World War II Rats of Tobruk soldier, Kathleen particularly sees the importance in sharing the messages from Anzac Parade with young people.
Anne Bryant, Volunteer Guide
“I like to feel like I am helping to educate children and adults about the value of our capital city. It is very rewarding to show off its interesting and diverse attractions. So many tourists comment on how little they knew about Canberra and how impressed they are after having been here.”
Originally from Perth WA, Anne trained as a nurse and qualified as a theatre sister before sailing to England on board the P&O Arcadia on a ‘boomerang ticket’. This was a cheap fare with a condition that the traveller had to return to Australia within 18 months.
While in England, Anne met and married Chris, an Englishman. The following year Chris accepted a role as a lecturer at the Australian National University in Canberra. After the couple arrived in Canberra, Anne and Chris decided to make the city their permanent home. They raised their two children there and now have five grandchildren.
When Anne joined the NCA as a guide in 2010, she was looking for something different in a volunteering role. She had done a wide variety of volunteering work and always enjoyed it and the NCA program presented a new challenge.
Over the past seven years, Anne has committed to a weekly four-hour session at the NCE, mainly leading one-hour education programs with interstate school groups to teach them about the special importance of Canberra.
She also enjoys the challenge of taking tours of Blundells Cottage on a regular basis, and of the National Carillon on special occasions. In addition to this, Anne tried her hand at a specially developed two-hour tour around the Parliamentary Triangle for the Magna Carta’s 800th anniversary. All of these tours involve training and background reading.
Anne has always enjoyed early Australian history and finds the history of Canberra particularly interesting. She says that among the benefits of NCA volunteering is the chance to meet such a wide cross section of people.
“I have lived in Canberra for 54 years and it has been a great experience to watch this city develop. Things such as the filling of Lake Burley Griffin, the installation of the first traffic lights on major roads like Barry Drive and Northbourne Avenue, and collecting mushrooms in the empty paddocks of Belconnen, all make me realise just how far this city has come in such a short time. Volunteering with the NCA allows me to tell others about this privileged experience.”