The photo is of the naming ceremony for our new national capital, Canberra, a century ago in 1913. Is it just me, or does it look like they are about to toss a coin in the photo? It was almost a case of having to do so because the name Canberra was the winner of a national competition to find an appropriate name – and boy, were there some doozies making the short list!
Politician King O’Malley (‘King’ was his name, not a title) organised the competition in 1911, two years before Walter Burley Griffin won the competition to design the city.
Some of the names suggested were Olympus, Paradise, Captain Cook, Eucalypta, Shakespeare, Myola and two curious amalgamations, Kangaremu and Sydmeladelperbriho.
‘Canberra’ was settled upon – one explanation for the Aboriginal meaning is that it was the name of the corroborees held during the bogong moth feasts each summer when they migrate from Queensland to the Snowy Mountains. It is far more likely that it comes from the Walgalu language and the word for ‘meeting place’.
The photo was taken at midday on March 12, 1913 when the city was officially given its name by Lady Denman at a ceremony on Capital Hill with Prime Minister Andrew Fisher in attendance. The other two VIPS are King O'Malley (Minister for Home Affairs) and Lady Denman's husband, Governor-General Lord Denman. The name 'Canberra' was written on a piece of paper and handed to Lady Denman for the announcement by O'Malley - even her hubby didn't know the name of the winning entry. The naming ceremony was quite an 'event' - there were 500 official guests and over 5000 people were there to watch.
Of course Rydges Capital Hill is not much further than a coin’s toss from the site, perfectly located for all you accommodation needs.