The Capital That Never Was

Canberra – it’s Australia’s national capital. The nation is governed from this city and it’s full of busy public servants and beautiful public buildings. Dalgety – it’s a tiny town in southern New South Wales with a population of just over 200. What could these two places possibly have in common? Surprisingly they share a historic link dating back to federation.

When the Constitution of Australia came into being on 1 January 1901, the six independent colonies of Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia and Tasmania formed the nation of Australia. There was considerable  discussion about where to place the national capital, and both Sydney and Melbourne lobbied heatedly for the position until a compromise was reached. The Australian Capital Territory would be created with a new purpose-built city planned and constructed inside its boundaries. The search for a suitable site ended in southern New South Wales, where Canberra is now located.

Canberra

It’s a little known fact however that the site where Canberra was established was not the first choice for our capital city. In 1903 the small town of Dalgety was chosen as the location for the new national capital. Its position on the Snowy River and its mild climate made Dalgety the perfect place for a city of such importance, but the Parliament of New South Wales, in typical Sydney-Melbourne rivalry, complained that Dalgety was too close to Melbourne and too far from Sydney. In actual fact, it was situated almost exactly half way between, but Parliament got its way and a site only 288 km from Sydney and 647 km from Melbourne was selected.

Walter Burley Griffin and his wife Marion Mahony Griffin, architects from Chicago, won the contest to design the city and construction began in  1913. Today Canberra is a picturesque city of parks and gardens, monuments and government buildings with the beautiful lake named after Burley Griffin at its centre.

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The Australian War Memorial

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The flagpole over Parliament House

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The Captain Cook Memorial Jet on Lake Burley Griffin

Canberra’s forgotten rival, Dalgety, is a tiny town with a few permanent residents, a single hotel  and its original police station.

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The old police station, no longer in use

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Buckley’s Crossing Hotel, on the main street of Dalgety

 An imposing timber and iron bridge spans the gentle waters of the Snowy River but, apart from our vehicle, the wide main street is deserted.

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Dalgety Bridge

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The Snowy River

Canberra and Dalgety – they’re worlds apart but linked forever by a common thread going back a hundred years. Where would you choose to live?

The Lost Town of Adaminaby

At the heart of the Snowy Mountains lies one of Australia’s highest towns. Adaminaby has a resident population of around 200, although its reputation as a haven for trout fishermen and lovers of winter sports means this pretty little town swells with tourists at any time of the year. It even has one of Australia’s famed “big things”.

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But this is not the original town of Adaminaby. In 1957 when Lake Eucumbene, nine times the capacity of Sydney Harbour, was created as part of the Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric scheme old Adaminaby lay in its way. More than a hundred buildings were moved nine kilometres to a new site while the rest were flooded as the lake filled the valley.

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Lake Eucumbene is the largest dam in the Snowy Mountains but when drought strikes and water levels drop the old town of Adaminaby begins to reveal itself again.

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At first glance the waterline looks like any other, strewn with water-worn pebbles. On closer inspection it’s not just stones which line the shore but evidence of the people who once lived here.

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Rusty nails and bolts, shards of china and fragments of glass are washed up on the edge of the lake. In some places these remnants have been gathered up and laid out as if in remembrance of the old town and its inhabitants.

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Everything is protected so treasure hunters will be disappointed. But the rest of us can look at these tiny gems from the past and imagine the town that was once here.

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Weekly Photo Challenge ~ Container

I just had to stop and admire the beautiful window displays in this clothing shop in Garmisch-Partenkirchen. The colours were bright and summery and I was charmed by the traditional Bavarian costumes.

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There was one interesting item which caught my eye. I’m sure it wasn’t a traditional Bavarian container!

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Weekly Photo Challenge ~ Relic

In the tiny town of Nimmitabel, not far from the Snowy Mountains, John Geldmacher began building this wind-driven flour mill in 1865. After seven years the mill was complete, but not long after it was finished John was told the mill was too close to a public road. It could not be used because the fans would frighten passing horses. So John removed the wind fans and ran the mill with horse power instead. The flour produced at the mill, from wheat grown in the fertile soil of the Monaro plains, was of the finest quality.

After only 13 years of production, the mill fell into disuse from 1885 and was left as a relic of the past until it was restored in the 1960s.

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Walking to the Top of Australia

When I was young, my family went on a caravanning holiday to the Snowy Mountains. While we were there we climbed Australia’s highest mountain, Mt Kosciuszko. Dad was able to drive to within 700 metres of the peak, and we left the car at Rawson’s Pass to walk up the track to the top.

That was more than 40 years ago and things have changed since then. Now, the closest car park to Mt Kosciuszko is at the alpine village of Thredbo and the mountain is almost 7 kilometres away. Thredbo is 1370 metres above sea level and it’s almost another 1000 metres higher at the summit.

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The journey to the top of Australia begins with the Kosciuszko Express Chairlift and it’s not just hikers who take advantage of the easy way up.

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There are 35 kilometres of mountain bike trails in the area and thrill-seekers take their bikes up on the chairlift and ride the twisting mountain trails down to the valley floor at hair-raising speeds.

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In contrast the chairlift takes 15 minutes to travel the 1.8 kilometres to the top of the ridge.

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A footbridge across Merritts Creek marks the start of the walking track to the summit and from here it’s a 6.5 kilometre hike, most of which is reasonably level. The metal pathway is raised off the ground and allows walkers to enjoy the heathland and alpine vegetation without causing any damage.

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DSCN1813Mt Kosciuszko, still bearing patches of snow in mid-summer, first appears in the distance about a third of the way along the track. From the Kosciuszko Lookout the mountain looks no higher than the surrounding peaks and has none of the craggy appearance of other peaks in the world. These ranges are some of the oldest on Earth and over millions of years they have worn away so that the highest point is only 2228 metres above sea level.

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The walking track makes its way across the alpine slopes past the headwaters of the Snowy River and Lake Cootapatamba, Australia’s highest lake and one of its five glacial lakes, to Rawson’s Pass where it meets up with that old road I remember.

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From there, it’s a short but steep walk up the original track for the last 1.67 kilometres. It spirals around the mountain until, finally, the summit is up ahead.

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For the second time in my life I’m standing on the top of Australia. It’s a great feeling…now I just have to walk back to Thredbo again.

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