ACT News


David Pope draws on whimsy to celebrate Lake Burley Griffin

Resident political cartoonist at The Canberra Times David Pope has faced diverse creative challenges – from drawing our Prime Minister in Speedos to portraying the Skywhale balloon as the future of public transport in the capital.

But capturing the beauty, history and mysteries of Lake Burley Griffin in one commemorative illustration is proving a special challenge for the award-winning artist.

To celebrate the coming 50th anniversary of the lake that has help shaped Canberra's geography and identity, The Canberra Times will publish a souvenir poster of Pope's special visual tribute.

"I've been doing an hour here and an hour there for some time now, but all up I've spent about 30 to 40 hours on the project so far," he said of the detailed artwork.

"It's not going to be a very rational thing like a tourist map with all the institutions and tourist destinations listed, but more of a personal, whimsical and illustrative representation."

Pope, an avid kayaker, said he hoped the cartoonish elements of his lake tribute would appeal to proud Canberrans who had grown accustomed to living beside the lake for better or worse. 


"I'm going to try and capture a number of the lake's different elements; from our recreational use to the land that existed before it, as well as some of the environmental issues that have been debated in our paper over the years," he said.

Of course it wouldn't be a true representation of Lake Burley Griffin without visual references to carp, birdlife, sailing boats and even the Skywhale. 

"On one level the lake operates as a centrepiece for people visiting the town, but for people who live here it has a number of other values, whether it's as a recreation place or a site for contemplation," he said. 

Lake Burley Griffin was officially inaugurated by Prime Minister Robert Menzies on October 17, 1964.

Pope's illustration will be published in The Canberra Times to mark the 50th anniversary.

Readers may also buy a framed limited-edition reproduction of the artwork on archival paper, signed by Pope.