“Happy birthday honey, here’s an iron, and a bottle of my favourite wine you don’t drink… Let’s open it and celebrate!”
In the tradition of Homer buying Marge a bowling ball, or a husband buying his wife a touch of cosmetic surgery, Canberra looks set to commemorate Queanbeyan’s 175th birthday with a gift that won’t ever make it to NSW.
On Tuesday, the national capital will present its nearest neighbour with 1000 trees, planted entirely within the confines of the ACT.
Queanbeyan mayor Tim Overall, with all the grace of 175 years of the city’s wisdom, denied entirely Canberra’s gift was that of a selfish sibling, and instead described it as “thoughtful” and as creating “yet another enduring link of friendship” which will “beautify the entrance into Queanbeyan from the ACT”.
“I think the 1000 trees to be planted along the Canberra Avenue verges is most appropriate because it’s further linkage between the two cities,” he said.
The 1000 trees, most provided by Yarralumla Nursey, includes a mix of native and exotic varieties to be planted along the verges and the central median of Canberra Avenue, between Hindmarsh Drive at Fyshwick and HMAS Harman.
Admittedly having the trees on the ACT side of the border does save Queanbeyan the cost of maintenance – Chief Minister Katy Gallagher said they’d be cared for by ACT government contractors.
“The people of ACT and Queanbeyan have fostered a special relationship over the decades dating back to the early days when Canberra was working to establish itself as a city for people to call home. Queanbeyan provided Canberrans with access to shops and entertainment as well as lobbied for the city to become the nation’s capital,” the Chief Minister said.
Ms Gallagher will present the trees and unveil a sign with Councillor Overall to commemorate the occasion on Tuesday afternoon.
Of course Queanbeyan’s 175th isn’t the only significant milestone being celebrated this year.
Just a few weeks ago, in honour of Canberra’s 100th birthday, Queanbeyan bestowed upon its younger sibling the gift of time, in the form of a sundial designed by a renowned artist to shine a light (and cast a small shadow) on Canberra’s newest attraction, the National Arboretum.
Councillor Overall said the present represented time immemorial and the enduring relationship between the two cities.
“The idea for a sundial came a few years ago after a visit to the National Arboretum. My thought was that the gift should embody Queanbeyan’s early contribution to the development of Canberra, recognise the importance of the centenary and embrace our wholeness as a community,” he said at the time.