ACT News


It's all water under the bridge now

Idyllic Canberra was chosen for the federal capital site in spite of sustained opposition from the Sydney weekly The Bulletin. For all sorts of reasons, The Bulletin was fanatically pro-Dalgety. One hundred years ago, and even though the battle was now lost (the Canberra site was chosen and debate was raging about what name the city would be given), The Bulletin, sulking, was still scathing about the Canberra site. One hundred years ago this very week, it published this delightful, Canberra-bashing cartoon.

The Bulletin had always argued that a city at Canberra couldn't succeed because there was no water there. It insisted the Cotter, the place's water source, wasn't a river but was only a creek, and only an unreliable dribble of one. Dalgety by contrast had the surging, constant, Nile-sized, snow-fed Snowy River.

In this cartoon, ''Kink'' is the eminently cartoonable Minister for Home Affairs (and so minister for federal capital city matters) King O'Malley. The sceptical little boy (a little boy from Manly, his lip curled in disapproval of Canberra) is Australia. Silly man and sensible boy stand on opposite banks of the miserably thin and utterly dry Cotter Creek.

Kink is enthusing that this is the chosen site and the next thing will be the long-anticipated ''christening'' with the city's name. But baptisms need water and Australia wonders: ''Where you going to get the water from?''