The Lodge in Canberra.
When the guns fell silent on this day in 1918, the world began ledgering the indeterminate cost of pitting the industrial machinery of war - tanks, artillery, machineguns and airborne bombs - against the arcane cavalry and infantry charge.
So many millions of dead and missing. And a generation of millions who endured postwar lives in England, Germany, France, Canada, New Zealand and Australia with the scars that could never heal.
In global terms, Australia's loss was small: about 60,000 dead (including about 18,000 who remain missing or could not be identified upon death on the Western Front), and another 155,000 wounded.
Illustration: David Rowe
But for a fledgling federated democracy with a population of fewer than 5 million, the impact was catastrophic.
The capital, Canberra, had been named with rallying optimism in March 1913. But the war that atrophied a generation of Australian men had a similar profound impact on how the purpose-built capital might come to symbolise the ideals, hopes and egalitarianism of a new nation.
Outside the capital, it has long been disdainfully viewed as an insider preoccupation to rake over the symbolic meaning of Canberra's urban, monumental and bush landscape.
But the real story of Canberra's genesis is not some fairytale of comfortable life in ''the bubble''. It is a gritty post-World War I yarn about a nation that was stoically mourning its lost while soberly getting on with a practical task of nation-building.
Indeed, the way Canberra was sculpted is more embodiment of a sombre postwar consciousness than the universally celebrated atmosphere of peace from which the federation grew. It's worth recalling here that other nations (remember Gettysburg and the Bastille?) had far more painful births in cordite and cold steel.
Chicago landscape architect Walter Burley Griffin planned his Canberra as a city for a country of ''bold democrats''. At the southern end of his notional land axis (for those who live elsewhere, it intersects with the water axis on the lake that bears his name) was to be his ''Capitol''. At the other end, beneath Mount Ainslie, was Griffin's ''Casino''.
Griffin failed hopelessly to adequately articulate his capitol's purpose, beyond it being a sort of national clearing house, a forum-like meeting place to celebrate Australian history and serve as repository for its archives. It was to stand, geographically and therefore symbolically, above the legislature. Homes for the prime minister and the governor-general were also sited just below the capitol on Kurrajong (today's Capital) Hill.
Griffin envisaged his casino as a European-style pleasure garden incorporating a theatre, alfresco restaurants and a beer garden.
But the impact of the losses of Gallipoli and the Western Front changed everything. Australia's empire-centric planners wanted no such European fuss.
Most of those grieving, meanwhile, would never get near the soil of the Dardanelles, the Somme or Flanders, which took their boys and men. So instead of a beer garden, restaurants and a theatre, Mount Ainslie's foot became home to the Australian War Memorial, a place for the grieving to mourn the lost and to acknowledge those who endured.
Kurrajong Hill was largely untouched until ''new'' Parliament House opened in 1988. Reflecting the postwar austerity that nearly scuttled Canberra completely, in 1917 Australia instead won a ''temporary'' parliament down the hill. It lasted 60 years.
No casino. And no expensive fancy capitol.
But the war memorial and the Parliament symbolise Australia's history as it happened, not as it was envisaged. And the land axis today has come to represent enduring national sentiment.
At one end, the Parliament lends the city its unwarranted infamy. At the other stands the country's foremost secular shrine. The reviled and the revered. Those who decide on war. And those who are sent to fight it. It's worth considering today.
And what of the Prime Minister's Lodge? It too ended up as a temporary structure at 5 Adelaide Avenue, Deakin. Better land was set aside elsewhere. There's now a proposal to relocate The Lodge to Attunga Point right on the lake. And an admirably ambitious $120,000 contest to design a beautiful, new, permanent prime ministerial home for a new century of federation upon it.
Don't hold your breath. More renovations of the original Lodge are about to start. A new PM's home is hypothetical until the punters get the politicians they reckon they deserve.