Countdown starts for party of the century

Countdown starts for party of the century

Let's get this party started - it's 100 days until Canberra dives into perhaps the biggest celebration of its history.

In 100 days, the city will focus on its much-loved Lake Burley Griffin to mark the 100th birthday of the naming of the national capital in festivities that will go on long into the night.

Chief Minister Katy Gallagher and Centenary of Canberra creative director Robyn Archer on Friday morning marked the start of the countdown.

Chief Minister Katy Gallagher and Centenary of Canberra creative director Robyn Archer on Friday morning marked the start of the countdown.Credit:Colleen Petch

And, in the grand tradition of a country that loves a long weekend, we're making sure the timing suits us.

Canberra's birthday, Tuesday, March 12, is a working day in the capital, so the big bash will actually be held on Monday, March 11, the traditional Canberra Day public holiday.


The March 11 party will feature everything from the world's longest champagne bar to performances by re-formed Canberra bands including Falling Joys and the Church, the performance of a symphony commissioned for the centenary and fireworks.

Chief Minister Katy Gallagher and Centenary of Canberra creative director Robyn Archer on Friday morning marked the start of the countdown by posing next to the big 100 on the lake, which, by March 11, will be teeming with tens of thousands of people on its shores and scores of boats on the water.

Ms Gallagher followed that up with a speech to the Walkley journalism awards dinner at Parliament House on Friday night in which she challenged all media ''to go the whole of 2013 without referring to the Federal Parliament as Canberra''.

''As you would all know, Canberra sometimes gets a bad rap and I think some, if not all of the blame, can be laid squarely at your profession's feet,'' she told the media crowd.

''Now I suspect you're all guilty of it - reporting that 'Canberra has today decided to do such and such' when referring to Federal Parliament decisions, making our city's name synonymous with politics and the goings on in these great houses of Parliament, with decisions that aren't always well received by our friends in Townsville, Toorak or Tamworth.''

Ms Gallagher told the gala dinner that the centenary was also about challenging perceptions of Canberra and celebrating it as a ''human city''.

''It's a home to doctors and plumbers, musicians and gardeners, driving instructors and even undertakers and - despite what most people actually think - it's home to just a few politicians,'' she said.

''Canberra is a great place to live, work, study and visit, and we Canberrans are very proud of how far we've come in our first 100 years.''

Meanwhile, Archer said while much of the centenary was about events that would have a lasting legacy, March 11 was all about having a great party.

''Unashamedly so,'' she said.

There was definitely momentum building around the centenary year.

''It feels very, very much on,'' Archer said.

The ''big 100'' for the photo shoot was made by local company Thylacine, which will also create a landscape of giant letters at Rond Terrace on March 11. The crowds will be encouraged to use the letters to form words on the banks of the lake.

Ms Gallagher said the centenary program included events and activities for everybody and most were free.

''On the birthday long weekend, there will be an amazing array of entertainment: Enlighten Canberra with its dramatic lighting effects on national institutions, the Famous Spiegeltent will make its Canberra debut, the balloon spectacular will take to the skies, the Black Opal Stakes and Canberra Cup will be held at Thoroughbred Park, a roaring '20s dance at Albert Hall and our Brumbies will play arch-rivals the Waratahs at Canberra Stadium,'' she said.

''On the birthday proper, when most Canberrans will be back at work after the Canberra Day long weekend, a mass synchronised toast to Canberra will be organised. In businesses, public service workplaces, shopping centres, schools, clubs and public places, Canberrans will be invited to come together as a local community to raise a 100th birthday toast to the national capital.

''It is hoped a formal ceremony at the Foundation Stone in front of Parliament House will be broadcast nationwide to a big audience across Australia on the morning of the centenary birthday.''

Ms Gallagher and Archer encouraged Canberrans to stay put in the national capital for the March long weekend and take part in what would be a ''once in a lifetime occasion''.

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