Build it and they will come.
A city from a dream, a lake from a drawing, and a party for all the people who have made Canberra what is was.
After years of planning, Canberra's Big Birthday Bash went like clockwork on Monday, with thousands of people flocking to the city's centrepiece, Lake Burley Griffin, from mid-morning onwards.
The guest of honour - 100-year-old Canberra - looked a treat, and even the weather behaved itself, with sunny skies and sparkles on the water.
It was, in short, exactly what organisers had hoped for - hordes of families bringing the shores of the lake to life, and reminding us all why we love living here.
It was also a reminder of the vision held by its original planners, according to the Centenary's creative director Robyn Archer.
"Thousands and thousands of people have turned up to make this the lively place I think the Griffins always imagined," she said on Monday from Regatta Point, as the crowds ambled below.
"It really is working brilliantly - if you tried to do everything [on offer] you'd be running around until 11 o'clock."
The festive atmosphere had the added effect of dampening the sting of the recent spate of Canberra bashing that had played out in the national - and international - media this week.
Chief Minister Katy Gallagher pointed out that 100 years might be comparatively young for a city, but it was a good age for Canberra to show it was comfortable in its own skin.
"I have to say in the last week given that everyone has been talking about Canberra, whether it's good or bad, it shows that the view of our city is changing," she said.
In fact, all reference to Canberra's popularity or otherwise seemed irrelevant, with so much civic pride, goodwill and downright love in the air.
"It's time to just get over it," she said. ''We know who we are, we know our city has a soul."
She might as well have just answered the question by pointing to the crowds of happy people wandering around the lake, picnicking and joining in the word games. "Build it and they will come - that's Robyn's line and I just stole it!" she said.
Words, in fact, were the theme of the day, and played out in all sorts of ways, from helium filled letters swaying on the lawns to roving singers warbling along the lake.
Down on Regatta Point, one of the most popular attractions was a pop-up white wall that, by 1pm, was rapidly filling with words, left there by hundreds of hands drawn irresistibly to the lure of blank spaces.
Canberra may be home to a transient population, but partygoers on Monday were keen to leave their mark in the city, writing their names and hometowns on the wall labelled "Where's your mob from?".
And for every Barcelona, Strasbourg, Bali or Melbourne, there was a Pearce, Waramanga or just plain, proud, Canberra, often enclosed in a heart.
Nick Grubb, of Casey, hesitated as he wrote his name, beside the word ''Tasmania.''
"That's where I'm from, but this is home now," he said.
ANU students Henry Lee, Sylvia Lau and Jason Hau, all from China, were excited to be part of this place they are temporarily calling home.
"I really love it here - I love the culture and the lifestyle, very quiet compared to China," Mr Lee said.
By 3pm, the wall was almost covered in words, with kids standing on shoulders to reach up to the scarce spaces at the top.
As the afternoon gave way to evening the family focus shifted to entertainment and at Commonwealth Place, half a kilometre of front-row lakeside real estate was home to the Bubbly Bar, the hottest ticket of the day, where over 1400 people enjoyed tapas and a glass or two of a special centenary bubbly in pre-sold short or long stay stints. Premium ticket holders were guaranteed the front-row seat for the fireworks, but others put in long hours for their prime position.
As the sun set on the birthday city, picnickers settled in for the evening of entertainment, remaining kids cracked glow sticks and danced on the grass, and the sound of the champagne corks popping punctuated the relaxed buzz.
While most were camped out for lakeside views, thousands gathered at the stage in front of Old Parliament House to witness the world premiere of Andrew Schultz's Canberra Symphony. The performance was simulcast around lake-side venues, and culminated in fireworks.
And for lovers of classic indie rock, the return of Canberra bands The Church, The Falling Joys and the Gladflys was truly a blast from the past.
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