The Argus (Melbourne), Friday, 29 May 1925.
DAMAGE AT CANBERRA
River 36ft. Above Summer Level
SYDNEY, Thursday.- A report issued today by the Water Conservation and Irrigation Commission states that the flood has been extraordinary. The Burrinjuck dam storage had reduced the level of the river considerably below what it would have been under natural conditions, but in spite of this fact the level at Gundagai this morning was 36ft. above the summer level. The highest level reached was at 10 o’clock last night, when the water was passing over the main wall of the dam.
The body of Mr Henry Leach, a painter working at Canberra, who was drowned yesterday, was found today, 100 yards from the spot where he fell into the river. The main Commonwealth avenue bridge over the Molonglo River at Canberra has had its approaches washed away, and the railway bridge has been almost destroyed. The bridge over the Duntroon Creek, leading to the Military College, has been destroyed, and the approaches have been washed away from the bridge over the Molonglo between Queanbeyan and Duntroon.
Communication with Canberra is suspended, and all traffic has been held up. At Canberra all work has ceased, and many new wooden cottages which were being built at the rear of the power house are under water. The main sewer has been filled with silt, and arrangements have been made to open the outlet to clean it out. Between 40 and 50 families have been washed out at Queanbeyan, and in many other houses the water reached the ceiling. When the approaches to the Commonwealth avenue bridge were washed away, a new outlet was made for the flood waters, which began to fall rapidly. This afternoon the flood level had fallen 12ft.
The Canberra Times, Friday, 27 December 1946.
CANBERRA IS MY BEAT (by “Uriarra”)
Long ago, maybe 20 years, Canberra was a diamond in the rough. Her population was small, but her citizens had a much more lively time than the staid, polite inhabitants of the National Capital to-day.
Gone are the dice games of the old White City camp, gone is the two-up ring beneath the blue gums where the Canadian Legation now stands. Memories only remain of the days when the butcher or the baker was the housewife’s “news bureau” of what was doing in “town”. Town, of course, was Queanbeyan, a bustling community that missed the bus when Canberra first began sprouting wings.
Today, Canberra, with its population of 15,000 , and an opportunity to be the greatest tourist resort in the Pacific, looks like missing the bus herself. The war gave Canberra a lift. Whether the people at home knew it or not, Canberra was quoted overseas almost daily – the focal point of Australia, equal in standing with London or Washington, Moscow or Lisbon. But the war is long since over and Canberra to the people who live here is rapidly settling down to the importance of a country town, somewhere to be mentioned in the same breath as Booligal or the oft-quoted Piper’s Flat.
The people of Canberra may be divided into three sections. The old-timers who look back proudly on the past and the modern city they have helped to build; the johnny-come-latelys who know all the answers and never cease to bemoan their fate of having to live here and finally the dreamers who never glance back, but envisage the Canberra of to-morrow.
Canberra has withstood the abuse of critics
All through the mist and haze of the 20 long drawn out winters since King George VI officially opened Parliament House, Canberra has withstood the abuse of the critics, perhaps smiled nonchalantly at the praise of overseas visitors, but all the time the young city has been building a personality of her own.
Progress is wanted for Canberra. Not the progress of the “roaring twenties,” one leap, one bound and then a standstill for ten years, not the progress that means the pomp and splendour of ceremonial occasions, but progress of every sense of the word and steady progress at that.
Inquiries extending over weeks reveal that the average citizen wants his city brightened. He wants night clubs, good hotels, tourist camps, aquatic facilities, a swimming pool for the northern suburbs, improved sporting facilities, a modern transport system, attractive shops and more shops, restaurants and a steady stream of tourist bringing money and gaiety to form the life-blood of the fairyland National Capital.
Advisory Councils & others
All these suggestions have cropped up for years and always the answers are the same. There is always something to stop progress. First was the depression, then the war and now the shortage of this or that.
In the next 20 years, probably the same answers will be given. The Advisory Council will still be hamming away at the same subjects month after month and getting the same non-committal answers: (a) there are not funds: (b) this is earmarked for something else. The Council of Progress and Welfare Associations will possibly obtain a few minor concessions and the Trades and Labour Council after occupying its new National Hall of Labour will possibly be content to take things easy.
It is not the dim and distant future that ordinary John Citizen is concerned about. It is the immediate future and wishing will not get him the things he requires. Canberra can have all that is wanted if somebody will take the trouble to direct operations.
The National Capital with its large percentage of public servants presents a problem which probably could not be equalled anywhere in the world. None dares to speak out of turn for fear of prejudicing his chances of promotion, but nine out of ten will tell any sympathetic listener in an “off the record” talk of what should be done about Canberra and how the powers that be are crippling the growth of the community.
The Chamber of Commerce & the Canberra Tourist Bureau
To-day in Canberra there is only one body that can hoist the city from the rut into which it is sinking, and that organisation is the Chamber of Commerce. Publicly it has never shown its real strength, but then it has never been really tested. Little is ever heard of its activities, but it can step in where others have failed. It is not run for money, but the money it could bring to Canberra would put a new driving force in the city. Its members are not hand-tied by public service regulations and if overseas examples are any indication, a tourist trade could be drawn to the capital like flies to a jar of honey.
The Canberra Tourist Bureau from a very modest beginning has grown to something of importance in the space of a few short years. That it has done so is due entirely to the astute salesmanship of its director. The bureau through its courtesy and publicity is packing the tourists into Canberra, but as yet it is only operating on a small scale and publicity is being soft-pedalled because thousands of tourists could not be catered for if a nation-wide offensive were fully geared.
The Chamber of Commerce backing to the limit the Tourist Bureau and ensuring that attractive facilities were offered visitors could and would make Canberra something of which to be proud. As the publicity-minded Americans realised long ago, tourists mean money for shops, restaurants, garages, newspapers, meat pie vendors and everyone in general, and satisfied tourists mean more tourists and more employment for the younger generation, which outside of the public service has little scope in which to apply its talents.
Canberra is an ideal setting as a mecca for tourists. Above all it is the National Capital and what proud Australian gently led by good sales talk would not want to spend a holiday here. The city’s beauty is known far and wide. It is easily accessible by good highways, is rapidly becoming a key centre in the vast airways system and has fine buildings and places of interest that have attracted millions to much lesser places on the map of the world.
The same old rut!
Initiative and enterprise will reap rewards and when the building programme is completed – but there it has cropped up again, the No. 1 stopper to any plans for the future – Canberra may get somewhere. Always, however, there is that “when” and until it is eliminated your Canberra and mine will stay in the same old rut.
[It took Canberra a while to ‘get off the ground’ – but it did eventually, after another 20 years! And all the above was written before the Molonglo River was dammed at Scrivener Dam, to form the beautiful Lake Burley Griffin. Shops are now too numerous, as is office space, and the Public Service continues to dominate the city. Public buildings, hotels, art exhibitions, and activities abound – but Canberra is still a tourist’s best-kept secret, sometimes off the beaten track, but well worth the visit – not to mention, less traffic than the most popular cities of Australia…TF]