Commonwealth Park

Commonwealth Park
Stage 88

Commonwealth Park is in Canberra, Australia, on the north side of Lake Burley Griffin. The annual spring Floriade festival is held in the park. The gardens were designed by the eminent British landscape designer, Dame Sylvia Crowe in 1964 at the time the Lake was filled.

The park has an area of 34.25 hectares.

The park has many small ponds and water features, walking trails, bike paths, sculptures and is popular with tourists and Canberrans. Located at the park is the outdoor Stage 88, which often holds concerts. The park includes Regatta Point and has a view of the National Gallery, High Court, and National Library on the other side of the lake. Kings Park is located adjacent to Commonwealth Park, along the lake to the east.

History of the location

In 1874, Ebenezer Booth built himself a house on the glebe of St John the Baptist Church, within the present boundaries of the park, to the east of what is now Nerang Pool. Murray's store, considered the area's first retail store, operated from the house. It burnt down in 1923. A number of stunted pines and English elms remain on the spot.

In his original plan for the city, Walter Burley Griffin, included a recreation area to the north of the man-made lake. His final plan of 1918 included an "aquarium pond", now Nerang Pool. Modifications from Griffin's plan of 1911 came about following his actual visit to the site and in order to reduce the amount of earthworks needed. The recreation area in the earlier plan was more formal and included many public buildings.

Works of Art in the Park

Title Artist Date of installation Description
Play sculpture David Tolley 1970
Buried sculpture Bert Flugelman 1975 Six polished aluminium tetrahedrons, similar to his work in the National Gallery of Australia but buried permanently in March 1975 in a trench for reasons not explained by the artist.
Two figures Dame Barbara Hepworth 1976
Underpass mural Sue Birch-Marston 1977
Amphitheatre mural Ann Morris 1977 Replaced in 1982 and 1987
Kangaroos Jan Brown 1981
Dance of the Secateurs Bruce Radke 1988
Untitled Alan Gauir 1991 A metal flock of birds which was one of the prize winning entries in the 1991 Floriade Sculpture competition.
Walter Burley Griffin Terrazzo David Humphries 2000 The Walter Burley Griffin Terrazzo is set in the pavement outside the entrance of the National Capital Exhibition and is a mosaic of Walter Burley Griffin's 1912 prize-winning design, set out as a page torn from a book.

Memorials in the Park

Memorial name Date of official opening or presentation Description
The Canadian flagpole 20 November 1957. The flagpole was a gift to Australia from the Canadian Government and the Canadian timber industry. It is a single spar of Douglas Fir, 39 metres tall with three metres in the ground

and 36 metres freestanding. When logged from a forest in British Columbia, it weighed 7.1 tonnes. The Canadian Flag is raised each year on Canada Day, 1 July.

Captain Cook Memorial Water Jet and Globe 25 April 1970 The water jet and terrestrial globe were constructed to commemorate the bicentenary of Captain James Cook’s landing on the east coast of Australia in 1770. Queen Elizabeth II opened the Memorial.

The Captain Cook Memorial Globe is an open-cage globe formed by the meridians of longitude and parallels of latitude, with land depicted in beaten bas-relief copper. Traced on the globe are the routes of Cook’s three voyages of exploration, with explanations of his ports of call inscribed on the surrounding handrail.

The jet can operate at a height of 147 metres.

The Memorial Globe and Jet were both designed by the architectural firm Bunning and Madden, which also designed the National Library and Parkes Place, located across the lake.

Memorial to pioneer women 2 September 1972 A large seat with views across the lake close to the site of the demolished bakery and store. It was designed by Margaret Hendry, a National Capital Development Commission (NCDC) landscape architect, in response to approaches in 1971 to the NCDC by the National Council of Women. The memorial was unveiled by Lady Hasluck, wife of the then Governor-General.


Gray, John (1996). A Park for a Nation: The story of Commonwealth Park in Australia's National Capital. Royal Australian Institute of Parks and Recreation (ACT Region). ISBN 0-908464-59-2. 

External links

Coordinates: 35°17′18″S 149°8′3″E / 35.28833°S 149.13417°E / -35.28833; 149.13417

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