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Unit 4 - On Behalf of the Nation

Lesson plan
Activity - Discover your National Capital


Canberra's modern history is very short. The National Capital has evolved over an eighty year period - in effect, one person's lifetime. We are a young nation whose people are rich in diversity and cultural identities, which together create a unique and distinct society.

Canberra, as the National Capital, is the symbolic home of all Australians. It reflects the attitudes, status and symbolism of Australian society, Australian culture and Australian diversity. A capital city is not just about the buildings or physical aspects. It is also about what it means in the hearts and minds of all Australians. Canberra is our National Capital, a place reflective of national attitudes and an identity of which we should all be proud.


Students list words and symbols that they feel describe Canberra as their National Capital.


  • understand the symbolic and administrative roles of the National Capital
  • understand the positive role Canberra plays as Australia's National Capital
  • select descriptive words and justify their use
  • engage in group discussion


Exhibit title - What is a National Capital?
Location - Creation of a Nation, section 4

Exhibit title - Walter Burley Griffin's Winning Plan
Location - The Ideal City, section 5

Exhibit title - The Parliament of Australia
Location - On Behalf of the Nation, section 8

This activity relates to a number of exhibits within the National Capital Exhibition which reinforce the positive role Canberra portrays as the National Capital.


  • student activity sheet


  1. Introduce the topic by setting the scene with the class.
  2. Hand out the activity sheet.
  3. Ask the students to describe in words their feelings and perceptions of Canberra and then provide a written explanation on their choice of words.
  4. There is no right or wrong answer to this activity and some students may record negative perceptions of Canberra
  5. On conclusion of the activity, time should be allowed for class discussion.
    • Note: This activity can be completed as one of the first activities in this education kit and then repeated at the very end to achieve a comparison of the students' perceptions of Canberra and it role as the National Capital.