Unit Themes

This resource has been divided into five themed units. Each unit provides an historic and geographic progression relating to the development and perceptions of Australia’s national capital.

Unit 1 Federation and the Formation of the National Capital

Federation and the Formation of the National Capital sets the scene for the progress towards nationhood. It highlights some of the key figures involved in the establishment of the Commonwealth in 1901 and looks at how a site for the national capital was chosen. It is an obvious turning point in the history of the nation and its capital city, and offers students the necessary background knowledge to investigate further and understand subsequent units.

Unit 2 Walter Burley Griffin and the Competition for the Capital

The newly created Commonwealth Government pursued a vision to create a city that would be the finest capital in the world. In 1912 American architect Walter Burley Griffin won an international competition to design Australia’s national capital. Griffin’s plans were superbly rendered by architect Marion Mahony Griffin, his wife and business partner. This unit looks at the Griffins and the ideals that influenced the direction of their competition-winning design.

Unit 3 The Griffin Legacy

The Griffins envisioned Canberra as a city in the landscape, where the concept of City Beautiful and Garden City were skilfully intertwined within an Australian bush setting. The Griffin Legacy unit helps students to discover the process behind the planning and building of Australia’s capital city and provides comparisons between Griffin’s original design and the present-day landscape of Canberra.

Unit 4 Your National Capital

The national capital is a place where Australia’s elected federal representatives meet to make decisions that affect our lives, our nation and our future. But it is much more than just a meeting place for politicians and the site of important public buildings. Many Australians feel it should reflect the nation’s ideals and aspirations, and our national psyche. This unit highlights the formal and symbolic roles of Australia’s national capital and compares Canberra with other national capitals around the world.

Unit 5 The Central National Area

The Central National Area of Canberra contains symbols and structures of the nation’s culture, history and aspirations. In this area the federal, ceremonial and civic roles of the national capital rub shoulders. This unit discusses the role of national buildings and commemorative works located in the central national area. It encourages reflection on the future role of these important sites for all Australians and potential sites in the future.