Rarely seen treasures such as the golden trowels used to lay Canberra’s foundation stones in the 1913 naming ceremony for the capital have been unveiled in a new exhibition at the Australian parliament as part of the Centenary of Canberra celebrations.
The But Once in a History exhibition will be in the Presiding Officers Exhibition Area in Parliament House Canberra from 14 January to 3 April 2013.
Canberra historian Dr David Headon also acquired other items on loan from the family of Lord Thomas Denman, the Australian Governor-General at the time, including the cocked hat with plumes he wore that day and a gold ‘casket’ presented by Home Affairs Minister King O’Malley to Lady Denman, which she opened containing the name for the new capital ‘Canberra’.
“These items have never been exhibited anywhere before, either in England or Australia, and each precious piece gives us a fresh and very human sense of the people who took part in the formalities on that historic day,” Dr Headon said.
At the exhibition launch, Dr Headon quoted from King O’Malley “Such an opportunity as this, the Commonwealth selecting a site for its national city in almost virgin country, comes to few nations, and comes but once in history.”
The exhibition is presented with support from the ACT Government, the Commonwealth Government, the Presiding Officers of the House of Representatives and the Senate, the Department of Parliamentary Services and the National Archives of Australia.