Historic homecoming for Griffin drawing

Media release: Monday, 23 May 2011

For the first time in a century one of the drawings that won Walter Burley Griffin the Federal Capital Design Competition is being reunited with the other competition drawings.

The drawing, the annotated legend to the 'View from summit of Mount Ainslie', was used in the judging announced by then Minister for Home Affairs, King O'Malley on 23 May 1912.

Minister for Privacy and Freedom of Information, the Hon Brendan O'Connor was delighted to be on hand when the drawing was returned.

"Canberra is unique among our capital cities because it is the result of a design competition.

"Reuniting this missing drawing with the other 15 competition drawings, and keeping it safely in the National Archives, means we now have a full record of Griffin's vision for the federal capital," said Minister O'Connor.

'View from summit of Mount Ainslie', the most famous of Walter Burley and Marion Mahoney Griffin's watercolours, was finished too late to be sent to Australia for judging. The rediscovered legend was sent instead. Once the final watercolour arrived, the annotated legend was removed and many people considered it lost. Canberra historian David Headon rediscovered the document at the Planning Institute of Australia.

Dr Stephen Ellis, Acting Director-General of the National Archives said the Griffins' drawings of the city of Canberra are among the most significant items held by the Archives.

"The Griffin's work was officially recognised in 2003 when they were listed on the UNESCO Australian Memory of the World Register.

"We are delighted that this drawing has been rediscovered well in time for Canberra's centenary celebrations in 2013. We are also most grateful to Dr Headon for recognising its significant connection to the Commonwealth," said Dr Ellis.

For pictures of the launch and the annotated legend, see the National Archives of Australia's photostream on Flickr.

Copyright National Archives of Australia 2019