Fifteen Years

I’ve mentioned this disaster before, but today is the fifteenth anniversary of the freakish firestorm that tore through Canberra, Australia’s capital city. Unlike other bushfires, this one burnt into the city itself, claiming lives and destroying many hundreds of buildings.

Watch from 1:08 in to see what the suburban streets looked like that afternoon.

The images below (from Wikimedia Commons) are from before the sky turned blacker than night, and then bright red. All the photos are of places I was on that day. When everything went black, it started raining embers, and the flames started rolling down the mountains that surround us, things got really scary in this part of town. (What looks like lights in the first picture is all fire.)

People I know lost everything, but we got lucky and the firebombing helicopters were just over us and stopped it before it jumped the road to our side.

2003_Canberra_Firestorm-Woden 2003 Canberra Firestorm. 18th January 2003 Canberra_hills-18-01-2003

2003_Canberra_Firestorm-Woden Photo of Woden Town Centre during the height of the 2003 Canberra Firestorm. 18th January 2003

2003_Canberra_Firestorm- 2003 Canberra Firestorm. 18th January 2003 Canberra_hills-18-01-2003 2003CanberraBushfires.

R.I.P. Bryan Lawrence

Bryan Lawrence in Le Conservatoire. The Australian Ballet, 1965. Photo Ken Byron, Australian News and Information Bureau.

Bryan Lawrence, a soloist with Britain’s Royal Ballet before moving to Australia to become one of The Australian Ballet’s early principals, died over the weekend. He was in his eighty-first year.

Swan Lake Royal Ballet School performance 1960 with Shirley Grahame. — with Shirley Grahame Kershaw. Bryan Lawrence.

With Shirley Grahame.

After retiring, Lawrence and his ballerina wife Janet Karin moved to Canberra where they founded a highly successful ballet school. Their graduates went to on star with companies such as American Ballet Theatre, the Joffrey Ballet, and – of course – The Australian Ballet. Ross Stretton, the late director of both Australia’s national company and The Royal Ballet, also began his training there.

On this day: the Royal Military College, Duntroon.

On the 27th of June, 1911, the Royal Military College, Duntroon – located in what is now Canberra, Australia’s capital city – opened its doors.

The college is the training centre for officers in the Australian Army, and sits adjacent to the Australian Defence Force Academy, which trains members of the Army, Navy, and Air Force.

Royal Military College, Duntroon Canberra Australia. Opened 27th June, 1911.

On this day: a new Parliament House

Construction of New Parliament House, Canberra, 26 April 1988. Australia. Federal Government.

In this photograph dated the 26th of April, 1988, the massive flagpole is constructed on top of Australia’s new Parliament House in the capital city, Canberra.

The new building was constructed at the time of Australia’s bicentenary, replacing what would become known as Old Parliament House, the white building at the front of the picture.

New Parliament House was officially opened by Queen Elizabeth II on the 9th of May.

 Opening_parliament_house_1988Crowds attend the official opening of the new Parliament House Building in 1988. Canberra.

The official opening in 1988.

On this day: a natural disaster in Canberra

Raw news footage of the firestorm that hit Canberra, Australia’s capital city, on the 18th of January, 2003. The disaster claimed lives, burnt nearly 70% of the Australian Capital Territory, destroyed over 500 houses, and burnt internationally significant institutions such as the Mount Stromlo Observatory to the ground.

On this day: the Jolimont Centre siege

js-1On the 29th of November, 1993 a man by the name of Felipe Ruizdiaz went on a rampage in Canberra, Australia’s capital city. Ruizdiaz

On the 29th of November, 1993 a man by the name of Felipe Ruizdiaz went on a rampage in Canberra, Australia’s capital city. Ruizdiaz, 47, shot the manager at Dickson Swimming Pool before driving his ute, filled with gas canisters and petrol, to the Jolimont Centre in Canberra’s city centre.

Jolimont_Centre_siege_1993In what was believed to be a revenge attack on his estranged wife

In what was believed to be a revenge attack on his estranged wife, he drove into the entrance of the multi-storey building and began to throw petrol bombs before shooting at emergency service members who responded to the incident.

Ruizdiaz eventually shot and killed himself.

js-2On the 29th of November, 1993 a man by the name of Felipe Ruizdiaz went on a rampage in Canberra, Australia’s capital city. Ruizdiaz

A radio station located in the building continued to broadcast throughout the attack.

Celebration of a Capital City

Canberra Day takes place on or around the 12th of March every year, and in 2016 falls on the 14th. It is the holiday for Australia’s capital city.

The date is used because on the 12th of March, 1913 Lady Denman announced the name “Canberra” for a brand new city to serve as the nation’s capital.

Below, Lady Denman is photographed making the announcement.

800px-Naming_of_city_of_canberra_capital_hill_1913The ceremony for the naming of Canberra, 12 March 1913. Prime Minister Andrew Fisher centre. To his right is the Governor-General, Lord Denman, and to his left, Lady Denman.

Lady_Denman_1913-03-12_Canberra-nameLady Denman scans the slip of paper on which is written the name of Australia's capital, at a ceremony on 12 March 1913.

The Royal Canberra Show

The Royal Canberra Show takes place in Australia’s capital city every year. In 2016 it runs from the 26th to the 28th of February.

This is a picture from 1915. The predecessor to the present-day show was the Ginninderra Farmers’ Union Show. Here the  Ginninderra committee poses for a photograph.


Ginninderra Farmers' Union Show Committee, 1915. History of the Royal Canberra Show. Australia. Vintage

Floods in Australia

The 1971 Canberra Flood was at its worst on the 26th of January, when seven people aged between six and twenty were killed when their cars were carried away by floodwaters.

Floodwaters at Yamba Drive Melrose Drive Intersection - 1971 by Australian Capital Territory, Canberra.


However, Australia’s capital city remained underwater, as seen here in images taken at the beginning of February.

Canberra Flood 1971 Woden


In the background of the pictures is the Woden Town Centre (a commercial centre in the suburbs) under construction.