IT was, as MC and Canberra historian David Headon remarked, a perfect spring day for a unique celebration of the long term relationship between Queanbeyan and Canberra.
ACT Chief Minister Katy Gallagher was on hand to join Queanbeyan city Mayor Tim Overall in unveiling an armillary sphere sundial commissioned from artist Hendrik Forster by Queanbeyan Council, installed in a spectacular location on top of Dairy Farmers Hill at the National Arboretum on plinth made by Robert Matthews of Wee Jasper.
In front of a crowd that included former Gov Gen Sir William Deane and Lady Deane, centenary of Canberra creative director Robyn Archer and politicians from both sides of the border, Headon, backed by the Queanbeyan City Pipes and Drums, continued to praise the weather, which had also been brilliant on the day Lady Denman first pronounced the name of Canberra, and before that on the day that parliamentarians visited the Limestone Plains location in search of a site for the national capital. The name Canberra, he said, had been the “pick” of the locals so it was fitting to bring citizens from both cities together for, respectively, their hundredth and 175th birthdays.
Mayor Overall traced the origins of modern Canberra to the vision of Queanbeyan journalist John Gale, his diligence and eloquence ensured its present location.
He explained how the armillery sphere, the fourth by Forster, would teach us how to tell the time in a different way as we enjoy spectacular view of both cities.
A birthday gift from Queanbeyan to Canberra, he said, the presentation demonstrated that we are “one community though two jurisdictions.”
After finishing with a few rousing words by 19th-century politician Daniel Henry Deniehy, who had driven the first pole for the Queanbeyan Bridge in 1857, Cllr Overall handed over to Ms Gallagher.
She speculated on what might happen if another referendum were to be held like that of 1911, when the citizens of the Queen opted to remain separate from Canberra.
Those Queanbeyanites present suspected they’d do it all over again.