In February 2005, I participated in A Month of Letters during which people attempt to write at least one letter (or postcard) during each and every day of the month. Unfortunately, I wasn’t fully prepared and gave up rather quickly; I think I lasted all of two weeks. I did, however, receive a few cards and letters as a result including this lovely multiple-view postcard from Rosie in Canberra — the capital city of Australia.
Canberra is located at the northern end of the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), 170 miles (280 kilometers) south-west of Sydney, and 410 miles (660 km) north-east of Melbourne. A resident of Canberra is known as a “Canberran”. The site of Canberra was selected for the location of the nation’s capital in 1908 as a compromise between rivals Sydney and Melbourne, Australia’s two largest cities. It is unusual among Australian cities, being an entirely planned city outside of any state, similar to Washington, D.C., in the United States, or Brasília in Brazil. Following an international contest for the city’s design, a blueprint by the Chicago architects Walter Burley Griffin and Marion Mahony Griffin was selected and construction commenced in 1913. The Griffins’ plan featured geometric motifs such as circles, hexagons and triangles, and was centerd on axes aligned with significant topographical landmarks in the Australian Capital Territory.
The city’s design was influenced by the garden city movement and incorporates significant areas of natural vegetation that have earned Canberra the title of the “bush capital”. The growth and development of Canberra were hindered by the World Wars and the Great Depression, which exacerbated a series of planning disputes and the ineffectiveness of a procession of bodies that were created in turn to oversee the development of the city. The national capital emerged as a thriving city after World War II, as Prime Minister Sir Robert Menzies championed its development and the National Capital Development Commission was formed with executive powers. Although the Australian Capital Territory is now self-governing, the Commonwealth Government retains some influence through the National Capital Authority.
The card itself features a map of Australia in the the center, surrounded by some of the country’s natural attractions, plus the Sydney Opera House. At the top left are the famous Twin Falls in Kakadu National Park, a huge protected area in the Northern Territory which covers an area of 7,646 square miles (19,804 km²). In the top center is Uluru, also known as Ayers Rock, a large sandstone rock formation in the southern part of the Northern Territory in central Australia. Uluru is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. At the top right is a view of Hinchinbrook Island which is separated from the northern coast of Queensland by the narrow Hinchinbrook Channel. Hinchinbrook Island is the largest island on the Great Barrier Reef and wholly protected within the Hinchinbrook Island National Park, except for a small and abandoned resort.
The Sydney Opera House is a multi-venue performing arts center in Sydney and is one of the twentieth century’s most famous and distinctive buildings. Designed by Danish architect Jørn Utzon, the building was formally opened on 20 October 1973 after a gestation beginning with Utzon’s 1957 selection as winner of an international design competition. The government of New South Wales, led by the premier, Joseph Cahill, authorized work to begin in 1958 with Utzon directing construction. The government’s decision to build Utzon’s design is often overshadowed by circumstances that followed, including cost and scheduling overruns as well as the architect’s ultimate resignation. The building and its surrounds occupy the whole of Bennelong Point in Sydney Harbour, close by the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
Pictured in the lower right corner of the postcard is The Twelve Apostles, a collection of limestone stacks off the shore of the Port Campbell National Park in the state of Victoria. Currently there are eight apostles left, the ninth one of the stacks collapsed dramatically in July 2005. The name remains significant and spectacular especially in the Australian tourism industry. In the bottom center is the secluded Wineglass Bay, voted by several travel authorities as one of the world’s ten best beaches. It is found in Freycinet National Park on the east coast of Tasmania.
At lower left is a scene from The Flinders Ranges, the largest mountain range in South Australia. Its most characteristic landmark is Wilpena Pound, a large, sickle-shaped, natural amphitheatre that covers 31 square miles (80 km²), and contains the range’s highest peak, St Mary Peak. The northern ranges are protected by the Arkaroola Protection Area and the Vulkathunha-Gammon Ranges National Park. The southern ranges are notable for the Pichi Richi scenic railway and Mount Remarkable National Park. The Pinnacles — at left center — are limestone formations within Nambung National Park, near the town of Cervantes, Western Australia.