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FROM THE ARCHIVES (April 1902): Australia’s colonial leaders decide to move capital to ‘Canberra’ after all-night opium binge

Australia's colonial leaders after opium bingeA meeting of representatives from the former colonies of Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland ended in farce when the men conspired to move the new nation’s capital from its largest city, Melbourne, to a little-known rural location 175 miles south west of Sydney. It is believed the men were smoking large amounts of A-grade opium at the time.

Mr Charles Johnson, a representative from Queensland, said “It seemed like a pretty good idea at the time, hilarious actually. A capital city miles from anywhere, in the coldest part of the country, to be built entirely from scratch!” Although he added “I must admit that now, in the light of day, it seems unnecessarily difficult. In fact it’s quite preposterous”.

But any intentions to simply forget the idea was ever discussed were thwarted when the men realised they had signed the concept into law and put into motion proceedings to choose a designer for the new city. A further blow came when they realised they had specified that the design must make the new city as spread out and unaccommodating for human interaction as possible. “You’ve got to understand that this all seemed quite funny when we were off our tits,” Mr Johnson said.

Despite the outrage from many Australian citizens, Sir John Thornton from New South Wales was philosophical about the error. “In time, Australians will come to love Canberra. It will be a place where people come to live out of choice, not just because they have employment with the Government. Indeed, when people look back on this in eighty, ninety, one hundred years time, they will say that the whole idea made perfect sense”.

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This entry was posted on July 3, 2012 by in Politics and tagged , , , , , .

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