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Michael Spens

Capital of Australia. Founded as a result of the federation of the Australian colonies (1901), the city (population c. 270,000) is noted for its urban plan, a remarkable combination of garden city and Beaux-Arts ideals. The inland site for Canberra was established in the Australian Capital Territory c. 250 km south-west of Sydney and c. 480 km north-east of Melbourne. An international competition for the design of the urban plan was won in 1912 by the American architect Walter Burley Griffin. His scheme (for illustration see Griffin family) combines formality, befitting the ceremony of state, and informality, reflecting the democratic structure of Australian society. The plan is closely related to the undulating topography of the site, with prominent hills employed as radial hubs for a system of formal axes that are in turn aligned to distant topographical features. The focus of the entire plan is Capital Hill, site of the parliament, which forms the apex of the Parliamentary (or Federal) Triangle where the principal government buildings are located. A central, tree-lined land axis links Capital Hill with Mt Ainslie to the north (site of the Australian War Memorial, ...