Canberra Urbanity

Anzac Parade: A mixed tale of Trees and Lights

Trees are important in our urban environments. They are part of our urban green infrastructure and perform important roles assisting in health and well-being as well as climate change adaptation.

And they are just beautiful.  I like trees.

Anzac-trees01Anzac Parade in Canberra is an avenue of war monuments that are flanked by rows of mighty sentinels. Either side of the avenue is dominated by these fantastic rows of gums trees – Eucalyptus bicostata.

It is a great experience to wander inside these rows of gums and to take in their natural beauty. Unfortunately the National Capital Authority would rather we walk out in the sun along their roadside concrete paths. I recommend going bush and roaming inside the rows of gum trees.


There’s heaps of tree litter that adds to the character and enhances the local biodiversity.



The view along the ground is wonderful as is the constant changing scenery above.


Some areas are not so cared for. Shame. It is obvious that the National Capitol Authority just does not appreciate all of this natural asset.


But as much as this parade has these wonderful experiences to be had, it has also been set upon by well-meaning designers who have diminished the power of these wonderful gum trees as beautiful and powerful sentinels.

Yes there amongst the view something lurks.. and soul-destroying they are


They appear over the memorials …



Yes I am referring to the installation of those not so appropriate flyer saucers. Those lights.



What were they thinking?

More on this terrible installation here. The National Capital Authority boasts how wonderful the lights are. I hope they believed their own spin. They were an unwarranted intrusion when they were installed and they remain so to this day. No matter how good their spin, these lights are terrible.

Have to repeat myself here. Just what were they thinking. It is obvious that they are so inappropriate in the way they diminish the majesty of the two fantastic walls of gum trees.

These light could be a wonderful set of lights – somewhere else – anywhere where such flying saucers were required. And why so many!

Anzac Parade is a solemn place and therefore it should have required a subtle and sophisticated design solution to provide the right sort of lighting up this avenue.  Did we really need all these poles? Was there no another way whereby the lights could have been less obtrusive such as maybe ground lights along the flower beds. Anything would have been better. Anything that was responsive to this special place would have not been that hard.

Here’s a view from the War Memorial and for more information on Anzac Parade click on this image.

The image demonstrates the problem. Those damn things hang out there like a string of decorations blocking the line of wonderful trees.

This is a shameful case of an architectural solution delivered by a committee who should have known better and have been more attuned to the local environment. Where was their sense of place? Sanity was most likely sitting outside in the corridor waiting to be allowed in on the decision I suspect.

One wonders whether this was the infamous Club of Sydney, and its local hangers-on, at it again. Forget the power and beauty of the landscape, let’s just have fun making yet another architectural statement.

I suspect the members of the Club of Sydney were very happy. Awards probably. Grumph!!

I still enjoy the trees. And I recommend the walk amongst the trees as a wonderful afternoon’s experience.

Is it possible that one day soon the National Capital Authority could design a gravel path amongst the trees so that visitors could enjoy this alternate view of Anzac Parade away from the space ships and in the shade?

One could also dream that landscape thinking may one day return to dominate this authority and then we may even talk about the vegetation on the rest of the Parliamentary Triangle and how it could be transformed to assist with climate change adaptation.

I like trees and I wish authorities and their consultants would do likewise. For example see my blog on the Kings Highway trees at Braidwood. More limited intelligence from the Club of Sydney I suspect. But more on that later.

For now – enjoy the Anzac Parade gums as much as you can.

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