Australian of the Year Walk

Photo courtesy of Darren Stones, Darren Stones Visual Communications

The National Anthem features in a permanent celebration of past Award recipients on the south shore of Lake Burley Griffin in Canberra. The Australian of the Year Walk opened in 2006: it features five parallel metal strips set flush with the ground and a series of bollards topped with metal plaques to honour each year’s winners. The musically literate will discern that each bollard represents a note on a musical stave, and that the tune of ‘Advance Australia Fair’ is written along the shore of the lake. Many of the bollards are blank, awaiting the addition of plaques honouring future Award recipients. The Australian of the Year Walk is symptomatic of major change in the politics of national identity. When the new national anthem was mooted in the 1970s the Victorian Australia Day Council opposed it strongly. The Fraser Government attempted to negotiate the transition to a new anthem, but the Prime Minister told delegates at an Australia Day Forum in 1981, ‘we cannot expect new symbols of our national awareness to take grip overnight.' The Australian of the Year walk in Canberra is clear evidence that attitudes to the anthem have changed considerably in thirty years.