Lake Burley Griffin OCE-02

Riparian Nation(s) Australia
Surface Area 7 km2 Mean Depth 4.7 m Volume 0.03 km3
Shoreline 35.4 km Catchment Area 1865 km2 Residence Time 0.2 yr
Frozen Period Mixing Type Morphogenesis/Dam
Related Info/Site


A small artificial lake in the central part of Canberra, the capital of Australia. The original lake emerged as part of the 1909 proposals for the site for the National Capital. In 1911, the competition for the design of the National Capital was carried out and Waiter Burley Griffin, a city-planner from Chicago, won the prize in 1912. The lake name was dedicated to him. The plan of lay-out of the city was gazetted in 1925 including Griffin's lake.

A water feature, with three formal water basin, flanked on either side by an informal lake, was key element in Griffin's plan. National Capital Development Commission proceeded to the design and development of the lake on a two stage basis. The first stage which involved the construction of a dam, lake floor, two bridges, wharves, foreshore edges and basic landscape treatment and public facilities provision to over 843 ha of lake foreshores was officially commemorated by the Prime Minister of Australia on 17 October 1964. The second stage which is still in progress has involved detailed landscape development of the foreshores.

During both stages, an understanding of the hydraulics, water quality, ecology, biology and landscape of the lake has emerged. This understanding has had an important influence on landscape design.

The lake divides the city of Canberra into two parts, the northern section around Capital Hill for national government offices and the Diet Building, and the southern section around City Hill for down town with City Hall and shopping centres.

The commission won the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects inaugural "Award in Landscape Excellence" for its project "Lake Burley Griffin and Adjacent Parkland" in 1986. Further development of the lake foreshore is continuing in respirations of the Australian people for their National Capital (1).

Photo of Lake Burley Griffin
Photo: A. Kurata