Enlighten Festival – Canberra

Last night, I braved the crowds to go and photograph some of the illuminated buildings in the Parliamentary Triangle in Canberra that form part of the Enlighten Festival.


We had an early dinner so that I could get to the area that I wanted to photograph at dusk on time for sunset. This wasn’t too easy. Firstly the traffic was extremely busy and I drove around for thirty minutues trying to find a parking spot. Eventually, I found one in a car park by the lake behind the Hyatt Hotel, a good 25 minutes walk away from the area in which I needed to be. Being late turned out not to be too much of a problem as the sunset at 7.30 pm wasn’t very bright, so some of the images that I thought that I could capture weren’t on offer anyway. It also turned out that the buildings weren’t illuminated until 8.00 pm, so I had to wait for a while anyway for anything interesting to happen.

One of the security guards told me that the first things to be lit up would be a couple of static hot air balloons. I wandered down to the grass area in front of the Old Parliament House (now the Museum of Democracy) but they were very slow in getting their stuff together, so in the end I walked across to the front of the Old Parliament House Building and captured a few nice images there. The illuminations were all very effectively designed to the shape of the buildings and looked spectacular.



By now, the balloons were up and I could see them across the dark lawn area where the Aboriginal Tent Embassy was located opposite the Old Parliament House. This cluster of tents has been there for many years now. It originated as a protest at the time of the first land disputes over Aboriginal Land Rights in Australia. To many people, it is an eyesore but I suspect that now that the building opposite has been repurposed to become the Museum of Democracy, this protest establishment has more legitimacy. I doubt that I would have had the tenacity to live in a tent for this number of decades to prove a political point!


From there, I walked along to the National Gallery where one of the side walls was lit up with images from the  Gallery’s current exhibition. The images were not as extensive as on the other buildings but they were probably the most complex.


As I was heading over to the National Portrait Gallery, I caught up with Steve, one of my Probus Club colleagues, so we spent the next hour photographing together. I was interested to see that we that we both found quite different perspectives of the buildings interesting and as a result, we will have quite different images. The HIgh Court building was not illuminated but it looked rather nice with just its normal lighting.


Near the National Portrait Gallery, there was a photo booth and as people had their photos taken, they were added to the projection on the wall of the gallery. I thought that this Octopus made quite a statement with the gallery behind it.


Our next stop was at the Questacon building . It is quite a modern cube shaped building and has more than 200 interactive exhibits relating to science and technology. It conducts many science programs that are devoted to inspiring the children of Australia to love science. Fittingly, the projected images on its walls were about space  and the moon. I was waiting for them to cycle though to some ‘Rubik’s Cube’ type of images of the periodic table because they really suited the building’s architecture. However, the projection failed for a short time and I didn’t want to wait around for too long as I was getting tired and still had a long walk back to my car.


Steve and I walked on to the National Library where my final images for the night were taken across a pond which gave me some nice reflections.



I said goodnight to Steve at the Library and headed back to our hotel. On the way, I drove past Parliament House and found that it was also illuminated but I’ll head back there on one of the other nights that we are here in Canberra. At least I now have some idea of where parking might be available.


Bruce is a keen traveller and photographer. This web site describes his travel and family interests

One thought on “Enlighten Festival – Canberra”

  1. Spectacular sights photographed so well . A lovely way to spend a long weekend .

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