History buffs have a chance to retrace the footsteps of the man who was instrumental in shaping the development of Canberra and Australia.
Ben Chifley, Australia's 16th Prime Minister (1945-1949), is the man credited with giving Australia the Snowy Mountain Hydro Electric Scheme; establishing QANTAS, the Australian National University, and the CSIRO, and assisting General Motors Holden to build Australia's first Holden car.
Chifley's government was instrumental in establishing the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) at the start of the Cold War, and gave Australia a domestic airline, Trans Australian Airline (TAA).
While in parliament, Chifley stayed at the Hotel Kurrajong in Canberra. He had a room at the hotel for 11 years as he refused to let taxpayers meet the expense of him occupying The Lodge.
The hotel and others have launched Chifley's Walk. The 45-minute tour, exclusively for hotel guests, runs daily at 10am at a cost of $20. It starts with a self-guided stroll to Old Parliament House, the seat of the Parliament of Australia from 1927 to 1988, following the same route Chifley took every morning via what is today via the National Circle, Walpole Crescent, and King George Terrace.
Today, Old Parliament House is the home of the Museum of Australian Democracy (MoAD) and once there, guests will embark on an exclusive guided tour, highlighting personal stories during Chifley's time in office and the spaces where his leadership shaped the development of Canberra and Australia.
MoAD's Andrea Garcia says Chifley's Walk will allow visitors to deepen their understanding of Old Parliament House by exploring the places where important decisions of the day were made - King's Hall, the House of Representatives and the Prime Minister's Office - as well as key events that took place in the context of the 16th Prime Minister of Australia.
"The synergy between Hotel Kurrajong and Old Parliament House helped inspire the walk," she said.
"Hotel Kurrajong first opened in 1926 and Old Parliament House in 1927 - both were designed by John Smith Murdoch providing a residence and a working place to Members of Parliament in the nation's capital."
The 750-metre stroll from the Hotel Kurrajong to the then Parliament House was one Chifley, who was then Treasurer, and his PM, John Curtin, did many times together. Their habit was captured by photographer Don Stephens in 1945 and immortalised in bronze by sculptor Peter Corlett in 2011.
When Curtin died and Chifley became PM, he continued the tradition of walking to "work".
At the 2011 unveiling of Peter Corlett's statue, former Prime Minister Julia Gillard said: "It's impossible not to reflect on what were they saying to each other as they walked to work that day. ... Because they were true leaders, I can't help but believe they would have been talking about the future. And in turn, that means, they would have been talking about us."
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