WHO would imagine three men with Hunter Valley links having such a strong influence creating the nation's capital of Canberra?
The obvious candidate is the renowned architect Walter Burley Griffin while the other two were early significant surveyors. The most prominent of these was Charles Scrivener, after whom a prominent Canberra dam is named, while the other later became a high-profile Newcastle surveyor called AP Pulver, better known as Astley Pulver, or as simply 'Mr Pulver'. Among Pulver's achievements was helping design Canberra for five years before he was made redundant in the 1930s Great Depression.
Let's learn first about Walter Burley Griffin, the former Chicago architect who created the overall plan for today's Canberra. Or did he? WB Griffin certainly did draw up, and win, the bold, geometric design for Australia's capital city over a field of 137 entries from all over the world.
Griffin first came to Australia in May, 1913, and after lengthy consultations was appointed the federal director of design and construction with the right to spend 50 per cent of his time on private practice. He left to settle his US affairs and returned later with his talented wife Marion Mahony Griffin. who had worked with legendary architect Frank Lloyd Wright.
Marion and hubby Walter were a superb creative partnership. Both had expertise in town planning, but her name was not included in their prize-winning entry as it was felt that doing so ''would dilute the chance of success''.
According to the National Capital Authority, although the Griffins' design had won the competition, it did not win over the departmental board responsible for its actual physical creation. The responsible minister, the flamboyant King O'Malley, accepted the jury's design but this didn't mean its implementation.
Within three weeks of the competition results being announced, the board began planning "something cheaper and more practical''. Helping lead the project from Griffin's vision to reality - converting an unpromising sheep paddock into a future national capital - was government chief surveyor, the taciturn but very capable Charles Scrivener.
The project team "only superficially followed the Griffin design" and substantially implemented that of an Australian team instead. This composite plan was then endorsed by Parliament and approved by O'Malley on January 10, 1913.
Earlier, the Commonwealth government undertook a search into 700 names for its future capital. The suggestions included names like Wattleholm, Democratia, Kookemuroo, Shakespeare and New London. Myola and Federalia were name frontrunners, but finally the existing name of the limestone plains district (Canberra, or "meeting place") prevailed.
Building began and between 1913 and 1926, 2 million trees and shrubs were planted. The original Parliament House was opened in 1927 with many tree-lined avenues. Meanwhile, Walter Burley Griffin kept busy developing plans for other clients and areas, including in Leeton, Jervis Bay and Port Stephens.
His proposed Port Stephens City was around the area known today as North Arm Cove, on the northern shore of the waterway. Stroud Shire Council passed the plan in May, 1918. The huge subdivision proposal began that same year, but by 1919 it faltered and passed into the hands of investor Henry Ferdinand Halloran, who amended it. The dream ended in 1920 with the state government deciding Newcastle, not Port Stephens, should be developed as a port.
The hopes of a railway also being provided to the site to accelerate the scheme were dashed and so Griffin's land dream evaporated. Much of the plan now remains as lines on old maps.
And back at the ranch, in Canberra, trouble was brewing for architect Griffin's grand plan. A 1917 Royal Commission found that bureaucrats had undermined the architect. Griffin resigned from the Canberra design project in December, 1920, after discovering who was actually managing Canberra's construction. After fights over his supervisory role, the Commonwealth government officially removed Griffin as head honcho, severing his links with his grand idea.
For years after, Canberra was described as two villages separated by a floodplain as it took 50 years after the founding of the nation's capital for Lake Burley Griffin to form. The waters of the Molonglo River were finally controlled by the Scrivener Dam in 1963. As there was no monument to the creator of Canberra, prime minister Robert Menzies insisted on the name Lake Burley Griffin. Others within his party though had wanted it called Lake Menzies instead.
The contour map of surveyor Charles Scrivener (1855-1923) had been chosen as the basis for the 1911 Canberra design competition. Long, lean, bearded and an avid bushman used to living in tents, he'd surveyed numerous rural sites on which to establish a future capital city.
Back in 1888, Scrivener had been appointed as surveyor in Maitland, NSW, and in 1891 had carried out a resurvey of the boundaries of the Gloucester Estate of the powerful AA Company. He also found time to undertake street alignment surveys in Raymond Terrace.
He's often described as the main author of the "departmental plan", a cheaper, more practical way to create modern Canberra than Griffin's design.
The Scrivener Dam on Lake Burley Griffin is named after him and he's credited with proposing the single, large lake that exists today, rather than three connected lakes. Scrivener was also reported to be frustrated with Griffin's frequent plan amendments.
The second Hunter surveyor helping create modern Canberra was Astley Paston Pulver (1899-1988). From 1925 until 1930 he was employed by the Federal Capital Authority, investigating major engineering projects. He then returned to private surveying practice in Newcastle with his famous father W.R. Pulver.
Astley Pulver then did much to establish the suburbs of Rankin Park, Belmont North and Woodberry. As well, he was the foundation chairman of the Hunter-Manning group of the Institution of Engineers and a foundation member of the Royal Australian Planning Institute. He also documented much of the ground-breaking work of his late father, Worters Readett Pulver.
The obituary of Worters Pulver (1866-1947) states that he surveyed and laid out a large part of the city of Newcastle, mostly while working as chief surveyor and engineer for the AA Company, converting old coal mining land into residential suburbs. Today the senior Mr Pulver is mostly remembered for the massive task of creating suburbs out of sand drifts at Hamilton South, Bar Beach, Cooks Hill and Merewether. Pulver Street, Hamilton, is named in his honour.