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New Griffin Centre opens – with pictures!

By Kerces 23 October 2005 14

After five years of planning – appearing to involve much bickering – the new Griffin Centre is officially open.

On Saturday the whole centre was open for anyone interested or plain old stickybeaks to have a nose around and see what’s there and what their new facilities are like. There were also several groups of entertainers around the place, including a town crier, a bunch of drummers out the front and the Canberra City Band.

Griffin Centre town crier

Despite appearances this is Canberra’s town crier, not a pirate.


The group of drummers entertaining crowds outside the new Griffin Centre.

At 2pm the centre was officially opened with speeches by Ngunnawal elder Agnes O’Shea, the president of the Griffin Centre council, a representative from developer Queensland Investments Commission and Jon Stanhope. Also attending the opening were Simon Corbell, John Hargeaves, Wayne Berry, Deb Foskey, Mary Porter and Karin MacDonald (good to see these last two doing something, although I don’t know what they look like to have recognised them).

MLAs at the opening

L-R Sleepy guy, Wayne Berry, the elusive Mary Porter (or so I’m told), Jon Stanhope examining his manicure, John Hargreaves and Simon Corbell who, it would seem, doesn’t dress up on weekends.

The new building incorporates meeting rooms, a general-purpose hall (where the opening was held), a kitchen and café as well as the shopfronts and offices of many community organisations. It does not however have any proper bike parking – a true achievement for a building that houses Pedal Power.

Lack of bike parking

A lack of organised parking areas for bicycles is noticeable out the front.

The Griffin Centre has been part of the Canberra community for about 40 years (there was some disagreement as to whether it opened in 1964 or 66). During its time it has been home to a multitude of community organisations, including Canberra’s first Aboriginal health centre, stamp collectors, the ACT Nudist Club, a cross-country ski association, the Canberra Unidentified Flying Objects Research Society and a soup kitchen.

Organisations in the Griffin Centre

The directory of who’s where in the new building

President of the Griffin Centre council Paul Gamme (sp?) mentioned that it has not all been “plain sailing” to move the various community groups from one home to another. He emphasised they were all very happy to have new premises, but did mention there have been some teething problems, in particular with after hours access and security.

Mr Stanhope talked about the history of the centre, in particular mentioning that on Saturday mornings in the 1970s the building rang with the music of string groups and the training orchestra – a topic close to my heart because they went on to become the Canberra Youth Orchestra Society and then Canberra Youth Music and I too spent many Saturday mornings making music in the Griffin Centre.

A piece of glass with one of the original drawings of the ‘Pearly Griffin’, the centre’s mascot, was presented to someone (I didn’t work out if it was being presented to the Chief Minister or by him). I suspect this came from one of the doors of the original building because until this week the front room of the new building was full of doors, signs and other bits and pieces rescued from the old building which I believe will be knocked down shortly. Long time readers may remember Mr Stanhope’s previous association with the Pearly Griffin.

Mr Stanhope also unveiled a plaque commemorating the occasion. As he did so, the Canberra City Band struck up with the national anthem – possibly overkill but then Canberra doesn’t have its own song – and by halfway through the first verse most of the room had worked out what it was and stood.

Canberra City Band

The Canberra City Band in the centre’s multipurpose hall where the opening was held.

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14 Responses to
New Griffin Centre opens – with pictures!
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joeyjo 9:11 pm 25 Oct 05

It’s too bad that two of the trees out the front have already been destroyed by idiots.

Kerces 10:51 am 24 Oct 05

GuruJ, I do live in Belconnen. I think I may have seen Mary Porter once in a local shopping centre during last year’s election campaign. The only kind of political mail I get are things telling me Bill Stefaniak or Bob McMullan are going to be at my local shops at a time I can’t get there. I mostly don’t have time to read the Chronicle though I know I should. The amount of tv I manage to watch these days is very limited. The thing about people “doing nothing” is part of what Kate Carnell was banging on about when she came up with that idea about having a local council style government — the current government (not Assembly) is too small to be practical because you can only have a very limited front bench because you still need people to sit on committees and stuff whoa ren’t ministers. That means a small number of people end up with a huge amount of work to do. Hope that all makes sense.

GuruJ 10:33 am 24 Oct 05


Can’t speak for Karin MacDonald but you obviously don’t live up North — otherwise you would have received umpteen “Porter Reports”, seen Mary Porter hanging out at various shopping centres, attending community functions, etc etc.

You can play “spot Mary Porter” in most editions of the Chronicle as well.

She’s certainly not “doing nothing” — but she just isn’t visible on the TV nightly news because, well, she’s a backbencher.

Indi 10:29 am 24 Oct 05

I was disappointed that there was no Morris dancing…

bonfire 9:34 am 24 Oct 05

when you die you dont need a priest to conduct a funeral. although im getting a priest, a rabbi and a buddhist to cover all bases.

Thumper 8:01 am 24 Oct 05


Unless you’re Muslim, then you get the preferential treatment.

Interesting, I’ve never seen him on ANZAC Day, but then again, I don’t think I want to see him then.

terubo 6:00 am 24 Oct 05

A secret weapon, Jey. When Stan finally promises not to post ‘confidential’ info on his website, he can get the TC to recite it instead…

Jey 8:56 pm 23 Oct 05

He ye, he ye…
Town Crier, ay? What other events does the Town Crier attend? or was this a one off?

Vic Bitterman 8:06 pm 23 Oct 05

Good to see the centre back.

Whilst I have never used the services of the community groups who are centered there, I don’t begrudge the value to the community that they offer.

Kerces 5:08 pm 23 Oct 05

El I’m not allowed in the orchestra cos I’m just a mere sax player but I cannot remember having had any particularly eccentic conductirs. At least, not more that usual. And I can only think of one with a beard and he’s my current one.

el 4:28 pm 23 Oct 05

Kerces, during your time in the youth orchestra, did you ever encounter an…eccentric bearded guy as your conductor?

terubo 11:02 am 23 Oct 05

The logical conclusion of that, vg, is that he won’t attend his own funeral – or perhaps he thinks he’s immortal?

vg 10:45 am 23 Oct 05

I note with interest than Stanhope will attend openings like this, or the Glasshouse thing at Kingston, but will not bother attending at anything involving a church service, such as the Commemorative service for the victims of the London bombing, or the national Police remembrance day service. This was despite every major political player in this nation attending one or both of the above. The last time Stanhope was seen in an official function near a church was Al Grassby’s funeral.

Religious issues aside, I would have thought it was the CM’s job to attend these things, but not if its in a church apparently. I queried this with his office, and the reply ‘the CM is fulfilling all his obligations’.

Now it seems his social engineering agenda extends to excluding church services.

johnboy 9:44 am 23 Oct 05

If not for the band filling half the room, the audience for the opening might have actually fitted inside rather than standing out in a corridoor looking through glass walls at a long and elaborate mime show.

Not that I minded or anything.

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