Brassey Weddings Masthead


Roslyn Hull

The Captain Cook Memorial Jet will be operating at its maximum height on Canberra Day Monday.

See it while you can because this will only happen again for special occasions and state visits.

Anyone who reads HerCanberra regularly will know me as the nerdiest film commentator in the ACT. However I do hold down a real job. I work for the National Capital Authority, telling the story of Canberra at the National Capital Exhibition and (as those awful old ads said) “I’m excited!”

Most years I’ll be the person at the holiday barbeque regaling everyone with stories of Lady Denman and the naming of Canberra. Telling complete strangers about the gold cigarette case holding the name and the Oscar-like moment when she opened it – naming our capital ‘Canberra’. I might segue into the story of King O’Malley’s suit (apparently he neglected to pack his good one and had to wear his day-to-day tweeds). Or muse on the soldiers at the ceremony who would volunteer to serve in the First World War just a year later.

But not this year. This year I’m excited because we are welcoming back a landmark, an old friend, one of those things that makes Canberra … Canberra. This year it’s all about the Captain Cook Memorial Jet.

It’s back – bigger and better than ever!

Whilst our jet always looked magnificent, the pumps, hydraulics and other workings had not had a serious overhaul in more than 20 years. The complete refurbishment of all these components has been a big job but it is now done. The bronze globe showing Captain Cook’s voyages has also been refurbished – so it is time to get down to the lake and get some new happy snaps of the family.

This Canberra Day holiday (on Monday) the jet will be shooting up to its newly certified (and increased) full height of 152metres from 8:00am to 10:00am and again from 3:00pm to 5:00pm. For those with a more romantic idea of what a fountain should be – the new lights will be switched on (with the jet operating at its usual height of 114 metres) from 7:00pm to 9:00pm.

‘Jet’ is a much more appropriate name than fountain for what we in our lake. Depending on whether one or both pumps are operating it can send between three and six tonnes of water into the air. Think of it as tossing one or two full grown elephants three Olympic swimming pool lengths into the sky. Wow! But that’s not my favourite statistic, speaking as a bit of a speed demon, I’m impressed that the water shoots out at about 260kms per hour. Beat that, Formula One drivers!

Queen Elizabeth II was on hand on the 25th April 1970 to dedicate the Captain Cook Memorial and it has been part of Canberra life ever since. It is such a Canberra landmark that one dad invented stories for his daughter about a fairy that lived on the top of the jet – the rainbow is caused by her twirling, glittery gown. Generations of tourists have tried to play with perspective – taking photos that make it look like the jet is spraying from their mouth or even being fired out of a water pistol.

However, my favourite jet moments have been when the wind whips up whilst it’s operating. I’ve been inside the National Capital Exhibition with water spray billowing around the building and it feels a little like we are in a beached ship, perhaps in search of a lost treasure. But that’s just me.

The weather this weekend promises to be splendid so don’t miss this opportunity to see our jet looking its best. However, if you do miss it, it will be making an appearance (at normal operating height of 114 metres) every day from 11:00am – 2:00pm. #loveourjet


Ros Hull

Roslyn is a writer and storyteller who loves all things Canberra, her family, sci fi and movies – but not in that order. She has worked in museum education since 2001 and has a passion for imparting knowledge to others. Writing is her happy place, particularly if there is a dog at her feet and a coffee in her hand. More about the Author