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The National Carillon

Home > Canberra > Fun Things To Do | Music | Fun for Children | Family
by Felicity Banks (subscribe)
I'm a writer of interactive and normal novels including steampunk fantasy app books set mainly in Australia. Banks
Published November 29th 2012
Island of angel music
The National Carillon has always intrigued me as a sleek and imposing building on the other side of the lake. Plus it looks like it just might take off.

It's a building made for just one purpose: to house an instrument called a Carillon (hence the name). A carillon is a set of at least twenty-three brass bells. Australia's National Carillon has fifty-five bells weighing between seven kilos and six tonnes. Plus it has its own island (with a footbridge but no cars allowed). The island is manmade, so the edges tend to smell (the lake is manmade too) but it's verdant and shady and populated by lovely benches and picnic tables. And it has ducks. My Canberran friends came close to passing out when I said I'd never heard the Carillon or even been close. I'm rather astonished myself. It's brilliant!

The building is made up of three triangular columns (one has a lift, one has fire stairs, and the third has building stuff). There is no ground floor, so anyone can walk beneath the carillon itself. There's also a viewing place above the carillon (and I WILL get in there some day). It's fifty metres high, so the music comes from above.

The music is rather loud – the first note made me jump – but not uncomfortably so. People living close to the lake (on any side) must hear its echoes almost daily. It's rather a lot like hearing music played on church bells. One weird side-effect of playing bells is that their echoes last quite a while, so every so often you get many notes overlapping each other. I bet there's a time delay, too, so being a carillonist is even harder than it looks. But what a fabulous talent to have.

The weather today was perfect and many people were picnicking on the lakeshore, and on the island (there are also two other small islands nearby). It was a very pleasant experience, and I very much admire whoever had the vision to build the darn thing.
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Why? Because it looks like a rocket, and sounds like clouds.
When: When you want your music falling from above.
Phone: 6271 2888
Where: Aspen Island
Cost: Free
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