Paddle boats and the National Cultural Icons: a new collaboration

Can you travel across Lake Burley Griffin on a rainbow?

Or, perhaps, race through the water that connects the capital’s north and south while engaged in Spotto to name the National Cultural Icons that line its shores?

And while you’re at it, wonder how many coins lie at the bottom, thrown by generations of children and adults alike to make their wishes come true?

This summer you can do all that and more with the newly painted Lake Burley Griffin paddle boats officially launched on Wednesday 2 November 2022.

The ever-popular paddle boats have been repainted to reflect our culture and history in a fun and creative way.

Each boat has been re-decorated with fabulous artwork representing some of the most iconic cultural institutions in the National Triangle including the National Museum of Australia, National Library of Australia, National Film & Sound Archive, National Archives of Australia, Visit Canberra, Questacon, Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House, Royal Australian Mint, Australian Parliament House, and the National Capital Authority.

Further, two boats designed by local indigenous artists will be joining the pack.

These boats are bright and colourful and it is hoped they will inspire users to get out and enjoy the cultural institutions that make Canberra so special.

Attributable to Kristy McBain, Minister for Regional Development, Local Government and Territories and Member for Eden-Monaro:

“Canberra is home to 13 of Australia’s most iconic cultural institutions and it is fantastic to see these reflected on the paddle boats.

“The paddle boats with their new cheerful designs are meaningful, inspiring and meant to spark conversations.

“We hope the experience of paddling boats wrapped up in exuberant art will make a visit to the national capital a more memorable one and inspire visitors to check out more of Canberra.”

Attributable to Alicia Payne, Member for Canberra:

“One of my favourite activities as a Canberra kid was paddle boating.

“It is fantastic to see these boats rejuvenated with this incredible artwork.

“Canberrans are proud to live in the national capital and home to our national institutions, these paddle boats are another brilliant way to showcase what’s right here on our doorstop.”

Attributable to Sally Barnes, Chief Executive of the National Capital Authority:

“The new artworks on the paddle boats symbolise the Australian spirit and essence that the cultural icons want to highlight for the community’s greater appreciation.

"It is these cultural icons’ hope that the newly designed paddle boats will provide an opportunity to experience the city in a cool way while celebrating the many and diverse ways by which we contribute to the world.”

In their own words - boat artwork descriptions from the National Cultural Icons

National Museum of Australia - The National Museum of Australia's paddle boat design is inspired by one of the Australian stories featured in our new immersive play space for kids aged 0 - 6 years, the Tim and Gina Fairfax Discovery Centre. Brightly coloured coral adorns the boat and represents the beautiful reefs and diversity of sea life off Australia's coastline. 

National Library of Australia -The National Library of Australia’s boat celebrates communities and the joys of reading. Inspired by illustrations from The Great Book-swapping Machine written by Emma Allen, illustrated by Lisa Coutts and published by NLA Publishing. We hope visitors are inspired to talk about their favourite books while paddling on the lake.

National Film & Sound Archive -The National Film & Sound Archive has designed its paddleboat using a dynamic colour palette that evokes the movement and fluidity of sound and vision.

National Archives of Australia - Our NAA Members Program has inspired the boat's pink design. Dive in and join this passionate community supporting the vital work of National Archives of Australia at

Visit Canberra - Featuring a game of spotto, the VisitCanberra paddleboat design challenges friends and family to spot Canberra’s iconic attractions visible from Lake Burley Griffin. Can you find Australia’s largest musical instrument? Can you paddle around a 152m jet of water? Hop on board, explore Canberra’s famous lake, and see if you can spot everything in the #visitcanberra challenge.

Questacon - Questacon’s paddleboat art reflects one of the most aesthetically pleasing and well recognised scientific phenomenon: the rainbow. We have featured the colours of the visible light spectrum as refracted through a prism. A rainbow can sometimes be seen in the spray from the Captain Cook Memorial Jet on Lake Burley Griffin, which the paddleboats will call home. Questacon’s colours are similar to the red and the violet at the outer edges of the spectrum.

Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House - MoAD’s paddleboat juxtaposes the silhouette of our beautiful 95 year-old building with bright colours and funky shapes – just like our museum features heritage spaces alongside contemporary exhibitions.

Royal Australian Mint - The Royal Australian Mint’s paddle boat design is based on our new visual identity that is fun, friendly and welcoming. As a must-see tourist destination, we encourage visitors to discover the wonder of coins.

Australian Parliament House - Australian Parliament House is reflected onto Lake Burley Griffin with a paddleboat design incorporating geometric patterns, distinctive shapes and architectural forms found in and around Canberra’s best-recognised building.

National Capital Authority - The National Capital Authority chose to paint its boat in celebration of the National Triangle. It is a fun and playful design that uses colours that can be found naturally occurring in the landscape.