The Captain Cook Memorial Jet is a motor-driven water jet located in Canberra's Lake Burleigh Griffin. The jet commemorates Captain Cook's discovery of Australia's east coast and it was opened on the bicentenary of this event (25 April, 1970) by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
The jet's technical specifications (provided kindly by the National Capital Planning Authority) state, "Water is drawn from the lake through a 50-metre intake tunnel to the underground pump house. There are two 4 stage vertical spindle centrifugal pumps capable of pumping 250 litres per second against a head of 183 meters. Each of the pumps is driven by a 560 kilowatt, water-cooled 3.3 kilovolt electric motor. Operation of the Jet can be carried out both remotely using programmable logic controls and also locally using switchgear.
"The water is then pumped through a 450mm diameter steel pipeline which extends approximately 205m from the pump house, through the tunnel and along the lake bed to the concrete nozzle housing structure. The nozzle housing is located 150 metres from the lake wall in the central basin of Lake Burley Griffin. The nozzle housing accomodates 2 discharge nozzles - a main nozzle which operates with both pumps operating simultaneously and a resulting jet of water 147m tall, plus an auxillary nozzle which operates with a single pump operating and a resulting jet of water 110m tall. Remote controlled nozzle selector valves, located in the nozzle housing direct the flow to either the main or auxiliary nozzle. The exit velocity of water leaving the nozzles is 260kph and the mass of water in the air at any time is 3 tonnes on single pump operation and 6 tonnes on dual pump operation."
The Jet is situated in the Parliamentary Triangle, an area that is bound roughly around Parliament House, The National Capital Exhibition and Blundell's Cottage. As such, it is visible from many vantage points in Canberra.
Colloquially, the Captain Cook Memorial Jet is sometimes known as the Captain Cook Ejaculation for its obviously phallic action.
Among certain Governmental circles, there are legends and myths about the Captain Cook Memorial Jet. The jet was intended to be the highest in the world and a significant amount of public support for the project was generated with this fact. Rumour has it that during the initial planning phase, the jet was intended to rise to a height of 135 metres. In 1951, hearing about this plan, the caretakers of Geneva chose to raise the height of the rival Jet d'eau to 140 metres. Rather than risk losing public support, over AUD$1 million was spent on re-designing the Captain Cook jet to raise its height to 147 metres.
A more sketchy rumour states that the recent maintenance of the jet, at a cost of AUD$750,000, was in fact a ploy to annoy the French. The legend states that the French built a water jet that rose a mere 4 ft higher than Australia's. Not to be trumped by the French, a closed-door commission determined that it was cheaper to raise the Captain Cook Jet by another 7 ft than to change every brochure, pamphlet and sign which stated that Australia's Captain Cook Jet was the highest in the world, considering the loss of a few tourist dollars in the process.
Whether there's any truth to these stories is hard to say. Australia's National Capital Planning Authority certainly isn't saying; Geneva and France have no interest in revealing the truth behind them. The latter tale is spurious at best. Even if these tales are false, they serve their purpose as an illustration that national monuments are taken very seriously.
The Captain Cook Memorial Jet operates twice daily all-year round (10am to 12 noon and 2pm to 4pm) as well as an extra session (7pm to 9pm) during Daylight Saving Time.