Admire the scale, architecture and artwork of the building where Australia’s politicians make the big decisions.
Australia’s Parliament House is the standout structure in the capital. It’s in the very centre of the city and has an impressive 25 hectares (62 acres) of floor space. It’s the work of New York-based architectural firm Mitchell and Giurgola, who beat 329 entrants from 28 countries in a competition run by the Australian Government. Construction started in 1981, and it was officially opened by Queen Elizabeth II in 1988.
Take in the scale of the building as you make your way over the mosaic forecourt, an artwork in itself. The building is designed to sit below the crest of the hillside and contains 4,500 rooms. Look up to see a 220-tonne (246-ton) flagpole flying a 6.4 by 12.8-metre (21 by 42-foot) Australian flag. Continue up the grassy slopes that cover the roof and look out over the city. There are great views of Lake Burley Griffin and the greater Canberra area.
Make your way through the marble and timber Main Foyer and into the Great Hall. Here you’ll see a tapestry based on a painting by Australian artist Arthur Boyd. It depicts a eucalyptus forest and measures 20 by nine metres (65 by 29 feet), making it one of the largest in the world. Keep exploring the building to admire other artworks and see the rooms from which the country is governed.
Take a free guided tour to learn about the building and its history or visit the House of Representatives and Senate. These rooms are where politicians meet and debate, and are at the heart of Australian democracy. Fans of politics can sit in the public galleries and watch Question Time, a session in which members of parliament grill ministers with questions.
You’ll find Parliament House in the very centre of Canberra on Capitol Hill. It’s open every day except Christmas Day. Tours run throughout the day. Entry and on-site parking is free, and there’s a café and restaurant. ACTION buses from Canberra’s central business district stop here as well as other major attractions.