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Free Things To Do  Parliament House Canberra

Free Experience

Parliament House Canberra

  • One of Australia's most striking buildings
  • Offers wonderful views overlooking Canberra
  • Visitors can attend public sessions of Parliament
  • Excellent displays of artwork
  • Guided tours available for extra insight
  • Enjoyable gift shop offering good quality items
View All Canberra Experiences
What you need to know
Location

More than just a home for government, Australia’s Parliament House (formerly New Parliament House) is an impressive feat of architecture and design that forms, alongside the Sydney Opera House, one of Australia’s two great buildings of the 20th century. Designed to align with Walter Burley Griffin’s original plans for Canberra as a city, Parliament House is embedded in the earth overlooking Canberra and was built to “become one” with the landscape. It’s a graceful and symbolic piece of architecture that shows a remarkably different approach to design than many of the rest of the world’s seats of government.

The building had its grand opening in 1988 as part of Australia’s bicentennial celebrations, with its design understated and sleek rather than ominous and intimidating. It’s a layout that promotes accessibility to the public, with visitors given an almost uncommonly-wide degree of access be it the building’s roof, its main foyer (which houses a historic original copy of the Magna Carta), and the chambers of both the upper and lower houses.

Stepping inside the building, it’s clear that no expense has been spared here – the interior is elaborate, featuring plenty of marble and elaborately-carved panels replete with portraits of past political and social figures dotting the walls. It’s a public work that blends Australian history with art and impressive decor to become one of Canberra’s main attractions.

Outstanding views of Canberra can be had from the building’s roof via elevator access, with its soaring 81m-high flagpole a staple of tourist imagery for its 30-plus years of operation. The Members Hall provides a showcase of portraits of former prime ministers, while contemporary art exhibits as part of the Parliament House Art Collection (featuring over 6,000 works) can be perused at the public’s leisure.

Free guided tours of New Parliament House are held at five different sessions throughout the day run by enthusiastic tour guides who can provide a further level of curation and insight to the various historical features, rooms and documents which highlight various parts of Australia’s history. Alternatively, booking a ticket (free of charge) provides public access to Question Time when parliament is sitting, providing the opportunity to garner a first-person view of those altering the future of our country.

Highlights

One of Australia's most striking buildings Offers wonderful views overlooking Canberra Visitors can attend public sessions of Parliament

Operating Hours

Non-sitting days 9am-5pm. Sitting days: Monday - Tuesday 9am-6pm, Wednesday - Thursday 8.30am-6pm

Location

Parliament Dr, Canberra ACT, 2600