New Parliament House
New Parliament House is a wonder of contemporary architecture and the final realisation of architect Walter Burley Griffin’s vision for Canberra in 1912. The boomerang-shaped structure was meant to replace the Provisional Parliament House, which is today known as Old Parliament House, at the base of Capital Hill. The new structure was designed by a New York-based architect who won an international competition, and the Queen officially opened Parliament House on May 9, 1988. The month of May was chosen to commemorate the first Federal Parliament gathering in Melbourne in 1901, as well as the inaugural sitting in the Old Parliament House in 1927.
Visitors can enjoy panoramic views of Canberra and discover how Parliament is the centre focus of the city’s street arrangement from the broad grassed walkway that surrounds the roof. The building’s architectural highlights include the two massive granite circular walls that mimic the hill’s contours, the 81-meter flagpole, and the Ceremonial Pool. A eucalyptus forest is created in the foyer by 48 lighted greenish-gray marble columns. Exhibits feature major documents (the Magna Carta is a highlight) and recapitulate important events in Australian history throughout the public spaces. The public galleries of the House of Representatives, which is normally dressed in green, and the Senate, which is traditionally dressed in red, may be accessed from the gallery that runs around the first floor. Visiting during sitting hours is a terrific way to see how parliament works firsthand, and the free guided tours provide intriguing information about the architecture.
Following your visit, walk the 3.5-kilometer Parliament House Walk to the city centre, where explanatory signs will teach you about the Parliamentary Triangle.