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Known as the capital city of Australia, Canberra sure has its charm. With so much consideration, the federations of the colonies chose the area called Canberra as the capital city.
The development of Canberra was thoroughly planned since the federations of the colonies of Australia had aimed for the Commonwealth of Australia and needed a seat of government. After the completion of the development of Canberra, they also decided to build the Parliament House in Canberra. Silently keeping secrets as the seat of the government of Australia, it is one of the great places to visit in Canberra.
A Journey To The Development Of The Parliament House
As mentioned earlier, Canberra was an exclusively planned capital city, making it one of only 7 planned capital cities in the world according to Reuters. Canberra was built according to the winning design by an American couple, architects: Walter Burley Griffin and Marion Mahony Griffin. Yet, the Parliament House build was another story.
Meanwhile, nothing much has been happening in Canberra’s development since the World War outbreak. After World War I, the building of the new capital city began. While waiting, they built a temporary Parliament House that served the nation from 1927 to 1988.
In between, around 1979, the federation launched an international competition dedicated to the Parliament House’s construction. The winning design went to the American-based firm Mitchell/Giurgola & Thorp Architects during the announcement in 1980.
The construction of the building started in 1981, sitting in Capital Hill to cover up the site of 80 acres by scooping out around thirty-five million cubic feet of rocks from the site. The construction was planned to be ready by January 1988. However, since the delay of its construction, the Parliament House was officially opened by Queen Elizabeth II on 9 May 1988.
The Compelling Details of The Parliament House
There are many stories behind the new Parliament House in Canberra construction. From the construction structure, it is the fact that the Parliament House site is located on Capital Hill, yet the actual height is about 13 feet higher than the hill’s height.
The materials of the building were various, but mostly using Australian materials. The building is divided into four main areas, which are:
- A central ceremonial and public space area with the Great Hall, where the largest tapestry based on Arthur Boyd’s works and a forecourt mosaic of 196 square meters, decorates the place alongside the marble staircase.
- The House of Representatives and offices on the eastern side are embellished in green, the color of the Australian bush, eucalyptus.
- The Senate’s chamber and offices are on the western side of the building, covered in red.
- The executives’ government wing is located at the southern end of the building’s structure.
In addition to the core structure, the Parliament House has other compelling details such as:
- A fossilized piece of coral which is 345 years old, called Shawn the Prawn attached to one of the black marble tiles in Parliament’s marble foyer.
- At the Parliament House’s center is a reflective pool constructed out of a quite huge South Australian Black Imperial granite slab.
- Hundreds of portraits of past Prime Ministers and other Australian government faces are hung in the Parliament House.
- The artworks collection in the Parliament House were coming from various Australian genres of art, and it counts up to over 6000 pieces.
- The Australian flag flies on the 81-meter flag mast in the accurate center of the building 24 hours a day.
What To Expect From The Parliament House Visit
There are a lot of activities and experienced visitors can get involved in by visiting the Parliament House. There are different types of guided tours, from the architecture of the Parliament House, the Prime Minister portrait tour to the Heart of the House tour.
Visitors can also admire the Arts collection in the House, divided into non-paid and paid exhibitions. Or else, you can enjoy exploring the garden, learning about the Australian flag, sipping a cup of coffee at the Queen’s Terrace Cafe, and window shopping at the Parliament Shop.
A visit to the Parliament House is granted freely to the public. The free access allows the visitor to access all non-paid and exhibition galleries. Still, a book in advance is necessary. Visiting the Parliament House in Canberra is a must thing to do when you are in Canberra since it is the place to learn about the celebration, memorials, and political things that shaped Australia as a nation.
For more insight into the government city’s seat, please look at our articles about Lake Burley Griffin, The National Gallery of Australia, and fascinating observations of the Australian War Memorial Museum.