Old Parliament House
Old Parliament House was constructed in the 1920s as a provisional base for the national parliament. It was designed in a stripped classical style with little ornamentation, but is decorated with numerous artworks and Australian timber panelling. Today it’s home to the Museum of Australian Democracy, hosting exhibits about the evolution and workings of the Australian political system.
Make your way up the front steps and into King’s Hall. You’ll see a large statue of King George V and reliefs of key figures in the creation of the Commonwealth of Australia. Turn left to reach the House of Representatives, decorated with green leather and carpets in the style of the British House of Commons. On the right are the Senate chambers with red leather and carpets after the House of Lords. Visit the old Prime Minister’s Office or step outside to walk among rose gardens.
Inside the Museum of Australian Democracy, learn about the people and events that have made Australian politics what it is today. There are also artifacts from around the world, including a piece of the Berlin Wall. Move on to Living Democracy to read stories about people who’ve campaigned for voting rights, equality and social change in Australia.
Visit the Opposition Party Room to brush up on the intricacies of the Australian two-party system. Kids can learn about democracy, its history and how it relates to them in Hands on Democracy. The museum also holds regular special exhibitions; check the website for details.
Museum of Australian Democracy is on King George Terrace, between Parliament House and Lake Burley Griffin. ACTION buses from Canberra’s central business district service the house and other attractions in the area. Parking is limited, but where available it is generally free.
The museum is open every day except Christmas Day. There’s a small admission fee, but you can join a guided tour and visit the museum for no extra cost. It’s also free to enter on special occasions and anniversaries. Check the website for these dates.