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Old Parliament House

Tour this building to see where Australian politicians met and debated for over 60 years and learn about the history and workings of Australian democracy.

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.


Guide to Exploring Old Parliament House


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Little National Hotel Canberra £74
Little National Hotel Canberra

Little National Hotel Canberra

21 National Circuit, Barton, ACT
     
    4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

    Located in Capital Hill, this spa hotel is within 1 mile (2 km) of National Archives of Australia, National Gallery of Australia and Parliament House. Commonwealth Park and National Convention Centre are also within 3 miles (5 km). Kingston Canberra Station is 26 minutes by foot.

    Burbury Hotel & Apartments £84
    Burbury Hotel & Apartments

    Burbury Hotel & Apartments

    1 Burbury Close, Canberra, Barton, ACT
       
      4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

      Located in Capital Hill, this luxury hotel is within 1 mile (2 km) of Manuka Oval, Parliament House and National Gallery of Australia. Commonwealth Park and National Convention Centre are also within 3 miles (5 km). Kingston Canberra Station is 26 minutes by foot.

      Hyatt Hotel Canberra - a Park Hyatt £141
      Hyatt Hotel Canberra - a Park Hyatt

      Hyatt Hotel Canberra - a Park Hyatt

      Commonwealth Avenue, Yarralumla, ACT
         
        5.0 out of 5.0 Stars

        Located in Capital Hill, this luxury hotel is within 1 mile (2 km) of Albert Hall, National Gallery of Australia and Parliament House. Commonwealth Park and National Convention Centre are also within 2 miles (3 km).

        Hotel Kurrajong Canberra £78
        Hotel Kurrajong Canberra

        Hotel Kurrajong Canberra

        8 National Circuit, Barton, ACT
           
          4.5 out of 5.0 Stars

          Located in Capital Hill, this luxury hotel is within a 15-minute walk of National Archives of Australia, National Gallery of Australia and Parliament House. Commonwealth Park and National Convention Centre are also within 3 miles (5 km). Kingston Canberra Station is 29 minutes by foot.

          Crowne Plaza Canberra £77
          Crowne Plaza Canberra

          Crowne Plaza Canberra

          1 Binara Street, Canberra, ACT
             
            4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

            Located in Canberra City Centre, this hotel is within a 5-minute walk of Glebe Park and National Convention Centre. Canberra Centre and Commonwealth Park are also within 15 minutes.

            Hotel Realm £109
            Hotel Realm

            Hotel Realm

            18 National Circuit, Barton, ACT
               
              4.5 out of 5.0 Stars

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              Forrest Hotel and Apartments £49
              Forrest Hotel and Apartments

              Forrest Hotel and Apartments

              30 National Circuit, Forrest, ACT
                 
                3.5 out of 5.0 Stars

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                Novotel Canberra £76
                Novotel Canberra

                Novotel Canberra

                65 Northbourne Avenue, Canberra, ACT
                   
                  4.5 out of 5.0 Stars

                  Located in Canberra City Centre, this luxury hotel is within a 15-minute walk of Canberra Centre, Australian National University and National Convention Centre. Lake Burley Griffin and Commonwealth Park are also within 1 mi (2 km).