Built in 1927 as the temporary home of Australia’s Parliament for the next 50 years, Old Parliament House served for over 60 before becoming the Museum of Australian Democracy. It’s witnessed declarations of war, hosted the granting of citizenship to Indigenous Australians, been peppered by gunfire, and held up a dismissed Prime Minister on its front steps. It is the epicentre of Australian political history, and a fantastic place to spend a day.
You can have your run of the place for only a few dollars, wandering around, checking out the countless interactive displays and exhibits, including into the parliamentary chambers and up into the press gallery. There’s regular guided tours of the building that also include the Prime Minister’s suite and the Cabinet Room, with plenty of interesting stories along the way. I’ve done the tour 3 times now in the last few years, and I’ve enjoyed it each time and learned something new.
The costume exhibit back on the Senate side to the right will keep both young and old entertained for some time. My wife’s bridesmaids were screaming with laughter for over an hour a few days before our wedding, trying on all manner of period finery. The historical furniture displays and architecture of the building itself are also enough to keep you engaged, and nicely break up all the politics.
The Café in the House has been a bit hit and miss for me over the years, but certainly somewhere nice to get a decent meal, or just a quick drink. While it’s been a few years since I last attended one, the Friday night happy hours in the House of Reps courtyard on the left were always a lively affair, with Canberra’s young up and comers celebrating the end of another week. At the fancier end, the Ginger Room offers up fine dining, and the Members Dining Room is a great place to book out for conferences, weddings and any other special occasion.
They do a great job at Old Parliament House, and it’s well worth a visit.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.