Of all the things we did in Canberra it was probably the visit to Parliament House that surprised the most on the upside. The guided tour was superb, the exhibitions compact and interesting, and the building itself totally impressive - and so it should be, it cost $1.1 billion (5x budget) in 1988 (when it was opened by the Queen).
Above & left: forecourt & main entrance (marble).
Federal Parliament meetings were first held in Melbourne until 1927. Between 1927 and 1988, the Parliament of Australia met in the Provisional Parliament House, which is now known as "Old Parliament House".
Above Right & Below Right: Old Parliament House, the War Memorial and Mt Ainslie from the forecourt.
Left: Australia is the only country in the world that eats both animals on its national Coat of Arms.
The new building was designed by Mitchell/ Giurgola Architects from Philadelphia following a design competition that drew 329 entries from 29 countries. Construction began in 1981 and took 7 years. The principal design of the structure is based on the shape of two boomerangs and is topped by a 101 metre flag mast which weighs 250 tons - one of the largest stainless steel structures in the world. The flag is the size of half a tennis court.
The site covers 80 acres (32 ha). The design involved burying most of the building under Capital Hill. About one million cubic metres of rock had to be excavated from the site. The building is now four metres higher than the original height of the hill. Most of the granite used was sourced from Australia. Twice the amount needed was quarried as a very high standard of granite was required particularly for the curved walls.
Right: the first floor is the main access and display area, including the portraits of many Prime Ministers. The timbers used throughout Parliament House are mainly Australian. They include coachwood, jarrah, blackbutt, brush box, white birch, turpentine, silver ash and grey box. Ebony used in the Great Hall was a gift from Papua New Guinea to the Australian people.
Parliament House is one of the largest buildings in the southern hemisphere. It is 300 metres long and 300 metres wide, has a floor area of more than 250,000 square metres and 4500 rooms. When Parliament meets, 4000 to 5000 people work in the building.
Left and Right: the magnificent Foyer is made of imported marble: Granitello Nero from Belgium, Atlantide Rosa from Portugal, and Rosso Levanto from Italy.