Home' The Canberra Times : See Canberra Spring 2015 Contents See Canberra | SPRING 2015 23
It s little wonder that so many interstate
and international visitors to the capital
make Parliament House their number
one destination upon arriving in our city.
It s one of the most instantly recognisable
buildings in Australia, forming the backdrop
for nightly news reports across the country and
dominating the ACT skyline.
We all know that it houses the Senate and
the House of Representatives (thanks to the
mandatory primary school tour), but what you
might not realise is just how much there is for
visitors to do in the building.
" e building is a major attractor because
of its iconic status," director of programs and
visitor experience Vicki Northey says.
"We get visitors who are interested in such
a wide range of things when they come --
they are interested in the architecture, in the
work being done here, and they love to see
Parliament in action, both when it s sitting and
when it isn t sitting. Just getting to experience
the seat of Australian democracy is an amazing
"But they re also interested in the artworks
on display, and in going to the roof, which
o ers one of the best views in Canberra and is a
popular place to get a special photograph."
On September 19 Parliament House is
hosting an open day -- a special event only
held once every two years, giving people the
opportunity to go behind the scenes and
explore corners of the building not normally
open to the public.
" is is a really special opportunity for
visitors," Northey says.
"You can see so much more of Parliament
House -- you can actually go through the
chambers rather than just look down from
Northey says the open day will be a must-see
event not only for visitors, but for members
of the Canberra community who want to help
celebrate this amazing building and learn a bit
more about it.
en, for four weeks during September and
October coinciding with Floriade, Parliament
House holds its own spring celebration,
opening up its stunning gardens to the public.
"We open up the private courtyards at
Parliament House to everyone who s keen to
see these magni cent spaces," Northey says.
"Spring is one of the best times here in the
courtyard, so our guides lead people through to
see rsthand these spaces that you may catch a
glimpse of on the nightly news when people are
" ey get to see the Fuji blossoms and some
of the other extraordinary owering trees and
shrubs that we have in the gardens, as well as
water features and sculptures."
If you re an avid gardener a er some more in-
depth information on the building s plant life,
you can take an extended Meet the Gardener
"Over two hours our gardeners take visitors
around the courtyards and the landscapes of
Parliament House. ey really go in-depth
about how the irrigation systems work,
how they control pests using benign pest
management processes, getting into the nitty
gritty of how the gardens are looked a er,
managed and presented so beautifully."
Until October 11, visitors to Parliament
House can also peruse Gestures of Goodwill,
an exhibition displaying some of the most
memorable gi s presented to the Australian
Parliament and its o ceholders over the past
Parliament House art collection manager
Justine Van Mourik explains that since it
opened in 1988 Parliament House has amassed
a stunning collection of gi s.
"A lot of the o cial gi s in 88 were about
governments from around Australia and the
world saying is is the best culturally that we
have to o er to furnish your parliament ," she
We get visitors who
are interested in such
a wide range of things
when they come
Every spring Parliament House opens its stunning gardens to the public. Photos: David Foote, Auspic / DPS
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