Monday, September 26, 2011
Old Parliament House
From 1927 until 1988, when Parliament transferred to the new Parliament House up on the hill behind, this was the home of the Australian Parliament. It was only ever meant to be 'provisional', and to serve for 50 years, but it took 61 years to be replaced. The building now houses the Museum of Australian Democracy, which sounds quite dry and boring - it took me a long time to convince the family that we should visit!
There was some debate about whether this building should be demolished or not. In Walter Burley Griffin's opinion, its location in front of the site he planned for the permanent Parliament House was like 'filling the front yard with outhouses' - he believed the vista down to the lake and beyond should be kept clear. However, it was decided that the building was significant in the nation's history, and after remaining vacant for a few years, it reopened as a temporary venue for the National Portrait Gallery. In 2009, the Portrait Gallery moved to its new purpose-built building next to the National Gallery of Australia, and the Museum of Australian Democracy open in May of that year.
Once inside the heritage-listed building, there's a lot to see and do, and the children really enjoyed the MoADventure Trail (designed for ages 5-12, although younger kids could look for the clues with some help. And there's a prize at the end :) ). At $2 entry for adults, $1 concession, and $5 for a family, it's a cheap day out, and there are plenty of other Canberra attractions nearby if you have time to spare.