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As Canberra's raison d'etre, Parliament House is the thing most visitors to the city want to have a gander at. Opened in 1988, new Parliament House (as it's commonly known, to distinguish it from the old Parliament House) is a marble lined monstrosity squatting at the apex of the Parliamentary Triangle. Built into the hill, the roof of the house is lined with grass to make it blend in. In true Australian tradition, the grass is imported lawn mix, which requires gargantuan quantities of water and weedkiller to keep it green and glowing. The interior of the house is rather impressive - each of its major sections is lined with Australian timbers, and it is littered with over 3000 art works bought or commissioned from Australian artists.
Visitors can wander around the public areas of the house, including the House of Representatives and the Senate, though you may have to make a booking if something particularly juicy is being debated. There are free guided tours of the building on non-sitting days.
Old Parliament House, further down the hill towards the lake, was the seat of government from 1927 until 1988. Far more modest than its succesor, the old house resembles a slightly sprawling wedding cake. You can take a tour of the building or wander its pleasant grounds. The house is also home to the National Portrait Gallery.
|Sheri Ann Richerson|