Paliment House Canberra, Australia

The Capital city of Australia

Canberra is a city of about 310,000 people located in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) approximately 200 kilometres from Sydney. Most of the people in Canberra are employed by the federal government.

Canberra is a very young city. The plans for the city were only drawn up in 1911 and construction didn't commence until 1913.

The grand design for the city was drawn up by a relatively obscure american architect named Walter Burley Griffin. The lake which is a central focus of the city today is named after him.

With its imposing buildings, broad boulevards and uncluttered streetscape (there are no billboards, in Canberra) it lacks the charm and vibrancy of more cosmopolitan cities such as Sydney and Melbourne.

What does the word Canberra  mean?

It is derived from the aborigine name Kamberra.

It means
"meeting place".

Australian Parliament Building viewed from War Memorial

Federal Parliament House

The Federal Parliament House is built on top of Capital Hill. It was completed in 1988 and replaces the old parliament house which is located further down the hill. The building was designed to merge into the profile of the hill itself. A stainless steel flag mast 81 metres tall surmounts the building from which flutters the Australian flag (the flag is as big as a double decker bus).

It cost over 800 million dollars when it was completed in 1988. It is considered to be one of the most attractive parliament buildings anywhere in the world.

Australina Parliment Members Hall

Members Hall

The Members Hall is at the very centre of the Parliament complex between the House of Representatives and Senate chambers. It has a large skylight canopy through which can be seen the stainless steel flag mast and the Australian flag.


Australian Parliament House of Reps Chamber

House of Representatives Chamber

The House of Representatives Chamber can seat up to 240 Members of Parliament.

Currently there are approximately 148 members. They are popularly elected for three year terms. The numbers of members representing each state is proportional to their populations but there must be must be at least five members from each state.


According the the Australian Constitution the House of Representative must always have at least twice the number of members as the Senate.

Australian Parliment Senate Chamber

Senate Chamber

 The Senate Chamber can seat 120 Senators.

Currently there are 76 senators. They are popularly elected for 6 year terms. There are 12 senators from each state and two each from each territory.


Walter Burley Griffin
Walter Burley Griffin

History of Canberra

Aborigines lived around what is now Canberra for thousands of years.

1820 The first Europeans to visit the Limestones plains where current day Canberra is located were Joseph Wild, James Vaughan and Charles Throsby.

1824 Joshua John Moore took up the first land grant on the Limestone Plains. He called his property "Canberry" after the name the local aborigines called the place. His property was where the the Australian National University and Lake Burley Griffin is today.

1825 Robert Campbell started a grazing station on the Limestone Plains. He named his property "Duntroon" after the family castle in Scotland. He built a house called Duntroon House which was added on to by his son and descendants. It is part of the Royal Military College today.

Many other people also farmed and grazed the land around the Limestone Plains.

1901 On January 1 Queen Victoria signed the Constitution Act making Australia an independent country. Both Sydney and Melbourne wanted the national capital to be in their cities. So to prevent too much rivalry a search was begun to find a new site for the federal capital.

1908 The Canberra area was selected as the future site for the capital of Australia.

1911 An international competition was launched to find the best plan for the new city. The design by an American landscape architect named Walter Burley Griffin won the competition.

1927 The temporary federal parliament building was completed and federal parliament moved from Melbourne to its new home in Canberra.

1978 It was decided that a new parliament building was needed to replace the temporary building which had been used for over fifty years.

1988 The new Parliament House was opened by Queen Elizabeth 2.





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