Spring St · interesting places nearby
Parliament House information
The grand steps of Victoria’s parliament (c 1856) are often dotted with slow-moving, tulle-wearing brides smiling for the camera, or placard-holding protesters doing the same. The only way to visit inside is on a tour, where you'll see exuberant use of ornamental plasterwork, stencilling and gilt full of gold-rush era pride and optimism. Building began with the two main chambers: the lower house (now the legislative assembly) and the upper house (now the legislative council).
The library was added in 1860 and Queen’s Hall in 1879. Australia’s first federal parliament sat here from 1901, before moving to Canberra in 1927. Though they’ve never been used, gun slits are visible just below the roof, and a dungeon is now the cleaners’ tearoom.
Free tours, held when parliament is in recess, take you through both houses and the library. Fascinating design features and the symbolism underlying much of the ornamentation are illuminated by the knowledgeable guides. Ask about the mystery of the stolen ceremonial mace that disappeared from the lower house in 1891 – it’s rumoured to have ended up in a brothel. Express 20-minute tours run on Monday to Friday at 1pm and 4pm, and architectural tours once a month. Booking is essential.