Jan 29 2011

Old Parliament House

“Fellow Australians, it is my melancholy duty to inform you officially, that …Great Britain has declared war upon Germany and that, as a result, Australia is also at war.”

“Well may we say “God save the Queen”, because nothing will save the Governor-General!”


Had dinner tonight in ‘The Ginger Room’, which is in Old Parliament House, Canberra, the site of some of Australia’s greatest (political) battles. The Ginger Room restaurant is in the old member’s dining room, where I imagine Bob Menzies and Gough Whitlam would have acted as the host for many an entertaining dinner.



After Federation in 1901, the Australian Parliament first met in Parliament House, Melbourne, which it borrowed from the Victorian parliament (who moved into the Royal Exhibition Building).

Canberra was selected to be the site of the nation’s new capital in 1908. Walter Burley Smith won a contest to design the new city, and construction began in 1913. Work on Parliament House commenced in 1923. It was designed by John Smith Murdoch, the Commonwealth’s Chief Architect, and intended to be a ‘provisional’ building to house parliament for about 50 years.

The Australian parliament sat in Old Pariament House from 1927 until the new building was opened during the bicentennial celebrations in 1988.

By that time, the building was far too small to host the politicians, staff, public servants and journalists who worked there. Many saw this as an advantage – ministers were always accessible, and it was impossible to keep a secret.

The Aboriginal Tent Embassy was established on the lawns in front of Parliament House in 1972 as a protest against the giovernment’s failure to acknowledge aboriginal land rights. It has been a continuous feature since 1992.



Old Parliament House now serves as the Museum of Australian Democracy



A current exhibition is the Best of Australian political cartoons of 2010.




Back to the meal –  the Ginger Room is a very formal restaurant, and the service was impeccable.

The food may have been a bit sophisticated for me – I had some trouble identifying the dishes.


Can you work out what the desert in this slideshow is?


What I Learnt On 29th January in other years

One Response to “Old Parliament House”

  1. soon to be bored at meeting says:

    looks like an example of molecular gastronomy at its worst. Heston would be proud!

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