First opened in 1856, the Parliament House of Victoria is home to the state parliament of Victoria, and its grand colonnaded frontage makes it a Melbourne landmark. The Parliament House steps are a popular spot for wedding photos—and for protesters, although the lawmakers here operate at local level and sit relatively infrequently.
Many visitors to Melbourne choose to admire the impressive exterior of Parliament House. Its scenic steps make it a popular drive-by for Melbourne bike tours, but it’s also an occasional photo-stop on other Melbourne city tours.
Australia, like the US, operates a federal system. Victoria is one of the country’s six states and two territories, and Melbourne is Victoria’s state capital. Options for visiting the interior of Victoria’s Parliament House depend on whether the two legislative houses are “sitting” (in session). When they are not sitting, free Parliament House tours run on weekdays; when they are sitting, public tours run on Tuesday morning, and the public may watch from the gallery.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The neoclassical frontage makes a stop at Parliament House a must for architecture buffs.
- If Parliament is not sitting, you can visit for a traditional high tea, served since 1924: Booking in advance is advised.
- There is wheelchair access to much of Parliament House.
How to Get There
Set on Spring Street and Bourke Street, Parliament House sits on the fringes of Melbourne city center, with its own station, Parliament, on the City Loop train route. It’s under a mile (1.3 kilometers) to walk here from Flinders Street station, or just a few minutes by tram.
When to Get There
The Parliament House of Victoria’s gardens are at their best during late spring and summer (roughly November to February), which is also the most popular time for weddings. You can visit year-round. If you’d like to tour the interior, check to see if Parliament is sitting, and visit during the week.
Building Parliament House
The Parliament House of Victoria is one of Melbourne’s signature landmarks, but construction is still incomplete. Architect Peter Kerr labored on the design for more than 40 years, yet a dome originally planned for the 1870s has yet to be delivered. A recent modern extension to the building features a green roof and sunken courtyard.