Parliament House is designed to be a part of the surrounding landscape. Its 33-hectare site includes 23 hectares of landscaping, ranging from areas evoking the Australian bush to turfed areas, and formal and semi-formal gardens with native and exotic plants—much of which you are welcome to explore.
"The form and detailing of the building and its landscape clearly signify the presence of a democratic forum for the Nation…..Sculptural elements may be part of the exterior landscape, while the landscape itself may assume the role of work of a work of art. The effort throughout the building and its environment should be to retain a sense of unity and balance among all elements of the building" - Ronaldo Giurgola, Architect.
Nine hectares of native gardens surround the eastern, southern and western side of Parliament House outside Parliament Drive. There are 4,500 trees and 135,000 shrubs and groundcovers growing in the landscape, many of which are indigenous to the Australian Capital Territory. You can explore these gardens any time.
Want to learn more about Parliament's native gardens? Our Landscape and Gardens Walk booklet is available at the Parliament Shop.
Formal garden and Chinese lions
The design for the formal garden on the eastern side of Parliament House is inspired by English and French formal garden designs. In the centre is a traditional water feature, which creates gentle sound and movement in the space. The gardens surrounding the water feature displays of annuals with approximately 3,500 plants, which are changed in spring and autumn.
You'll find the Chinese lions at the entrance to the formal gardens. Statues of guardian lions were traditionally installed at the entrances of imperial and government buildings in China. They are usually found in pairs, the male resting a paw on a ball and the female restraining a playful cub on its back.
Make sure to visit the granite drinking fountain on the north east corner terrace of Parliament Drive. A gift from the Returned Services League of Australia (RSL), the fountain is comprised of four precision-cut South Australian black Imperial granite blocks. The top surface is inscribed with the words, 'Look around you. These are the things they believed in...' Surrounding the block are four low bronze sculptures representing the four distinctive hats worn by the Australian Defence Forces.
Armillary sphere sundial
The armillary sphere sundial on the north west corner terrace of Parliament Drive was a gift from the Country Women's Association (CWA). Armillary sphere sundials are modelled on the celestial or terrestrial sphere and are constructed of several interlocking rings that support the gnomon, a rod that spans the axis of the sphere. The gnomon casts a shadow onto the equatorial ring so that you can tell the time for the exact position of the sundial.
1. Photo: Department of Parliamentary Services
2. Chinese female lion dog, one of a pair, c.1987. Carved white Han marble. Gifted by the People's Republic of China, 1988. Gifts Collection, Parliament House Art Collection.
3. Peter Corlett (born 1944) and Anne Ferguson (born 1959) designed and fabricated in collaboration with Mitchell/Giurgola and Thorp, Drinking fountain, 1988. Polished and carved black granite, cast bronze, incised text. Gifted by the Returned Services League of Australia, 1988. Gifts Collection, Parliament House Art Collection.
4. Hendrick Forster (born 1947), Armillary sphere sundial, 1987. Cast bronze, polished black granite base in four sections, engraved text, bronze letters. Gifted by the Country Women's Association of Australia, 1988. Gifts Collection, Parliament House Art Collection.