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Old Parliament House Gardens

Old Parliament House Gardens

The Old Parliament House Gardens are located in the heart of the Parliamentary Zone on either side of Old Parliament House. The Gardens have been restored to their former glory, enhanced with the introduction of features such as seating pavilions, pergolas, rose arbours, pathways, gateways and the refurbishment of the tennis courts and bowling green.

History of the Gardens

When Members and Senators arrived in Canberra for the opening of Provisional (Old) Parliament House in 1927 they were met with bare ground and a hedge, just half a metre high, planted by the Superintendent of Parkes and Gardens, Charles Weston. The bush landscape stood in stark contrast to the established lush gardens of the temporary Parliament in Melbourne. 

From 1931 to 1938, the Secretary of the Joint House Department, Robert Broinowski, set about establishing gardens to the east and west of Old Parliament House. Hedges surrounding the gardens were soon planted to mitigate the wind. Tennis courts, a cricket pitch and bowling green were established along with four rose gardens. These were for the exclusive use of members and staff.The idea of a garden languished for several years until Robert Broinowski, Secretary of the Joint House Department, took up the cause. With the assistance of the National Rose Society of New South Wales, Broinowski initiated the design and planting of an open garden based on patterned rose and annuals display beds, set in lawns and with a minimum of trees. Many of the roses were donated by rose societies, companies and individuals, and Parliament House staff.

In 1988, when 'new' Parliament House opened on Capital Hill, occupation of the Old Parliament House ceased for a time. Hidden away behind a rambling hedge and secluded gates, the Gardens became neglected. The well-used tennis courts were locked and the grand floral displays reduced in size.

The reconstruction program for the Old Parliament House Gardens commenced in 2000 with the replanting of the hedges. The Gardens have had their original character and design intent replicated in appreciation of their historic and cultural significance to the nation, along with the addition of paths and public facilities. The four rose gardens have been replanted with new roses and reconstructed to their original designs.

Opening hours:

  • Summer hours (during daylight savings): 7am to 8pm
  • Winter hours: 7am to 5pm

Old Parliament House Gardens Guided Walking Tours

Bookings can be made via the online booking system (external site) or, for groups:

Phone: (02) 6272 2902

Fax: (02) 6247 1875

E-mail: nce@nca.gov.au

The Gardens are available for public and corporate functions by contacting the National Capital Authority on 02 6272 2901 or email events@nca.gov.au.

For more information can be found under Venues on National Land.

The tennis courts in the House of Representatives and Senate Gardens are available for public hire. Contact Tennis Canberra on play@tenniscanberra.com.au.