I’ve mentioned previously that the Aussie Star family traveled to Canberra earlier this year. There’s no question that the Museum of Australian Democracy (or Old Parliament House) was the highlight of the trip for all of us but particularly for Miss 11. We went twice and if she’d had her way we would have gone back again. She rated it even higher than Questacon! I also have no doubt that Grace got a great deal out of it from an educational perspective since she is in Year 6 and has been learning about Australian Government in her HASS classes at school. She spent ages reading information plaques, interacting with the touch screens and following their instructions to move around the display.
5 Reasons you should visit Old Parliament House
Given her enthusiasm for Old Parliament house I asked her for her Top 5 reasons to visit the Museum of Australian Democracy as part of your trip to Canberra and here’s what she said.
- I liked that they had loads of hands-on things to do.
- It was so cool sitting in the big seats in the Upper and Lower Houses.
- I liked that you could spy on the Prime Minister in his office through a spy hole!
- It only cost $5 for the whole family. What a bargain!
- They have a little kid’s area and an awesome dress-up photo area.
All day fun with an Australian History lesson too!
There’s not much that’s off limits at Old Parliament House. Grace and Mr 3 loved sitting on the deep worn leather seats in the Upper House and Senate, they’re surprisingly comfortable and I can understand how they could be tempted to nod off during parliament! The Speaker of the House’s office was very plush and while you’re not allowed to sit at the official desk you can sit at the secretary’s desk and have a great time looking efficient typing away and answering phone calls like these two monkeys.
Hands-on learning and engaging activities
The Press Room was also a favourite, sitting in the sound proof booth and reading a press release for others to hear in the next room was a highlight as were Bob Hawke’s office, the dress-up room and the Cabinet room with its sound proof door and plush interior.
For parents of little people there’s an excellent playroom that kept our little guy entertained for ages and gave us all a place to rest up before more exploration.
If you’re heading to Canberra, either on your own or with your class for camp, make sure you add The Museum of Australian Democracy to your itinerary. I’ve been twice as part of a school group and the guides are wonderful however, I would allow time for small group exploration if you have enough teachers and parent helpers. I saw more, and engaged in the museum more, by just being free to wander the halls and explore so if you have time this is worth doing after your guided tour.
So, there you have it, Grace’s top 5 reasons to visit Old Parliament House in Canberra and my quick run-down to back them up. The museum really has been well planned and organised to maximise learning opportunities and to genuinely engage students with Australia's democratic history. Make sure you visit when you’re in town. If you’re looking for some more information their website is very helpful.
I’d love to know your favourite place to visit in Canberra or the highlight of your school trip so feel free to leave a comment below.