After a safe arrival at Canberra Airport on Thursday night, it was straight on the bus to our accommodation at Leumeah Lodge and in bed by 11:00pm for the Year 7s.
Museum of Australian Democracy (Old Parliament House)
Day 1 commenced bright and early, with students waking to the sight of frost outside their windows. Our first destination was the Museum of Australian Democracy, which is located in Old Parliament House. We got to sit in the original House of Representatives chamber and learnt about the first Speaker of the House, modelled very closely on the British system, and the last Speaker, who also went down in history as Australia’s first female Speaker.
“One of my favourite highlights over the first day was Old Parliament House. The Old Parliament House was going to be a temporary building but, due to the expenses of the war, it was used for 61 years. It is now a national heritage of Australia. They had many interactive activities which taught us about Australia’s Prime Ministers. Since our bodies may leave oily fingerprints everyone was given a pair of white gloves to protect the wood from becoming destroyed. Going to the Old Parliament House was an enjoyable and educational visit. Canberra is off to a great start!” – Georgia Strickling
National Electoral Education Centre
After a break for morning tea and a quick walk we arrived at the National Electoral Education Centre, where we learnt some of the history of how our rights to vote have developed and even conducted a mock election, voting for our favourite fruit. This showed us first-hand how preferential voting works.
After lunch in the Old Parliament gardens, it was time for a quick bus tour of the embassies, before heading up the hill to the new Parliament House.
“New Parliament House has really evolved from the Old Parliament. The rooms are larger; they have a lot more offices for Members of Parliament, and they have a lot more artefacts and pieces of information so we can learn about the history of Canberra and the Federal Parliament. And it’s built into a hill! Everywhere you look, the design of the rooms are outstanding and make you wonder, ‘Who was behind all this?’ We have certainly taken a lot away from this and it helps us apply it to our understanding of Australia’s history” – Liam Murray
Students were impressed with the scale of the new building compared to the old, and learnt a little about how the city of Canberra was purposefully planned and laid out to be Australia’s capital. Fun fact No. 2 – Did you know that the Senate is the only place in Australia that has red emergency exit signs (all others are green)?
It was then time to head back to the Lodge for dinner, devotions and bed.