Canberra Tales: Parliamentary Gardens


There are many tales to be told about the design and the delivery of Australia’s Parliament House. There is one that involves a very clever person who realised he had the opportunity to use an everyday object as part of his own business branding.

Way back when the architecture team was being put together by Mitchell Giurgola & Thorp for the design and ultimately for the delivery of the new Parliament House, a landscape architect, Peter Roland from New York, was invited to join.

It was this landscape architect who was then responsible for the outside open spaces that surround the building as well as the design for the inside courtyards.


To this day, despite all current the goings-on about threats, it remains possible for members of the public to casually meander around the outside gardens. I recommend a visit and a walk around the perimeter gardens.



However, while you can have glimpses of the inner spaces, the Parliamentary courtyards are restricted to members of Parliament and their guests.

Once the job was done most of the international people returned to their homes overseas. It was a job well done!

The landscape architect soon realised that he had an opportunity to brag about his work.

Apparently he made sure he took with him a bundle of new five dollar Australian notes. At subsequent functions whenever he wanted to impress anyone, he would casually produce a crisp five dollar note.

He then drew attention to the design, and simply stated – “that’s my work”.


Now there’s a business card to be envied!

A great piece of branding.

A footnote: The Parliament House design team were very committed to using local talent and several people benefitted from this generous and intelligent employment strategy. One of the local landscape architects, who was very young at the time, remains in Canberra and is still working hard trying to bring about good design outcomes from within the ACT Government.


This is part of an occasional series, Canberra Tales, offering short stories, mostly true but including many urban myths, about intriguing aspects of Canberra. As with any story telling, we welcome other variations, accurate or otherwise, to these tales.

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