Australia's Parliament House turns 30 this year, so we're taking a look behind the scenes...

Parliament House Canberra

PICTURE: Thennicke (licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0)

• The official birthday of Parliament House is 9th May - it was officially declared open on that day in 1988 by Queen Elizabeth II. Bob Hawke was Prime Minister at the time. Since it was opened, the building has seen 11 Parliaments, seven Prime Ministers and three changes of government.

• The building is the first permanent Parliament House since Federation in 1901. The former (now Old) Parliament House was officially known as the Provisional Parliament House - designed to be used for 50 years - and was opened by King George VI and Queen Elizabeth in 1927. The first building to house the Australian Parliament was the State Parliament House in Melbourne (until 1927).

• It sits atop Capital Hill and was positioned to overlook Old Parliament House (various proposals to demolish Old Parliament House to provide an interrupted vista across Lake Burley Griffin to the Australian War Memorial have so far been dismissed.)

• The building cost more than $1.1 billion to build and took seven years to construct largely using Australian materials, among them granite from New South Wales and South Australia,  and Australian timbers including coachwood, jarrah, blackbutt, brush box, white birch, turpentine, silver ash and grey box. Construction only formally ended in April, 1989, when the Formal Gardens were completed.

• The winning design, by New York-based Mitchell/Giurgola & Thorp Architects (Romaldo Giurgola being the principal architect), was chosen from more than 320 entries to what was an international competition. Its shape, which nestles into the hillside and features lawn on top, is said to reference two joined boomerangs. It has been designed to be used for at least 200 years.

• The site covers some 32 hectares and as well as the Parliament House building includes the Great Verandah - the main public entrance - and Forecourt which features a 196 square metre mosaic designed by Aboriginal artist Michael Nelson Jagamara. The building features 17 courtyards.

• Parliament House first hosted the Commonwealth Parliament on 22nd August, 1988.

• One of the largest buildings in the Southern Hemisphere, 300 metre by 300 metre building contains some 4,700 rooms including the Great Hall (dominated by the Great Hall Tapestry, designed by Australian artist Arthur Boyd in partnership with the Victorian Tapestry Workshop), Member's Hall, House of Representatives chamber (green) and Senate chamber (red) as well as committee rooms and offices for the Prime Minister and MPs.

• More than 5,000 people work in the building when Parliament is sitting.

• The flagpole which tops the Parliament House (marking the exact centre of the building) stands 81 metres high, weighs 250 tonnes and is made of polished stainless steel from Wollongong (its one of the largest stainless steel structures in the world). The flag which flies from it is 12.8 by 6.4 metres - about the size of the side of a double-decker bus.

Sources: The 30th anniversary of Australia’s Parliament House - Dr Joy McCann Politics and Public Administration Section with Dr Dianne Heriot, Parliamentary Librarian, Parliament of Australia website, Parliamentary Education Office