National Carillon


The National Carillon is a fully functional bell tower on Aspen Island, Lake Burlery Griffin.

The Carillon was a gift from the British government to the people of Australia to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the National Capital, Canberra. Queen Elizabeth II officially opened the National Carillon on 26th April 1970.

The 50 metre tall National Carillon tower underwent refurbishment including renovations of interior function facilities and the addition of two extra bells in 2004. The Carillon is in regular use, chiming every quarter hour and playing a short tune on the hour. It is played on a regular basis during the year by both local and visiting carillonists.

The Carillon is often used to celebrate national days and is played in conjunction with other events such as Australia Day (26th January). All styles of music are represented, from compositions specially written for the Carillon to popular song arrangements and improvisation. The best place to listen to the Carillon is suggested to be within 100 metres of the building, though the sound can usually be heard much further away in the Parliamentary Triangle, Kingston and Civic.

Location: Aspen Island, Lake Burley Griffin. How to get there: from Canberra City, exit London Circuit into Constitution Ave., turn right into Wendouree Dr.

About the building
Part of the strong symmetrical planning of the Parliamentary Triangle, the carillon is an example of the late twentieth century Brutalist style. It uses strong shapes, diagonal roof lines, large areas of blank walls and vertical windows. The Carillon and the Captain Cook Memorial Jet mark the radiating boundaries of the Parliamentary Triangle.

The carillon was a gift from the British government to the people of Australia to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the National Capital, Canberra. Queen Elizabeth II officially opened the National Carillon on 26th April 1970. The 50 metre tall tower was designed by Western Australian architects Cameron, Chisholm & Nicol.

The construction is reinforced concrete slabs in a distinctive white shade, set on a level floor consisting of large hexagonal tines. The tower is triangular with three large triangular supports, and has a service lift in the western leg and a passenger lift in the southern leg. Each of the three supports also includes an emergency staircase.

The raised level of the carillon has three levels: the clavier level consisting of the clavier proper, a practice clavier, a shower and a dressing room for recitals; a level consisting of the bells; and a level consisting of a function and observation room.