The blossoms trees are fit to burst in the drive up Canberra Avenue. The buses are unloading school kids in the underground car park. The lines to get through security are long. Visitors mingle in the Marble Foyer. In the Queen Terrace Cafe, there is a hubbub of important talk - or gossip. It's spring at Parliament House and the place is buzzing.
Politicians have returned to Canberra this week after the winter break, de-thawed and ready for business. Or, at least, that's the vibe.
And the punters have not been forgotten. The People's House is hosting some special events for spring, including a behind-the-scenes guided tour of the private gardens in spring and a high tea under the Parly blossoms, complete with live music and sparkling wine. Both events are in early October, with the chance to do the garden tour and spring tea as a combined outing.
Parliament House executive chef David Learmonth and his staff have created an exquisite array of treats for the high tea, with Parliamentary Services acting deputy secretary Cate Saunders happy to more than vouch for its delectability.
"It really is extraordinary," she said. "I went last year and took some friends, and they're very well-travelled friends, and they've had high tea in the loveliest restaurants around the world and they said this was the best high tea that they've had."
Mr Learmonth said the high tea was all made on site and from local and regional produce, right down to the marmalade and the honeycomb, which was fashioned from Parliament House's own bee hives. There is also everything from lamb mignon to trout sandwiches to a play on a Twix chocolate with gold leaf and APH chocolate plaque. Hazelnuts from Bredbo were crushed into the scones.
"All my chefs contribute to this and we're really proud," he said.
Mr Learmonth said it was fun to create a fresh high tea, which changed with the seasons at the Queen Terrace Cafe. The spring high teas were special because of their location in the private courtyards.
"We've done a lot of high teas. We're quite popular with them. This will be my third down in the courtyards. Really good atmosphere, really good place to be, with the gardens and the music," he said.
"A good high tea for me is that real nice balance of sweet and savoury and sort of showcasing what we do and how we do it."
Ms Saunders she would be back for the high tea, with her daughter Holly, 16. She said visitors to Floriade could also add it to their visit.
"Members of the public don't usually get to have this behind-the-scenes experience and it helps make them feel that much more connected to Parliament House. It is their house," she said.
"This is one of our signature events and we'll continue to do it every spring."
Ms Saunders said spring did signal a fresh start at Parliament - and a chance for everyone to see it in a new light.
"People have returned from the winter break and you can feel that renewed sense of energy and motivation to get things done," she said.
"And on beautiful days like today, with clear blue skies, it just puts a spring in everyone's step.
"With the elevation we have at Parliament House, there are these beautiful views and the air just seems so clean. And then the gardens are spectacular. They're really starting to come alive again and the gardeners are out busy doing their spring plantings."
- The Parliament House spring courtyards tours are on October 5, 6, and 7 while the high tea in the courtyards is on October 5 and 6, with the opportunity to combine the tour with the high tea. Bookings can be made at https://www.aph.gov.au/spring#springtea