frequently asked questions

When do the bells play?

Generally, the Bells play daily:
8am – 9am
12.30pm – 1.30pm
5pm – 6pm

However, check the calendar for the most up-to-date details.

How does it play by itself?

The bells are controlled by a computer located on-site. Musical compositions composed via this website are coded in MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface). Each composition is a computer file that is scheduled to play at an allocated time.The MIDI data is converted into a series of electronic pulses that are delivered to each of the 39 bells. Within each bell is a solenoid that triggers a hammer to strike the inside of the bell.

Are there any others like this?

There are many sets of bells throughout the world. Typically called carillons these sets of bells are played by a single player via a keyboard. However, the Federation Bells are unique as a set of public bells that are played via a computer. The Federation Bells can also be played via a smart phone or tablet (from 2015), or by plugging in a MIDI keyboard.

Can I (or my friend) write music for the Federation Bells?

Yes, this is the specific purpose of this website. The Federation Bells app also allows you to record small pieces for the bells. See Composing for the Bells.

Can I use the Federation Bells as a backdrop for my wedding?

Please complete a Parks Event permit and specify that you would like to use the Federation Bells area and describe if you have any musical requirements. A charge may apply.

Can I use them for another event?

If you have a particular idea for the use of the Federation Bells, please contact the City of Melbourne Curator by sending an e-mail to

Are there sets of bells that you can use elsewhere?

Yes! Museum Victoria lend sets of hand bells (equivalent to the top two octaves of the installation in Birrarung Marr) for a nominal fee. These bells are part of the Federation Bells project that celebrated the centenary of Australia’s federation.