Whitlam came into office four days a week until recently

A COURAGEOUS and resilient leader, Gough Whitlam worked tirelessly to make the Labor Party a viable alternative government, one of the party's elders told the caucus meeting in Canberra on Tuesday.

Senior party figure Senator John Faulkner fondly told the caucus room of how the pair, when Mr Faulkner was in Sydney, would often have a cup of tea or "glass of Passiona".

"Gough and I were close for more years than I care to remember," Mr Faulkner said.

"He came into his office four days a week until the last week or two of his life."

Mr Faulkner said he would "never forget" the excitement an enthusiasm of the 1972 election, in which Whitlam led the Labor Party to its first victory in 23 years.

He said the campaign slogan, "It's time", became "part of our language".

"He was a visionary and of course in this caucus we will remember with very great gratitude his service," Mr Faulkner said.

"He was a great parliamentarian, he was a great leader, he was a great Australian and for so many of us, and it's what makes it so hard today, he was a great friend and mentor."