NSW Government House, Australia

 

South of architectural great Sydney Opera House, overlooking spectacular Sydney Harbour, lies historic Government House. A prime example of Gothic Revival architecture, the Government House was and still is the prime seat of the Governor of New South Wales. The Government House is also used as the residence of Her Majesty the Queen of Great Britain and other British Royals whenever they come to visit Sydney. Visiting Heads of State from other countries also make their home here whenever they are in the area.

In January 1788, Captain Arthur Phillip brought a canvas house from England and made it the first Government House in New South Wales.

In 1789, a 2-storey brick and stone building was built and used by the first nine governors of New South Wales (from Phillip to Gipps).

But this one was always in poor condition and was demolished in 1846. Between 1837-1845 the now existing government House was designed by Edward Blore and Mortimer Lewis. In 1996 the Government House became open to the public and admission is free.

NSW Government House, Australia

 

As with the White House in the United States, the Government House has undergone changes in accordance with the changing trends and tastes of the governors and their wives. The dining room, drawing room, and ballroom contain prime examples of 19th and 20th century furnishing.

In 1996, the Government House has ceased to be the residence of the governor but is still maintained as his official reception venue. The governor’s day office is now located at 121 Macquarie Street near the Chief Secretary’s office building.

A guided tour of Government House:

  • The Outer Hall – The entrance to the house. It provides protection for visitors entering and leaving the house by providing shelter big enough to cover carriages and eventually, cars.

  • The Inner Hall – Contains 20th century portraits of previous governors by renowned artists William Dobell and William Dargie. Also displays the large cedar case clock by Angelo Tornaghi.

  • The Main Hall – The central area of the house that divides the public state rooms from the other rooms.

  • The Study – Now used as the Billiard Room, it contains Aboriginal works that had been donated or purchased.

  • The Dining Room – Only VIPs and Royals were invited to dine with the governor. A variety of dining services are displayed in this room.

  • The Ante Room – The most intimate area of the state rooms, it contains several noteworthy art collections and furnishings.

  • The Drawing Room – Decorated in an easterly fashion, this room displays 19th century elegance and lightheartedness.

  • The Ballroom – This room is the largest reception venue and is used mainly for very formal ceremonies and events.

The Government House is a time capsule of Sydney’s political history and is a treasured part of Australia’s heritage.