Last month I visited Government House, Sydney; just a casual tourist and all out history nerd visiting Sydney’s CBD. Needless to say its location is idyllic – even in the 35+ degree heat we experienced in Sydney that day! Set in the far corner of the Botanic Gardens, it is only a hop skip and a jump from the Opera House, the Conservatorium of Music, and has views over the harbour. Even better, as far as I was concerned, is it’s beautiful Gothic Revival architecture.
5 Things I Learnt about Government House, Sydney:
- NSW still has a Governor. Perhaps I should have known this already, but there you go! Since 1901 and Federation, Australia has had a Governor General who acts as the Queen of England’s representative in national matters. But ever since 1786 with Captain Arthur Philip, NSW has also had a Governor who is the Queen’s representative in all State matters. Government House is the Governor’s home and office rolled into one.
- Old Government House in Parramatta was the Governor’s country retreat.
- The current Government House was built in the Gothic Revival style in 1845 with later additions. It was designed by a British Architect who had never been to Australia and so designed it in a way that didn’t take advantage of the fantastic harbour views at its location – an Australian architect then adjusted the plans for the site.
- The State rooms have a variety of symbols integrated into the decoration. They tell you a lot about the purpose of the room. Join a tour and see if you can spot them! i.e. The Red Rose is England’s national flower – you will find it in painted form in one of the rooms. Know of NSW’s state flower? Look out for that one too!
- There is a building near to Government House that once was part of the estate. It served a very important function facilitating the Governor’s ability travel in the 19th and early 20th century. Can you guess which building and what it was originally used for?
I’ve attempted to be a little circumspect in which facts I’ve included above; I certainly wouldn’t want to steal the thunder of the fantastic tour guides at Government House! Also, I would really encourage you to go on a tour there so that you can discover the past for yourself.
If you are interested in Australian history and the history of NSW specifically, if you love historic buildings, or if you fancy an interesting day out in a beautiful location; I highly recommend a visit to Government House, Sydney!