Government House is the official residence of the Governor of New South Wales. It was built between 1837 and 1845, in the green domain of the Royal Botanic Garden. It was designed by Edward Blore (1787-1879), the architect who redesigned Buckingham Palace for Queen Victoria. It is a Gothic-style building, looking like a small castle. It overlooks Sydney Harbour (just south of the Sydney Opera House) and was first occupied by Sir George Gipps (1790-1847), 9th Governor of New South Wales. Between 1901 and 1914, and the property was leased to the Commonwealth of Australia as the residence of the Governor-General of Australia, and there was another phase between 1996 and 2011 when it was decided that the Governor did not need an official residence.
The house contains a magnificent ballroom with a minstrel’s gallery and is adorned with vice-regal furniture, portraits and ornaments acquired by Governors over the years. The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh attended a ball and a garden party here on their visit in February 1954.
There was an earlier Government House at Parramatta, which was built in 1788 and used for about 50 years, but it no longer survives. A second Government House was constructed between 1799 and 1820, again at Parramatta. It was badly damaged by lightning.
Government House is open to the public three days a week, Friday – Sunday and tours are free. During the tour, it is possible to explore the gardens and the main ground floor rooms such as the Governor’s office and the dining room and other rooms used for public events including the ballroom.
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