Government House is one of those well-known Sydney attractions that most locals are aware of, but few have visited.
This landmark is run by the Historic Houses Trust, and given that guided tours and entry to the grounds are free, isn't it time you finally had a look?
The history of Government House dates back to 1788, when Arthur Phillip pitched his canvas tent on foreign soil. A simple two-storeyed brick residence was quickly thrown up, which became home to the first nine governors of New South Wales. As it deteriorated and refurbishment became more and more difficult, Governor Bourke decided that a replacement was needed. Construction began in 1836, with the project being overseen by Edward Blore, the eminent English architect responsible for completing Buckingham Palace and restoring Windsor Castle. Not until 1845 was Governor Gipps able to move in.
Over the years, various alterations have been made to the building. But the greatest change came in 1996, when Premier Bob Carr announced that Peter Sinclair, the state's 35th governor, would be the last occupant of the gothic revival mansion, and that it would henceforth be thrown open to the public. Since then, it has remained unoccupied, although it is still used for vice-regal purposes.
Tours of Government House are conducted on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays (although occasional closures occur so that official functions can be held). They're a great way to learn about the cast of characters who passed through, the duties they performed, the estate's evolution and the purposes for which it is currently used. You'll be surprised by how much you didn't know – although delighted by how interesting all this new information is.
To find out what events and exhibitions are taking place,
click here. And to plan your visit, click here.