Old Government House Brisbane

Old Government House was the hub of colonial life in the early days of Brisbane. Constructed between 1860 and 1862, shortly after Queensland achieved separation from New South Wales, the House was Queensland’s first public building. A rare surviving example of the domestic work of Queensland’s first Colonial Architect Charles Tiffin, the House was both a private residence and official state office for Governor Bowen, the colony’s first governor, and continued to be the home of Queensland’s governors until 1910.

IMG_4688The elegant interior
The House was built by Joshua Jeays, who punted the huge loads of sandstone used for its construction down the Brisbane River from his Goodna quarry. Jeays was also an alderman in the first Brisbane Municipal Council and later served as mayor. The House was completed in May 1862 at a total cost of £17,000, and was praised as a ‘structure… highly creditable to the colony’.
Eleven governors and their families lived in the House over a period of almost fifty years.he House and its gardens saw some of Brisbane’s most magnificent social events with countless balls, receptions, dinners and garden parties taking place. But as Queensland’s population grew, it became increasingly apparent that the House was simply too small to accommodate the extensive hospitalities demanded of it. In 1909 the controversial decision was made to move the governor out and a chapter in the life of the House came to a close.
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 Paintings in the Williams Robinson  Gallery
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Entry into the museum is free and you can wander around for as long as you wish. There are some wonderful interactive exhibits at Old Government House, led by the “ghost of Governor Musgrave“..

http://www.ogh.qut.edu.au/visiting/house-museum/podcasts.jsp

IMG_4694The Governor’s library
There is also a stunning William Robinson art exhibition on level two, which is well worth spending extra time to see.
William Robinson painting

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There is a wonderful eatery called The Pantry Cafe located within the Old Government House kitchens (incidentally, where lamingtons themselves were invented). They serve breakfast, brunch and lunch refreshments and you can sit and eat in the Governor’s shady inner courtyard where the carriages were kept.

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Courtyard cafe

Old Government House is listed with the National Trust and QUT undertake ongoing restorations to maintain the historically significant building. Old Government House successively became the University of Queensland’s inaugural building (1910-1972) and the headquarters of the National Trust of Queensland (1972-2002). As one of Queensland’s most significant historical buildings, it was the first building in the state to be heritage listed in 1978. In 2002, the Queensland University of Technology accepted custodial responsibility for the House and undertook a lengthy restoration project. This included the delivery of an interpretative multimedia centre to highlight the cultural and historical significance of each part of this landmark colonial building.

IMG_4680Old Government in the beginning…photographed from the interactive Map

More than simply serving as a vice-regal residence, Old Government House played an important symbolic role in the early years of the colony. Its grand design and location high on the promontory at Gardens Point made it an impressive sight for visitors and immigrants arriving by ship: as they circled the point, it came into view as a stately palace against the backdrop of Brisbane’s ramshackle wooden huts scattered throughout the bush. It was a bold exemplar of the colony’s potential prosperity

IMG_4700Old Government House was reopened to the public in June 2009 as an historic house museum, a gallery housing the works of renowned Australian artist William Robinson and an elegant venue available to hire for private functions. Located centrally in Brisbane adjacent to the City Botanic Gardens, the House stands with renewed grandeur within the Gardens Point Campus of QUT.
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