Old Government House

On 26 January 1788 Governor Phillip landed at Farm Cove in Sydney to establish the colony of New South Wales. His crops of wheat and corn soon failed, having been planted in the heat of summer and in the sandy salty soil of the cove. In April of that same year Governor Phillip rowed up what is now the Parramatta River and selected this site for his farms and Government House. The soil was good and the hardy Australian Eucalypt trees grew naturally far enough apart so the First Fleeters did not have to cut too many trees down with their poor English axes. The oldest part of Old Government House still standing is Governor Hunter’s house which is the front of the two storied section in the middle part of the house.

When Governor Macquarie arrived in 1809 after the rum rebellion he found the house almost uninhabitable and carried out renovations and extensions which were completed in November 1816. The house as you see it today is largely as completed by Governor Macquarie. The restaurant located in the Garrison building was completed at the same time and housed the officers of the day. The Governor’s living quarters were located at the river end of the main house and the kitchen and servant areas at the opposite end. All the early governors lived and worked here including Phillip, Hunter, King, Bligh, Macquarie, Brisbane, Darling, Bourke, Gipps and Fitzroy. Fitzroy was the last governor to live here, leaving the colony in 1855.

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