The most sophisticated example of a Gothic Revival building in New South Wales, Government House has been home to over 27 Governors over the years, and marks a huge difference to the canvas tent that the very first Governor had to pitch in 1788. While Government House today is home to the current Governor of New South Wales, it is also a living museum, meaning that parts of this historic building are open for the public to tour and explore.
Getting to Government House
Located alongside the Royal Botanic Gardens, Government House is best accessed from the Botanic Gardens themselves, or from Macquarie Street. There are many public transportation options available too, and Government House is just a five minute stroll from these, but if you are already in the area, it is easy enough to get to Government House on foot.
The public tours are the only way to explore the interior of Government House, and since this is a living museum, only certain areas of the building are open to the public tour. The tours are available on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, between 10:30am and 3pm, and last for 45 minutes each. If you would simply like to explore the gardens around the grounds instead, these are open every day and do not require a guide.
The state rooms on the ground floor of Government House are definitely one of the highlights of the tour. These lavishly decorated rooms feature an incredible collection of historic artwork and furnishings, including opulent Vice Regal furniture, from the 19th and 20th century, all of which would be right at home in a world-class museum. When it comes to the exterior of Government House, the Eastern Terrace is a beautiful sight to see, with stunning views over Sydney Harbour. This spot has been used to entertain important visitors, such as members of the British Royal Family, since it was created in 1862. While the Eastern Terrace has experienced substantial wear and tear, as well as other bits of damage, over the years, there are conservation projects in place that will help to keep it as the centrepiece of Government House.
Shops and Cafés
There is only a small on-site shop at Government House, but you will be able to find everything from guidebooks to souvenir postcards here, although this is only open at the same time as the public tours are available on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. While there may not be a café within the grounds of Government House, there are several to be found just a few minutes walk away, with the nearest being located at the Botanic Gardens, as well as the Conservatorium of Music.
Sydney’s Government House has been a significant part of the city’s history and the public tours that are offered here are well worth taking. From the historic artwork that lines the grand state rooms, to the spectacular views to be had from the gardens, a tour of Government House will not only be educational, but also extremely memorable.