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A-Z Guidebook: Old Government House, Brisbane

Welcome to the A-Z Guidebook Link Up. If you would like to join, read the A-Z Guidebook tab at the top of the blog and write a travel post relating to the letter of the month.

* Remember, if you don’t have a location that starts with the letter, you can select the alternate theme. This month:

G or Giving

I have lived in Brisbane nearly all of my life and I can honestly say that until I did some volunteer work at the Women of the World Festival, I had no idea that Old Government House even existed. I recall school excursions to the old Qld Museum (where they kept lung fish in tanks on the open verandahs), a sugarcane farm, the Golden Circle Pineapple Factory and a trip to the Kingston Butter Factory but I don’t recall visiting any of the buildings of Queensland’s colonial past.

Beautiful sandstoen Old Government House in the grounds of QUT, Brisbane

Old Government House is a glorious sandstone structure that was built in the 1860’s to house the first Governor of Queensland, Sir George Bowen. It has two distinctly different facades, the front built to be ‘plain’ so as not to appear ostentatious to the public. This photo is of the rear but the front is just as striking. These days both facades appear very grand to our 21st century sensibilities. The rooms contain beautiful red cedar and hoop pine with a sweeping staircase to the second floor, now the William Robinson Gallery, showcasing the work of this renowned Qld artist.

A series of Governors lived in the building before the new Governor’s residence moved to Fernberg in Paddington. Qld Uni used the building from the early 1900s before they grew out of the campus, moving out to St Lucia to build their stately sandstone university. Old Government House is the Qld headquarters for the National Trust of Australia and is listed as a heritage building.

These days, Old Government House is smack bang in the middle of Qld University of Technology’s Gardens Point Campus. Students recline on the lawns or rush past on their way to lectures. In my photo, you can see a student relaxing on the steps, reading. QUT has custodianship of the building for the people of Queensland and is responsible for maintaining it. And what a job they’ve done! Restored in 2009, it’s open to the general public six days a week (closed Saturdays). Both the House, its museum and the William Robinson Gallery are free, as are the podcast and guided tours. There’s also an excellent cafe in the courtyard which was once the ‘back of house’ servant’s area. This is a lovely way to spend a few hours, stepping back in time to learn something about Brisbane’s past and a respite from the hustle and bustle of the CBD.

Fun Fact: the architect of this lovely classical revival building was Charles Tiffin. Yes, we get around.

Old Government House
QUT Gardens Point
Brisbane City

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12 comments… add one
  • The Hipsterette December 15, 2015, 7:31 am

    I love the A to Z Guidebook idea. I studied at QUT (Garden’s Point campus) so used to walk past Old Government House regularly, and it’s good to know it’s history!

    • Fiona Ryan December 16, 2015, 11:42 am

      Hello Inese – you’re the second person to comment on the QUT connection. A grand old building is certainly the last thing on your mind when you are studying!

  • Maureen | Orgasmic Chef December 15, 2015, 10:30 am

    Who knew? It’s steeped in history, beautiful and I’m dying to visit. You really get around, Fiona. 🙂

    • Fiona Ryan December 16, 2015, 8:17 am

      It’s such an accessible building and right in the heart of things. Make sure you visit next time you come to Brisbane.

  • sherry from sherrys pickings December 15, 2015, 11:25 am

    ha ha:) a close relative obviously Ms Tiffin. i studied at QUT some time ago, and also worked in the main library so i used to pass by this building every day. it is lovely, and the interior is wonderful too. I have been there a couple of times lately to visit the william robinson gallery inside it, which is a must if you are a fan of his work which I am.

    • Fiona Ryan December 16, 2015, 8:18 am

      So many great buildings in Brisbane that many people know very little about. A great jaunt combined with a visit to The Gardens and a walk across The Goodwill Bridge.

  • Tandy | Lavender and Lime December 16, 2015, 3:16 pm

    What an interestingly historical building 🙂

    • Fiona Ryan December 18, 2015, 9:21 am

      Worth poking your head into if you’re ever in town Tandy.

  • retrostuart December 18, 2015, 9:07 am

    A great invitation to visit an interesting site, one I’ll take up on my next visit to Brisbane. It’s always good to value something in your own backyard.

    • Fiona Ryan December 18, 2015, 9:20 am

      It’s a winner. You have have a great day visiting that end of town as there are also the old City (Botanic) Gardens, Parliament House and then you can walk across the Goodwill Bridge to South Bank.

  • Emily (Cooking for Kishore) December 19, 2015, 9:40 am

    Lovely historical building, would love to see the inside! Thanks for sharing! 🙂

    • Fiona Ryan December 28, 2015, 2:48 pm

      I absolutely love sandstone and it’s quite a feature of historic buildings in Australia. I love it so much that we opted for a new courtyard in local Qld sandstone rather than the cheaper imports. Can’t wait to see it finally laid and completed.

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