Friday, August 21, 2009

Old Government House

When the fledgling State of Queensland came into being in 1859, the need arose for a Governor's residence, and they started building one straight away at the southern end of George St. It was designed by Charles Tiffin and built by Joshua Jeays at a cost of £17,000. The completed building's first resident was the state's first Governor, George Bowen, who moved into the building in 1862. Our old photograph today, from 1897, shows then Governor Baron Lamington and the official party leaving Government House for the opening of Parliament. This may have been one of the first ever Lamington drives! :-)

(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #171777)

The building continued to be used as the Governor's residence until it was absorbed into the new University of Queensland in 1910. The incumbent at that time, Governor MacGregor, was relocated to a leased residence, Fernberg, at Paddington - more on Fernberg in a future blog-post. Later, the University of Queensand relocated to St Lucia, and another campus, that of the Queensland University of Technology grew in its place. The National Trust gradually assumed the control of the building. Recently, the building has undergone a refurbishment, and has just been reopened to the public. This is the way it looks now, front and back.

(Photos: © 2009 the foto fanatic)

And, if that's not enough history for you, then there is a claim that the first ever lamingtons were made right here when Governor Lamington had unexpected guests and the chef recycled some old sponge cake by tarting it up with chocolate and coconut. My friend, author and food historian Janet Clarkson (check out her wonderful food blog The Old Foodie), thinks that the claim is dubious. Like many food stories and recipes, Janet says, the actual origin may never be known and probably stems from several sources anyway. Read her take on lamingtons (and get yourself a recipe!) here.

Click here for a Google Map.


Next: Fortifications


  1. I am delighted you unearthed the Lamington photo from the archives - it has more royal performance than Queen Victoria :)

    I created a link to your post
    Art and Architecture, mainly


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