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Melbourne Government House


Melbourne Government House

Government House, Melbourne is the office and official residence of the Governor of Victoria. It is found next to the Royal Botanic Gardens and bounded by King's Domain in Melbourne. It was the official residence of the Governor-General of Australia from 1901 to 1930.

The building was designed by William Wardell, Inspector General of the Public Works Department, and built in the Victorian Period. Lieutenant-governor of Victoria, Charles La Trobe set aside the land for Government House in 1841. Ferdinand von Mueller, Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens in 1857, landscaped the whole area, including Government House reserve, as one parkland. Construction of the building did not start until 1871 and was completed in 1876.

Between the formation of the Commonwealth of Australia in 1901 and 1927, it was the official residence of the Governor-General of Australia (the representative of the Crown in Australia). When the Federal Parliament commenced sitting in Canberra in 1927, the Governor-General stayed at Government House, Canberra at Yarralumla while Parliament was in session, but also continued living at Government House in Melbourne until 1930. The House has been in continuous use by the Governors of Victoria since 1934. This house is designed in Italianate style, and reflects the extravagant style of the period with a booming economy due to the Victorian gold rush.

The garden was designed by John Sayce in 1873 and is thought to be the most integral 19th century mansion garden remaining in Melbourne by the Victorian Heritage Register. William Guilfoyle, curator of the Melbourne Botanic Gardens, The main building consists of three parts: the south wing with its extravagant single storey State Ballroom; a grand staircase hall entrance to the three storey State rooms; and two storey vice-regal apartments to the north.

Rising from the building is a 145 foot belvedere tower. A paved area surrounded on three sides by stables, coach houses and staff living quarters is nearby is called The Mews. Further sophisticated the original garden design with many fine mature trees, including conifers, Australian rainforest species and deciduous trees, which are characteristic of the era and which also reflect Guilfoyle's personal taste.