Sydney Architecture Images- Circular Quay and area

Government House Historic Houses Trust


Edward Blore and Mortimer Lewis


Royal Botanic Gardens




Old Colonial Gothick Picturesque




  Image from the book "Sydney in 1848"
To build a grand and worthy Government House was the dream of every notable Sydney architect, including Francis Greenway. However, when it was finally commissioned, the design came from the established English architect Edward Blore (1789-1879), as Governor Bourke felt that no colonial architect had sufficient experience to plan such a building.

Blore, working in the romantic Gothic style, produced a mock castle which matched the crenellations of the existing Greenway stables. The new building immediately became the talk of the town and helped establish the romantic Regency style in residential architecture which became popular in the colony over the next twenty years.

The large reception area is a richly decorated two-storey hall with a musicians gallery. Government House reputedly introduced the first modern water closet to Australia. The porte-cochere was added in 1873, and the two front rooms extended about 1900. Although there had been earlier proposals (c.1900) to move the vestigial Governor into more modest premises, it was not until 1996 that this finally occurred under the premiership of Robert Carr.

Information appearing in this section is reproduced from Sydney Architecture, with the kind permission of the author, Graham Jahn, a well-known Sydney architect and former City of Sydney Councillor. Sydney Architecture, rrp $35.00, is available from all good book stores or from the publisher, Watermark Press, Telephone: 02 9818 5677.

Open: Fri-Sun 10:00am-3:00pm, Thu: groups

The house is sited in an important historic garden overlooking Sydney Harbour. Viewing of the house is by guided tour only, with tours on the hour and half hour.

If you are in a group we advise that you book at tour.

Government House
Macquarie Street
Sydney, NSW 2000
t. 02 9931 5222
f. 02 9931 5208
e.  info[at]

Opening Hours
Grounds open daily from 10am to 4pm  
House open Friday to Sunday from 10am to 3pm by guided tour ONLY
Tours depart every half hour commencing at 10.30am the last tour departs at 3pm
Closed Christmas Day and Good Friday

The house is closed occasionally as it is used for Vice-Regal functions, these closures are advertised in The Sydney Morning Herald. If you are making a special trip to the city to go on a tour we advise that you contact Government House 02 9931 5222 to ensure that the house is open.

January opening hours: Guided tours: Friday 10.30am – 3pm, Saturday & Sunday 10.30am – 12pm | Free flow tours: Saturday & Sunday 1pm – 4pm | Grounds open daily 10am – 4pm

Admission: free


the flag of the Governor of New South Wales

The Governor of New South Wales is the representative in the Australian state of New South Wales of Australia's head of state, Elizabeth II, Queen of Australia. The Governor performs the same constitutional and ceremonial functions at the state level as does the Governor-General of Australia at the national level.

The office of Governor of New South Wales is the oldest constitutional office in Australia. Captain Arthur Phillip assumed office as Governor of New South Wales on 26 January 1788, the day on which he founded what is now the city of Sydney, the first British settlement in Australia.

In accordance with the conventions of the Westminster system of parliamentary government, the Governor nearly always acts solely on the advice of the head of the elected government, the Premier of New South Wales. Nevertheless, the Governor retains the reserve powers of the Crown, and has the right to dismiss the Premier. This power was last exercised in 1932, when Sir Philip Game dismissed Jack Lang.

Sydney Cove, with Government House and Fort Macquarie.

Description: The passengers and crew from the First Fleet settled along the coast at Sydney Cove in 1788. They had arrived at Botany Bay, but the area was deemed an unsuitable place for the establishment of the first prison colony in Australia. There were over 1,500 people, including 548 male and 188 female convicts. The recently constructed Government House and Fort Macquarie are visible in this painting. 
Creator: Westmacott and Spreat. 
Date: c. 1800 
Credit line: National Maritime Museum, London