Sydney Architecture Images- Western Suburbs

Old Government House


James Bloodsworth
John Watts, Francis Greenway and Walter Liberty Vernon  


 O’Connell St  Parramatta Park, Parramatta, NSW 2150


1799, John Watts 1815


Old Colonial Georgian




This building, built c1799 and enlarged 1815 to a design by Lieutenant John Watts, was associated with the administration of the colony from its early days until superseded by the 1845 Government House on the shores of Sydney Harbour. 
It has now been suitably restored and seems to illustrate the best of elegant colonial Georgian architecture of the period. Used by the King's School 1910-70. (Australian Heritage Commission).

A Parramatta Properties Committee was established to advise and guide works, dating (at least) from 1968, and chaired from 1971-2 by Dame Helen Blaxland. This committee was disbanded in 1984. 

1967 the National Trust reconstituted the Lindesay Garden Group as the National Trust Garden Committee, with Diana Pockley as chair. This Committee's work was broader, including work on replanting the grounds of Experiment Farm cottage, Parramatta, Old Government House, Parramatta and Riversdale, Goulburn. 
(Simpson, C., 2003)

Old Government House

Standing in 260 acres of parkland overlooking historic Parramatta, Old Government House is Australia’s oldest public building. For seven decades, it was the ‘country’ residence of 12 early governors of the colony, including Governor and Mrs Macquarie who, from 1810 to 1821 preferred the clean air and space of rural Parramatta to the unsanitary and crime ridden streets of Sydney Town.

The central block of the house was built in 1799 by Governor John Hunter, however the appearance of the house today owes most to Governor and Mrs Macquarie. Their 1815 extensions, designed by Macquarie’s Aide, Lieutenant John Watts transformed the house into an elegant Palladian style residence in the English manner. Visitors to the property today can step straight into the fashions of 1821, with their Anglo and Indian influences and strong emphasis on colour, through a meticulously researched ‘soft furnishings’ program. This has transformed main rooms of the house to recreate the tastes and styles of Mrs Macquarie, influenced as they were by distance and a climate very different to ‘home’. Rooms are furnished with pieces from the National Trust’s collection of early colonial furniture; the largest collection in Australia.

Old Government House was built on Darug land, home to the Burramatta tribe. There is evidence of their occupation on the site; the firestick management of land and trees which still bear the scars of bark stripped to build canoes. In Old Government House, you can see how shells from Aboriginal middens were used to strengthen household mortar.


Ghost tours, run on the third Friday each month (evening). Talks and seminars, concerts and an annual ball.

The atmosphere of the propertyand its history as explained through tours gives a clear picture of life in the early colony; the household, the business of governing, controlling the army, the place of convicts and the conflict with Aboriginal people. This is the only known example of a faithfully recreated household of this size and era to be found in Australia.


Lachlan’s Restaurant & Café; everything from a peaceful lunch to grand weddings. National Trust Gift Shop, ample parking, spacious grounds for picnics.

A range of education and school holiday programs are available.


Take the train from Sydney’s Central Station (approx 30 minute journey) to Parramatta Station – or catch the River Cat from Sydney’s Circular Quay (approx 1 hour journey). 15 minute walk to Old Government House, along Argyll Street , into Pitt Street and follow signs to Parramatta Park . Or drive and park in the grounds.


Parramatta Park , Parramatta
Phone (02) 9635 8149 
Fax (02) 9891 4102 


Open: Monday-Friday, from 10am to 4pm 

Entry fees: National Trust members free Adults $8, conc $5, families $18 


Special thanks to