The Old Government House is one of the most well-known buildings in Parramatta NSW 2150 and it has been on the site for over 200 years. It was built by Governor Lachlan Macquarie in 1816, who had just arrived from England. He wanted to create a grand residence that would be suitable for his status as governor. The house and gardens were designed around European tastes with Australian touches.
This building features a ballroom, which is one of the few buildings in Australia to have this feature. The reason for this is because Governor Macquarie had his wife with him when he left England and she was keen on having a ballroom available. It now functions as an exhibition space that displays artifacts from early Australian history such as Aboriginal paintings, pottery, textiles, and furniture.
The Old Government House also has special gardens that were designed by Mrs Elizabeth Macarthur who was married to John Macarthur – the first colonial wool pioneer. They are recognised internationally as being some of the finest examples of European garden design outside Europe – they include exotic flowers imported from around the world including China and India along with native ferns like those found in the Blue Mountains.
The grounds were also used as a school while it was still in use and this is now recognised with plaques that show what academic subjects, like maths or music, were taught here. There are also statues of Governor Macquarie and his wife on site along with other figures from early colonial history like John MacArthur Jr., son of John Macarthur – who grew up there.
This iconic piece of history is today a museum that is open to the public and welcomes visitors from all over the world. It is the perfect place to bring your kids to see what life was like back in the early days of Australia.
There are lots of attractions nearby, including the Parramatta River, which is perfect for a picnic on a sunny afternoon, Parramatta Park, which is a beautiful green space with plenty of walking and cycling trails, the Parramatta Botanic Gardens which are home to over 7000 species of plants, including rare specimens from overseas. There’s also Martyr’s Park which commemorates those who died during World War II while serving Australia; Queenwood School for Girls where you can visit the museum or take one of the school tours offered by staff members; St John’s Churchyard (where many important people from the history of Parramatta are buried); and so much more.