Introduction to Government House
The original residence was built in 1870-1871 on a natural plateau overlooking Port Darwin. Locally quarried porcellanite stone was used in its construction, the lime for the mortar coming from coral, and the original roof being made of coated canvas.
The first Government Resident, Captain William Bloomfield Douglas, supervised the addition of a verandah roofed with bark and other rooms made of timber. The second Government Resident, Mr George Byng Scott, added a second storey to the Residence, but this was rendered unsafe by termites and was removed by his successor, Mr Edward William Price.
Extensive renovations conducted 1878-1879 by Government Secretary and architect, John George Knight, later to become the Government Resident 1890-1892, gave the building the shape it has today. Dr John Anderson Gilruth, upon his appointment as the first Administrator of the Northern Territory on 25 March 1912, changed the name from the 'Residence' to 'Government House'.
Government House, was entered on the Register of the National Estate in 1980 and was declared a Place of Heritage under the Heritage Conservation Act (Northern Territory) on 15 March 1996.
The Queen's Bedroom
The Queen's Bedroom is the main suite for distinguished guests at Government House and is named in honour of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II who stayed in this room in October 1982.
The Prince of Wales Room
His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales and Princess Diana stayed at Government House on 2 February 1988. The room was refurbished in 1998 and is now used as the main reception and sitting room for visitors and dignitaries.
The Drawing Room
The Drawing Room is the venue for small receptions, presentations and investitures. It is the central stone hall of the original Residence and is the oldest known European structure in Darwin.
The Dining Room
This room is used for formal luncheons and dinners. The Queensland red cedar sideboards, table and chairs were purchased by Mrs Hilda Abbott after World War II and, when fully extended, the table can seat up to twenty two guests.
The verandahs were originally open, but later enclosed with bamboo
slatting and shutters. The current louvres were installed prior
to World War II.
The grounds cover an area of 1.4 hectares. John George Knight was responsible for establishing a fine tropical grove with terraced walks in the grounds of the Residence in 1878-79. Knight's garden was re-established during the 1930s by Mrs Hilda Abbott. Government House received a Civic Commendation from the Darwin City Council in June 1982 for the care and attention shown to the gardens and grounds. In 1996, Government House was awarded the Keep Australia Beautiful Garden of the Year and Best Government Department or Statutory Authority Project.
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