According to the brochure, Tasmanian Government House is regarded as one of the best vice-regal residences in the Commonwealth. One of. Couldn’t be too many better?
Tasmanian Government House Open Day
The Governor (His Excellency The Honourable Peter Underwood) and his wife (Mrs Frances Underwood) graciously allow visitors to their home once a year for Tasmanian Government House Open Day. Following a little prompt from Mrs Anne Parker (Official Secretary, Government House, Tasmania), we wanted to picnic on the lawns.
Our plan was to buy lunch at the Farmers Market in Hobart, spread our blanket and take in the magnificent views. Unfortunately, Hobart’s weather stood in the way of the outdoor lunch idea. But sometimes you just have to be persistent when you’re Tasmanian! Government House was worth the effort. There’s no doubt it is a breathtakingly gorgeous building.
Inside Government House Tasmania
We were a bit surprised to discover we were actually allowed inside. The poor carpet, with all those damp shoes tramping through! We were directed into the hallway by some very handsome policemen in full dress uniform, who commandeered all the umbrellas. Then we followed the roped-off path (guided by Government House staffers at every point) admiring the paintings, sculptures, grand piano & antiques.
The dining room, in regal red tones, was dressed for a formal dinner. Gold cutlery, crystal glasses, candles and flowers set a very festive scene. Bold patterns on the carpet vied for attention with the international arms painted on the ceiling; the chandeliers and the gold-edged wall mirrors.
Grand House Open Day
With 73 rooms in total, Tasmanian Government House is very grand. Some of those rooms, while being lavishly decorated, are less relevant today. The French Room, originally a boudoir for the ladies, is now referred to as a charming curiosity.
With sitting and drawing rooms designated for various constitutional and ceremonial purposes, the Governor’s residence seems to have all bases covered. We did overhear some children remarking: there’s a lot of chairs for just two people! Those same children thought the Underwood family were pretty lucky to have three tennis courts amongst the stables and cottages on the 15 hectare property.
At the end of our tour was the ballroom. Saving the best for last, the massive room has features including a Huon Pine floor, several exquisite chandeliers, a vaulted ceiling and some gigantic mirrors.
Amazing to think the residence has remained primarily as it was since it was first occupied in 1858 by Sir Henry Fox Young. Only the conservatory, which was once the formal balcony entrance to the ballroom, has been rebuilt using the original plans.
Tasmanian Government Ministers
Before collecting our umbrella and heading back out into the rain, we inspected the photos and memorabilia on show: Tasmanian Government House highlights and reminders of the duties undertaken by Governor Underwood and his predecessors. Photos of the current Premier, David Bartlett, and his Tasmanian Government ministers were combined with photos of school children, community groups and visiting dignitaries.
Directing pedestrians opposite Tasmania’s Botanical Gardens on the Queens Domain, Hobart was one of the Government House gardeners. As one of five full-time gardeners employed to take care of the grounds, she agreed it was a substantial (but fantastic) job. The 4.5 hectares of established gardens include ornamental ponds and trees planted by royalty and heads of state. And a vegetable patch!
Tasmanian Government House Open Day is held annually during November.
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