Australia Day is, controversially, celebrated on the day the First Fleet arrived on its shores. It is also one of the only days Government House is open to the public. We took our chance and headed down first thing, with hundreds of others, to celebrate our temporary home country!
Government House is located directly next to the Royal Botanic Gardens and is itself surrounded by amazing landscaping. The Governor is the representative of the monarch and is chosen, not elected; they take on more of the Head of State roles, while the premier is the Head of Government.
The house dates to the late 1800’s, like most old buildings in Melbourne. It is absolutely gorgeous inside with tall ceilings, luxurious furniture, gold/gilt everywhere, and a pianist hired to serenade guests as they strolled by.
The best room was saved for last–the ballroom. Taking up a whole wing of the house and supposedly, the largest ballroom in the Commonwealth (even bigger than Buckingham Palace), the ballroom is the showpiece of the house. The colors were so vibrant and gold touches made the room shine, especially on the musician’s box high up on the back wall. How does it compare to the New South Wales Government House ballroom…? This is a ballroom.
And the Lego version of Government House on Open Day centered in the middle of the room was a nice touch too.
The grounds of Government House were also open, including the garage, which held Victoria’s state stage coach, and the stables, where former prize-winning racehorses were on display. Croquet, cricket, and tennis were all being played on various lawns by children and adults alike. The Country Women’s Association sold tea and scones near the old kitchen/servants area–very British–and wandering entertainment, like these 2 women on stilts dressed like flamingos, was everywhere.
The governor, Linda Dessau, was there greeting people, but we didn’t see her.
At noon, there was a 21-gun salute at the Shrine of Remembrance followed by an air show by the Air Force Roulettes. For 15 minutes, the planes looped around the Governor’s House, the Shrine of Remembrance, and the southern edge of the CBD flying in various wing-to-wing formations and even upside down at times.
And finally we finished the day out by heading over to King’s Domain for the Australia Day 2017 Festival with lots of fun activities, displays, food, and performances. Some of which included an old-fashioned music box car with cardboard punched cards, vintage cars, and panning for gold!