Pets of Government House
While at first thought pets may not be ideally suited to the hectic pace of vice-regal life or to the fine furnishings of a heritage-listed estate, there is a proud tradition of canine residents at Government House in Queensland long before the appointment in February this year of Gavel Vice-Regal Dog!
The records of Old Government House reveal that each of the 11 governors who lived at Gardens Point had at least one pet — and Lord Lamington’s menagerie included (as well as a kangaroo and a cassowary!) an Irish terrier called Torrocks, a chow named Ting Gow, and Bousquir, a Scottish terrier. Queensland's second Governor Sir Samuel Blackall's pooch was named Soda.
Image: Dogs of Old Government House - courtesy of Old Government House and the State Library of Queensland.
The fondness for Scotties continued at Fernberg under Sir John and Lady Lavarack, with their much-loved Monty being buried in a shaded spot on the estate. A plaque records that the six-year-old went ‘to the Happy Hunting Grounds’ on 1 November, 1953.
In 1960, another garden plot was assigned to Bengie, the faithful friend and companion of Sir Henry and Lady Abel-Smith.
Image: Sir John And Lady Lavarack walk Monty around the Government House estate - courtesy of the State Library of Queensland.
And Gavel isn’t the first of his breed to call Fernberg home; Ms Leneen Forde’s dog George was also a German shepherd.
While no residents of Fernberg were able to match the Lamingtons in their exotic selection of resident pets, the Lavaracks were instrumental in arranging for the noted naturalist, David Fleay, to bring two very special Australian animals to the house in 1954 for the interest of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II during her stay. For the Royal audience, Penny the Platypus and Winkie the Wombat travelled to Fernberg where Penny was placed in a white enamel bathtub, surrounded by potted greenery, on the eastern balcony.