History of Fernberg

Queensland’s Government House, also known as Fernberg (German for distant mountain) is a working vice-regal residence - a unique combination of private residence, busy office, public symbol of the State’s prestige, guardian of important traditions, and proud protector of the State’s history and heritage. The property has changed hands multiple times during its lifetime, but has been the official residence and workplace of Queensland Governors for more than a century.


Milestones in Fernberg’s history


Johann Heussler, a wealthy Brisbane merchant purchases 22 acres of land from the Government and makes plans to build a house there.


Local architect Benjamin Backhouse designs a house for Johann Heussler constructed from stone excavated onsite combined with a cement and lime mixture.


The Heussler family lives at Fernberg until 1872 when the high cost of upkeep forces foreclosure on the property by the mortgagee.


Sir Arthur Palmer, Premier of Queensland (1870-1874), and later Lieutenant Governor resides in Fernberg.


N. S. Cohen, Manager for Elliott Brothers, occupies Fernberg, followed by Mr Stennett of Stennett’s Corner.


John Stevenson MP purchases Fernberg and commissions the addition of a fine frontage to the building and considerably extends the grounds by purchasing adjacent land. He also installs the stained glass window depicting Robert the Bruce, King of Scotland (1306-1329) on the main internal stairway of the house.


The title to Fernberg is transferred to Stevenson’s mortgagees, two directors of the Mount Morgan gold mine in Central Queensland—William Pattison and Walter Hall.


Upon Pattison’s death, Hall becomes the sole owner of Fernberg. He does not appear to live in the house, and Stevenson and his wife continue to occupy the home.


The title to Fernberg is transferred from Hall to Adelaide Palmer, Stevenson's sister-in-law.


Governor Sir William MacGregor moves to Fernberg as a temporary measure, after the former Government House is handed over by the Government to form the nucleus of Queensland's first university. Plans are formulated to build a new Government House in Victoria Park.


The Queensland Government purchases Fernberg as a permanent Government House for £10,000.


Read more about the heritage-listed gardens and grounds of the Government House Estate.

Queensland’s Government House