Morning Tea to Open The Governor’s Courtyard
Speech delivered by Air Commodore Mark Gower AM LVO OAM (Mil), Official Secretary: Good morning Your Excellency, Mrs de Jersey, staff, supporters and contactors of Government House.
It is a great pleasure to welcome you all here this morning.
For many decades after Fernberg’s construction, the very spot on which we gather marked the end of a carriage-way that swept around the original villa to the 1865 entrance in front of you.
Racing along the Straight Six – so named after the famous six-furlong straight at Melbourne’s Flemington Racecourse – was a rite of passage for Brisbane’s early horse-drawn buggy drivers, including, I imagine, the Governor’s great grandfather, who drove hansom cabs in old Brisbane town.
Along the way, this small space has also served as a garden bed, a passageway between the House and staff quarters built in 1937, and, for the past few years, as a lunch area for staff –
who affectionately referred to it is as the ‘Beergarden’, reflecting the astroturf ground covering and not, I confirm, any liquid consumed here!
After the staff quarters were converted into guest accommodation in 2016, Government House and the Queensland Government began investigating the possibility of upgrading and refurbishing this area as an informal recreation and entertainment space for guests and visitors.
The resultant courtyard, opened today, achieves that aim. It also greatly enhances the original 1865 entrance while enabling seamless movement between the main House and guest accommodation.
Jeremy Ferrier’s design embraces contemporary Queensland elements while complementing established heritage features of the estate – never an easy task; congratulations, Jeremy, on what you have achieved.
Four pallets of famed Brisbane Tuff were used to construct the retaining wall, while topiary shrubs, clipped hedges and the purple-flowered Tibouchina trees are all part of the established horticultural heritage of the estate.
The Straight Six link is also preserved in the final design by a narrow passageway, and I know the current Governor is particularly excited by the inclusion of the water feature, fulfilling architect Richard Gailey’s vision of a ‘rustic fountain’ for the estate – a mere 130 years after it was first envisaged in the plans for the 1890s extensions!
I thank everyone involved in bringing this project to fruition, particularly the team from principal contractor, Naturform, who confronted with absolute professionalism the challenges of working in this busy, dynamic environment.
I thank also the representatives from Q Build and the Department of Housing and Public Works, including Louwella Johnson, Christian Farlow and Caroline Brumpton, who contribute their expertise, time, and, importantly, the financial resources of the State, to the ongoing preservation of this important estate.
Finally, I thank and congratulate the team at Government House who assisted, especially Scott Allen and our horticulturalists.
Thank you all for your attendance today. It is now my great honour to invite His Excellency to briefly address you before unveiling the plaques. This will be followed by morning tea. Thank you.