Government House Honours and Awards Dinner
I begin by acknowledging the Traditional Owners of the lands around Brisbane, and pay my respects to Elders past, present and emerging.
Thank you all for joining Graeme and me for this special, celebratory dinner – we are delighted to welcome you here to Fernberg and once again, on behalf of all Queenslanders, I congratulate the recipients of honours named in this year’s King’s Birthday list.
Formal dinners here at Fernberg invariably remind me of the history of this marvellous house and of our State, because it is all around us.
- We are sitting in the dining room of the original family home built in 1865 by a successful German migrant;
- this magnificent yellow-wood table was made here in Brisbane in 1896 by local craftsmen, from timber felled and milled in the Border Ranges;
- the Government House Chefs have prepared our meal tonight in the same basement kitchen that has now served 17 Governors; and
- the traditional piper’s salute that welcomed us here tonight is a direct link to our first Queen – Queen Victoria – who created the position of Piper to the Sovereign in 1843.
That Scottish connection runs deep here at Government House.
- John Stevenson, the second owner of Fernberg, was a proud laird who not only installed the magnificent stained-glass window of Robert the Bruce above the cedar staircase, but invited massed highland pipe bands to perform here in the 1880s;
- the first Governor to live here in 1910 was the doctor and Albert Medal-winner, Sir William MacGregor, born and raised in Aberdeenshire;
- and the first woman to serve as Governor of Queensland, the Honourable Leneen Forde, staged Highland Games on the Government House estate in the early 1990s – her husband, Angus McDonald, apparently excelled at the caber toss!
Graeme and I may not be able to claim Scots heritage, but we are very proud to be the current Vice-Regal custodians of this wonderful estate. It represents the heritage we all share as Queenslanders.
We feel very privileged to live and work here and to be able to extend Government House hospitality to exceptional men and women on occasions such as this.
Thank you all again for joining us tonight, and congratulations once more to the awardees on the honours they have received.
You may not yet have realised it, but your cohort has the distinction of being the first ever to be recognised in a King’s Birthday list since the Australian honours and awards system was established in 1975!
That is indeed a unique distinction and I know you will wear your honours with pride.
Graeme and I are delighted to host you here tonight and wish you all a wonderful evening.