January 26, 2014

What I saw on Australia Day at Government House and LaTrobe's Cottage

The tale end, literally, of the Roulettes fly-by.  They were too fast for me to catch at the front end.

Government House, Melbourne, which I only managed to find with help from a nice man in a green vest.
The ballroom at Government House.
The balcony at the other end of the ballroom.
Vegemite jar made from Lego.
Government House made from Lego.
Special chair for special people in the ballroom at Government House.
Refreshments anyone?  Well, no as it happens.  But this the serving area at the side of the ballroom.
It was surprisingly cool loitering near the fountain.  Welcome relief on a hot day.
The old kitchen kitchen, tucked away out the back of Government House.
Still in the old kitchen, from where I bought my Victorian Women's Association scone with jam & cream and a cup of coffee.
A ring-in horse, just for the day.  Someone must have thought the public wouldn't understand the concept of 'the old horse stables' unless actual horses were occupying a couple of the stables.
This might be where you'd make small talk and sip your champagne if invited to a social event at Government House.
There were people and queues everywhere, as far as the eye could see.  Government House is evidently an extremely popular place for families on Australia Day.  Waiting at the gate takes an age, then at least an hour in a queue to do the house tour. 
Government House has a nice little front yard, with enough room for a few friends.
A reenactment of some sort, but I don't know what, because this was at LaTrobe's cottage, and I didn't think he was a military man.  Might have been an excuse to get dressed up, but it would have been awfully hot in those uniforms.
And there was lots of smoke after the explosion.  The gun fire later was loud and startling.

Inside LaTrobe's cottage - the bedroom.
The front of the cottage.
Another view of the bedroom.
The sitting room.  Yes, tiny.  How did the women in their enormous dresses get around a room like this?  Very carefully, I expect, and only one or two at a time, not a gaggle of them.
The dining room.
A bit blurry and a bit glarey, but this is the kitchen, housed in a separate building, as they were back then, so that if the kitchen caught fire the main house would, they hoped, be spared the flames.
The wife had her companion (and the companion's child) shipped out to Australia too, for which she and the child were rewarded with this tiny room to sleep, next to the kitchen.
Yes, it's a little, little room, and the littlest bed I've ever seen.
  That was my Australia Day 2014.
(Plus some pistachio and lemon gelato on the way home.)


  1. Nice pics..

    Now, were you not tempted to take a dip in that fountain, my friend?

    "A ring-in horse, just for the day. Someone must have thought the public wouldn't understand the concept of 'the old horse stables' unless actual horses were occupying a couple of the stables"

    That made me LOL!.

  2. Wow!

    There's a kind of sense of overcompensation in all those grand rooms and balconies and elegantly chiselled stairways etc - colonials making for the fact that they're not in England anymore by attempting to recreate its grandeur in the most unsubtle way possible.

    But what I like most is the tiny intimacy of the bedroom and the humbleness of the cottage and its front lawn.

    I get a similar effect from the Royal Exhibition building - great, fuck-off facade - but a lovely intimate interior, columns made out of redgum(!), artwork that could have (and probably did) appear in fashion magazines of the day, and of course the humble and concreted carpark outside.

  3. Certainly nothing humble about Government House, Tim. The grounds are huge, the house is huge, the fountain is huge. Not a bad little place for the reigning Victorian GG to hang out.

    LaTrobe’s cottage, on the other hand, is every bit a cottage. I missed the first bit of the ‘tour’, but I gather the cottage, now located in the grounds of the Botanic Garden’s (at the other end, quite away from Govt House) was lived in by the LaTrobe family at some other location in Melbourne. So that little front lawn wasn’t actually their front lawn. Modest is an over statement, especially in relation to the poor companion’s accommodation. In fairness, the accommodation for the family couldn’t be described as anything other than modest, also. Everything would have been stifling in summers – and pity the women working in the kitchen.

    All very interesting though.

    I’ll endeavour to stand in the hours long queue at Government House next Australia Day (I’ll plan better) so as to do the full tour … or at least the bits that they let the prols inspect.

    The Royal Exhibition building is magnificent, and despite its grandness, was and is used for some pretty common day things … including the odd bridal exhibition! :-D It’s a great spot for the garden show, too. A building well suited to throngs of people, unlike Government House, which was evidently was intended for the elite, not the masses.

  4. Kath – I’m sure the horses weren’t mistreated, but it was stifling hot in the old stables, and barely a movement in the air. Can’t have been comfortable for the poor things. Really wish they’d not had them there, but I guess they do these things to help keep kiddies interested. Astonishing how many thousands of families turn up to these open days.

  5. And yes, very tempted to take a dip in the fountain, Kath! Oh to have my own fountain on a hot Melbourne day.

  6. I would not understand the concept of the "old horse stables" unless there were a few live horses present to illustrate the point.

    Otherwise who is to know what they are on about? Stables? For all I know they could be talking about the site of the birth place of God.

  7. Well then, Geoffff, clearly you were the target audience and should have been in attendance!

    (The scones were ok too - as far as illustrative scones go, they looked like scones, were topped in a traditional sconely manner, and tasted like scones. They weren't as good as mine though. Take that Victorian Women's Association!)