Old Government House - South Australia

Old Government House is situated in Belair National Park, South Australia's oldest National Park, 12 kms from Adelaide C.B.D. Its building - a main building and detached kitchen with servants accommodation - date from the 1850s and were built for the first vice-regal summer retreat in South Australia. Full restoration took place in the 1970s as a fully furnished Victorian gentleman's country retreat; turreted colonial - Georgian in style, surrounded by extensive tiled terracing. Each room reflects its original function - wide entrance hall, manly study, gracious dining room with drawing area, sole bedroom with slightly feminine influence and adjacent gentleman's dressing room and bathroom with plunge pool. The second building has been re-interpreted as a fully furnished cottage for a workman's family of the late 19th Century, with parlour, comfortable furnished bedroom, a large, well appointed kitchen with an excellent and functional range with coppers and second bedroom, now as a children's room. Throughout are many artefacts which belonged to significant pioneer families with some emphasis on the needle arts of several identified women pioneers. The buildings are set in a secluded garden re-created in mid-Victorian Anglo-Italianate style and features mature, exotic trees and a heritage rose collection. It provides an attractive venue for touring parties and educational groups, as well as wedding ceremonies and heritage style functions. It is the premier built heritage site in Belair National Park and is managed by the volunteer group, the Friends of Old Government House on behalf of Belair National Park, Department of Environment, Heritage and Aboriginal Affairs.

Collections

2,000-3,000 items. The collection is housed in two buildings built on the Government Farm (now Belair National Park) originally as a vice-regal summer retreat (1860-1880) and later maintained as living premises for employees of various Government departments (1880-1958). At the time of proposed restoration as a house museum in 1960, any original furnishings, furniture and artefacts had been removed from the site. Sir J.B. Cleland (Chairman of the National Parks Commission) made a public appeal in the early 1960s for donations for suitable furniture and artefacts from descendants of S.A.'s pioneer families to form the nucleus of the collection. Most of these donated items still remain in the collection. Following restoration of the premises, in the 1970's, these artefacts have been augmented with further donations from the public, from government store and with purchases of items largely from the period 1860-1880. A number of artefacts and pieces of furniture belonged to the prominent figures in South Australia's colonial history, (eg, governors, explorers, men in public life) and a significant part of the collection consists of items handcrafted by identified women pioneers and includes embroideries, tapestries, needlework, quilts, pictures and drawings.