Old Government House is an important UNESCO World Heritage listed site, and one of 11 convict sites recognised in the Australian Convict Sites World Heritage series.
Situated on the traditional lands of the Burramatta Dharug, the convict-built house and Barracks buildings were built between 1799 and 1818, making them the oldest surviving public buildings in Australia.
The Georgian house was the country residence for the first ten governors of New South Wales, including Governor Lachlan Macquarie and his family. The ten Governors used Old Government House as either their primary or secondary residence. For some it was considered the “country retreat” while others preferred to live there rather than Sydney. Each Governor had their own challenges with running the colony, from the expansion of the settlement, the rebellion of soldiers and the demands of free settlers, to the advent of elected government.
The convicts were servants to the Governors, and had roles as cooks, chambermaids, and many other duties associated with the house. The Marines and soldiers were stationed there as aids and bodyguards to the Governor and his family.
Governor Denison officially handed over the house to the care of the Parramatta Park Trust in 1855. Parramatta Park Trust leased the building for private use, and over the next 50 years it was run variously as a boarding house, school and private home.
In 1908 the Government received a request from the Kings School to use the house to accommodate the junior boarders. The Government Architect, Walter Liberty Vernon, embarked on a restoration project, which is now acknowledged as the first conservation project of a heritage house in Australia.
The Kings School moved in in 1910 and for the next 55 years, up to 50 boys at a time, plus the Housemaster, Matron and staff lived at Old Government House. The boys walked to school at the main building across the Parramatta River each day.
After the Kings School moved to their current site at North Parramatta, Old Government House was offered to the National Trust for use as a House Museum. In 1967 the House transferred to the National Trust by an act of Parliament, and was restored in time for the opening by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth in 1970. The house now features a significant collection of Australian colonial furniture, displayed as it would have been when Governor Macquarie was in residence.
How to get here
Old Government House is located in Parramatta Park, Parramatta NSW.
By public transport: Old Government House is an easy walk from Parramatta and Westmead trains stations. For ferry services, catch the Rivercat ferry and alight at Charles Street wharf – from there it’s a short walk along the riverside. The Parramatta shuttle bus also operates on a free loop around Parramatta – alight at Stop 4 (Parramatta Stadium, O’Connell Street)
If you are on foot, the best entry points to Parramatta Park are the George Street or Pitt Street gates on the east, Queens Road gate or Park Avenue to the west.
By car: Drive into Parramatta Park and follow the loop around the park until you reach Old Government House. There is limited parking available in Parramatta Park.
Planning ahead is the best way to get the most out of your visit to Old Government House. Here, you’ll find answers to some of our most frequently-asked questions about visiting.
When should I visit?
Anytime! World Heritage-listed Old Government House is perfect for visiting all year round. There are changing exhibitions to view upstairs, and regular events and tours to enjoy downstairs in the main house. If you’re looking for things to do in Parramatta, Old Government House is a great way to dive into convict history and also enjoy a day in beautiful Parramatta Park.
How much time do I need?
To fully appreciate Old Government House we recommend that you allow at least two hours for exploring the exhibition and house and learning about its fascinating history. Afterwards we highly recommend having a browse in our shop and then relaxing on the Barracks’ verandah with an ice block.
Will children enjoy visiting?
Old Government House is very family friendly, and a great way to introduce children to Australian convict history. Our volunteer guides are able to easily adapt tours for young visitors. The old kitchen and bedrooms reveal what life was really like back in the 18th and 19th centuries, plus there’s a Rosella hunt and river creature colouring activity to keep kids entertained. We also offer an education program for school visits.
What else can I see and do nearby?
Add Parramatta Park, Female Factory, Lancer’s Barracks, and Brislington House to your agenda. You can also do a pleasant 30-minute stroll along the Parramatta River to nearby National Trust property; Experiment Farm Cottage. While you’re there, visit Elizabeth Farm and Hambledon Cottage.
Can I bring my pet?
Everyone is welcome at Old Government House, however we are unable to accommodate pets (excluding assistance animals) inside the house. Well-behaved dogs on leash are very welcome in the grounds. Please make sure to clean up after your dog with bins provided.
Can tour groups visit?
Groups are very welcome at Old Government House. To book a group visit, please call (02) 9635 8149 or email email@example.com
Is it wheelchair accessible?
The ground floor of Old Government House is wheelchair accessible. The first floor exhibition space is only accessible via stairs. There are a number of accessible parking spots located throughout Parramatta Park.
Can I hire a venue for my special event?
With a vice-regal portico and stunning 18th century rooms, Old Government House is a popular location for weddings and special events. To find out more, please visit our venue hire page.