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DVH Probus visit to Government House and La Trobe Cottage, 12 3 15

Midst the whirr of the security helicopters and the roar of the cars drifting up the hill from Albert Park, we 29 Probians were treated to a guided tour of both Government House and La Trobe Cottage, on 12th March.

Government House was completed in 1876, and is the home to Governor, The Honourable Alex Chernov AC QC, and Mrs Chernov, as they go about their constitutional, ceremonial and community duties. Between them, they have 120 charities to attend to. Governor Chernov s 5 year term ends in June this year, and for the first time a woman will be Governor. Previously, of Victoria’s 29 Governors, 17 have lived in this Government House.

Government House sits amongst 11 hectares of gardens on the highest point of the Domain Parklands, and was designed by architect William Wardell, and completed in the Italianate style in 1876.

We were shown through the State Apartments, entering via the magnificent duck egg blue and gold leaf decorated Ballroom, which is used for large receptions, award and investiture ceremonies, and other community celebrations. Ken Falconer was awarded his OAM here.

We then walked through the State Drawing Room to the Conservatory looking out onto Fountain Court and the city of Melbourne beyond. I loved the exquisite Italian marble sculptures here.

From the State Hall, which leads off into the offices and the Governor s private apartments, and viewed the Billiard Room, with Sir Walter Lindrum s billiard cues, and the surrounding photos of previous Governors and their wives.

Then the grand State Dining Room which seats 54 guests at a very large Spanish mahogany table. Features here were the black Belgian marble mantelpiece, and the Belgian etched glass windows.

Out into the sunshine, and a short walk to Governor Charles Joseph La Trobe s cottage, Victoria’s oldest surviving building. Governor La Trobe was Victoria s first Governor, from 1839-1854. He and his Swiss wife Sophie had 4 children. His cottage is well maintained by the CJ La Trobe Society Inc, and is typical of the period, although much smaller now than the original 9 rooms, stables and outbuildings. The living quarters are separated from the Kitchen and work area by gardens, and surrounded by a low picket fence. Complete with pale blue shutters on the windows, and cedar shingles on the roof, it contains many original furnishings and artefacts; La Trobe’s medicine chest, family photos and his water colour paintings. La Trobe was also a keen gardener and botanist. He collected native plant specimens on his tours around Victoria, and used these in establishing extensive gardens on his estate, which was originally known as Jolimont.

So, after a very informative morning, all wended their ways home. Thank you to Ken for organising the day. 

Beth Seers.