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Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Go behind the scenes at Government House

This weekend, Government House will open its doors for the biannual open day, held in March and October each year.

Manager of household operations, Lynette Mace MVO CSM, with household attendants Grant Fry and Roger King RVM OAM in the small dining room at Government House.

Government House, the residence of the Governor-General, will be open on Saturday 6 October for members of the public to see the house and grounds of “one of Australia’s most iconic residences”.

Household attendant Roger King RVM OAM, who has worked at Government House for 45 years under 10 Governor-Generals, says Government House used to be a farm home to around 40,000 grazing sheep.

“What’s nice about this is that it’s not always been the residence of the Governor-General,” says manager of household operations Lynette Mace MVO CSM.

“We like to promote it as the people’s home, and a very lived in home,” she says.

Grounds coordinator Glenn Huender leads a team of eight staff, caring for and maintaining the property and grounds of Government House.

Government House is home to around 80 staff members in total, including eight property services staff, eight household attendants including two chefs, as well as administration staff.

The household staff have been busy not only preparing for open day, but ensuring that the many events hosted at Government House run smoothly. Ms Mace says the household team ensure every detail is looked after, including guest numbers, staff, catering, colour themes, designates and accessibility.

“Every sort of minor detail that we can think of and include, we try to,” she says.

The team also prepare for the school children who visit Government House for tours each year.

The drawing room at Government House is used for a range of different events and occasions, including the swearing-in of Australian Prime Ministers.

“It’s lovely to see the look on the children’s faces when they see the [large dining room] table being set for a large function,” Ms Mace says.

“We have over 25,000 [school children] come through per year,” adds Mr King, who has been at Government House for some of the most important political events in Australian history, including the 1975 dismissal of the Whitlam Government by then Governor-General Sir John Kerr.

Outside the residence, the property services team have been preparing the grounds and gardens for open day. Government House boasts around 12ha of cultivated gardens, 8ha of irrigated turf and 30ha of grasslands.

“[From] six weeks out the gardening team are commencing prep for open day,” says manager, property services Matt Malone. “It’s a unique opportunity to get access to the grounds and the house for the public.”

Both Government House and Parliament House will hold open days on Saturday 6 October. For more information visit gg.gov.au and aph.gov.au

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