Dictionary of Sydney

The Dictionary of Sydney was archived in 2021.

First Government House

Residence for the first nine Governors of NSW, which was the first major building in the colony. The first permanent building in the colony, it had two storeys built of bricks and stone comprising six rooms, two cellars and a rear staircase. In front of the house was a garden where many imported plant species were grown and the first orchard planted. The Museum of Sydney, on the corner of Bridge and Phillip Streets, was built on its site.

-33.863595433214, 151.21155005379

Replaced by
1788 - 1789
Superseded by
Superseded by

First Government House

CC BY-SA 2.0

A two-storey brick house, Government House was the most impressive building in the early colony. It was not well-built however, and required frequent repairs. Plans to replace it were first suggested in 1817, but the new Government House was not completed until 1845.

The first Government House: building on Phillip’s ‘good foundation’


The first Government House was not a simple singular structure but a complex with a yard, outbuildings, guardhouse, garden and greater domain. It was a home, an office and a venue for public and private entertaining, but also a symbol of British authority, with all that that meant to different people, both then and now.

Phillip’s Table: Food in the early Sydney settlement


In the days of the early settlement, the governor's table was a place for administration, negotiation, revelation and celebration. What can we discover about this period in our history from a gastronomic perspective, and what does Phillip's table reveal about life at Government House?