The official residence of South Australia’s Governor has always been on North Terrace. However, the first one was quite different to the building we see today.
Shortly after establishing the colony, the crew of the HMS Buffalo built a small and crude building for the first governor, Sir John Hindmarsh, and his family. Known as “Government Hut”, it stood where Adelaide Railway Station is today. The plain three-roomed wattle and daub cottage was described as “an extraordinary uncouth and repulsive structure”.
By 1838, the second governor, George Gawler, organised a much grander residence – a two-storey Regency-style stone building. This is the eastern section of today’s Government House. It was completed by 1840, and the newspaper described it as "one of the best buildings of the kind in the Southern Hemisphere – quite a palace”. As many colonists were still living in temporary tents or small cottages, there was some criticism over the cost.
From 1855 to 1856 additions including the central section doubled the building’s size. The façade of the Italianate addition was stuccoed to fit in with the existing eastern wing. A guardhouse, gates and flagpole were also added. Additions in the 1860s and 1870s included areas for servants, a conservatory, a billiards room and administrative offices.
King William Road was widened in the 1920s and several buildings on the grounds of Government House were demolished. They included a garage, a chauffeur’s residence, stables and part of the guardhouse. On 13 October 1927, the Government House Domain Dedication Act was passed to protect Government House as an important heritage site.
South Australia’s Government House is the oldest of its kind in Australia. It remains a significant landmark on North Terrace. The house is regularly opened for public access.