Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Government House, Sydney

At the top of the Moore Stairs is a park. Within that park is a trail. At the end of that trail is a small neo-gothic castle. This is the Government House of New South Wales. It's like the Governor's mansion for the state of New South Wales, though since 1996 it no longer serves as a residence. It is a rare breed in Australia of a strictly functional government building that is also completely open to the public every day of the week. Unless there is scheduled business of signing documents, hosting international leaders, or important receptions, you can walk right in for a half-hour tour. (As long as you don't take pictures, don't touch anything, don't lean on anything, don't sit on anything, and leave your backpack at the ticket office.)

This impressive building and its grounds were not always public, and in fact it took almost a hundred years for the building to be built. Taking the tour was an amazing history lesson. Our tour guide pointed out that British interest in Australia is a direct result of the United States' Declaration of Independence. Australia received all of the Common Wealth attention (and prisoners) that the United States denounced. I love Wikipedia which has a great History of Australia page under constant vigilance to increase the level of detail in this country's history prior to British colonization.

That being said, I'm even more proud of being a United States Citizen, because Australia is a great place. I'm glad we could all help make it happen. As I stood in the gardens looking around the sights are amazing. Sydney Opera House to the north, Sydney Harbor and sailboats to the east, lush gardens and gum trees to the south, Gothic revival castle to the west. This is an amazing destination to take in the process of Australia's colonial and post-industrial development. Especially on the way out, when the old and new colonial architecture dominate the landscape, side by side.

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