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Media Release
Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Senator the Hon. Ian Campbell

25 August 2005

Earliest colonial link added to National Heritage List

The site of the first Government House built during the settlement of Sydney has won a place on Australia’s National Heritage List, the Minister for Environment and Heritage, Senator Ian Campbell, announced today.

The 217-year-old First Government House Site in the heart of Sydney will join two other prominent Sydney sites on the National Heritage List - the Sydney Opera House, and the place where James Cook took his first steps on Australian soil, at Kurnell Peninsula on Botany Bay.

“This is the place where Governor Arthur Phillip constructed the colony’s first major building in May 1788, just months after the first fleet of eleven ships sailed into Sydney Harbour,” Senator Campbell said.

“The First Government House served as the home and offices of the colony’s first nine governors from 1788 to 1845 when it was demolished due to its poor condition. This spectacular setting inspired a number of artists, including Augustus Earle, to capture the vision on canvas.

“The First Government House was the centre of power and decision-making for the developing New South Wales colony which, at that time, covered two thirds of the continent. Its walls saw the passing of merchants, soldiers, Aborigines, foreign visitors, explorers, settlers and statesmen.

“This site also witnessed major events in the colony’s history - printing of the colony’s first Government Orders in 1795 and Australia’s first newspaper, the Sydney Gazette, in 1803; Governor Bligh’s arrest during the Rum Rebellion in 1806, and the first Legislative Council meeting in 1824.

“Although long demolished, the remains of this building have recently been carefully researched and presented to the public through the Museum of Sydney enabling this pivotal national story to be told.

“By including the First Government House Site in the National Heritage List, I am ensuring that this place will be protected for future generations under the Australian Government’s environmental law.

Places listed on the National Heritage List must be of outstanding value and importance to the nation as a whole. More than 90 places have been nominated for listing, including many natural, Indigenous and historic sites.

For more information on the National Heritage List visit

Publication quality images of watercolours of First Government House painted during the first years of the colony are available to the media on request.

Media contact:
Renae Stoikos 02 6277 7640 or 0418 568 434

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