Q The Governor of Queensland signs bills into law.
TRUE - and this still happens today. The Governor no longer lives in Old Government House. The Governor has lived at 'Fernberg' in Paddington since 1910. The current Governor of Queensland is Paul de Jersey. Paul de Jersey was sworn in to office on the 29th of July, 2014.
Q The Children's Protection Act of 1896 is an actual law.
TRUE - this was a real law signed by Governor Lamington in 1896. As The Voice in the Walls explains, it protects children from cruel working conditions. Prior to this law, many children like Mary worked in hard-working jobs that resulted in illness or sometimes death. This law has since been replaced by more contemporary laws that protect all children.
Q Mrs. Fitzgerald was an actual nurse maid at Old Government House.
FALSE - Mrs. Fitzgerald is an invented character for The Voice in the Walls. However, the way she dressed, spoke and her jobs was all based on what a real nurse maid would have been like. It's impossible to know who the actual servant staff at Old Government House were, as any records were incredibly secret simply not kept. Servants were seen as incredibly unimportant.
Q Mary and Victor were actual friends.
FALSE - Victor was only a toddler in 1896, and Mary is a complete invention for The Voice In The Walls. Mary was partly inspired by Mary Pentecost, a young indigenous girl who worked in the house. Only a few details remain of this real Mary's life. Normally records of servants were kept very private. The only reason we know so much about Mary is because Lady Lamington, the Governor's wife, took a liking to her, and mentioned her several times in her diary.
Q The lamington was invented at Old Government House.
TRUE - History is almost certain that the lamington was made at Old Government House. The story goes that Lady Lamington was surprised one day by unexpected guests. She immediately called to the French pastry chef to whip up afternoon tea, but the cupboards were bare except for stale sponge, some coconut, and left over chocolate sauce. So, the lamington was born. Governor Lamington disliked them, apparently, as he referred to them only as 'those poofy, wooly biscuits'.
Q The Governor signed laws in the office.
TRUE - Any time Victor or Mary refer to rooms, like the hall, office or the Governor's bedroom, they're telling the truth. Those are what those rooms would've actually been used for. The house is actually divided into two. The front of the house was for the Governor and his family. The back of the house was for the servants, who lived at the house too. There was an invisible boundary between these two sides that only a special few could cross. There was also a subtler boundary between left and right. Typically, men would sleep on the right side of the house, and women on the left.
Q The Children's Protection Act wouldn't have protected Mrs. Fitzgerald or her children.
TRUE - Because Mrs. Fitzgerald is indigenous, she would not have been protected under any law that was created in 1986. In the eyes of the Australian law, indigenous people were not recognised as citizens, instead being relegated to the category of 'flora and fauna'. This wasn't corrected until 1967, by which time Aboriginal people had endured monstrous injustice
Q There are actual voices in the walls at Old Government House.
WE DON'T KNOW - like any old place, there are plenty of ghost stories about Old Government House. What we know for sure is that a lot has happened there, right from the time it was built, through to the time it was university teaching rooms, through to now where it's a tourist attraction for many Brisbane visitors.
There are heaps of stories and secrets about Old Government House just waiting to be uncovered. Check these out:
For stories about pets, parties and plenty more, check out the House Bites section of the official Old Government House website.
To learn about the Lamingtons and other families who lived in the house, visit the history section of the website.
There are plenty of stories about people seeing ghosts in Old Government House. You can find one such story in the news section of the website.
Indigenous Queenslanders have had a long and difficult battle with the Queensland Parliament to become fully recognised citizens. This timeline (PDF 606 kb) outlines how the Queensland Parliament has slowly grown to acknowledge indigenous people's rights over time.