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Interpretative Centre for children

Virtual House

The interpretative centre in Old Government House is split into three rooms and tells the story of the building and the people who lived and worked there in colonial times.

“Old Government House was the first significant building to be built after Queensland was granted independence as a separate colony,” Professor Lavery said.

“Interactive displays engage visitors and bring the history to life. In one display you can ‘rebuild’ all the extensions and changes that were made to the House as Brisbane developed. Another display tells about each of the Colonial Governors, their families, and interesting events of the time.”

Professor Lavery said a team led by QUT’s Professor Jeff Jones had created a 3D virtual house in an immersive environment so that visitors could virtually move around the house in the year 1900.

“We also have an interactive panorama of Brisbane in 1872 looking at Gardens Point before it was built on by QUT’s predecessor institutions. It was all open fields and gardens and the house stood prominently on this bend in the river,” he said.

“A high point in the importance of the House was the period around 1900. The colony had its most senior governor, Lord Lamington, who was connected to Queen Victoria. In 1901 the Queen died, a royal tour by the future King George V was the grandest event ever seen in Brisbane, and Federation changed Queensland from an independent colony to a state of Australia.

“It is worthwhile remembering that in colonial times governors and visiting Royals were the superstars and had a huge impact on ordinary people who would turn out in their thousands waving flags to greet them.

“The House housed royal visitors and was the social hub for the Brisbane elite. The place to be seen was at a ball or reception at Government House. The restored House will come back to life as it again hosts events ranging from dinners to receptions to weddings.”

Professor Lavery said the interpretative centre tells the story of the House’s different purposes as an administrative and social hub and as a family home.

“When you look at the building you can see all these aspects of life in our colonial past actually represented in the way the House was laid out,” he said.

“The building tells a story of how different areas within the House reflect a very formal relationship between different groups and their allocated activities. The servants had their place at the back of the House and the governor and his guests had their place in the front of the House.

“Upstairs was a private area with bedrooms and nurseries and downstairs was the public area where business and public activities of the day happened.

“The eastern side was the male or business side of the House and the western side was the family or female side. As you go round the House you can read the structure of Victorian society and the overarching picture that emerges is that everyone had their place.”