In 2011, the Governor launched a history book titled Government House and Western Australian Society 1829-2010 by Jeremy C Martens. The author successfully presented the historian’s perspective that, since the early colonial era, the “House and its grounds can be a useful and valuable lens through which to view the fascinating historical evolution of Western Australia and its people.” To celebrate the opening of the present House in September 1863, this timeline illustrates snapshots of the history of the development of Government House, the State, the Nation and the World for the past 150 years.
On 12 August 1829, a large party assembled near the present site of the Perth Town Hall. Governor Stirling, along with Captain Irwin and soldiers of the 63rd in ceremonial dress, Captain Fremantle and Captain Dance with contingents from the HMS Challenger and HMS Sulphur and most of the civil officials from the Swan River Colony attended.
Only one woman, Mrs Helena Dance, joined the party as Ellen Stirling was unwell. Mrs Dance cut down a tree to mark the occasion and Stirling proudly proclaimed the birth of Perth.
The ‘Swan River Colony’ was the name given to the original British settlement in Western Australia. On 2 May 1829 Captain Charles Fremantle claimed the colony for Britain.
The first European to explore the river was Dutchman, Willem de Vlamingh, in 1697. It was Vlamingh who named it ‘Swan River’ after its black swans.
In 1827 Captain James Stirling explored the Swan River for Britain and reported favourably on the supply of fresh water and the fertility of the surrounding soil. He returned as Governor of the Swan River Colony arriving in June 1829.
The first sitting of the Legislative Council was held on 7 February 1832. The first constituted Legislative Council consisted of five official members nominated by, and including, the Governor.
Originally the site of mudflats which restricted river navigation, the Colony Government constructed a causeway and bridge across the site. The project was first planned in 1834 and opened in 1843.
When floods in 1862 almost destroyed it, the structure was rebuilt using convict labour, and raised to better withstand future floods. Governor John Hampton officially opened the new Causeway on 12 November 1867.
Western Australia’s first consignment of convict labour arrived on 1 June 1850.
Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh was scheduled to visit Western Australia in 1867. Months of organisation, anticipation and expense for the proposed visit all came to nothing when a despatch arriving on 5 November 1867 announcing that the ship carrying Prince Alfred had sailed past the colony on its way to South Australia and, furthermore that the Prince had never intended to visit Western Australia.
Convict labour ceased in Western Australia.
Prince Alfred (Seated centre) and party on the terrace stairs below Government House in February 1869.
Governor Hampton made the decision to build a Town Hall for the citizens of Perth in 1866, as part of a public works program using the skills of the convict population.
The Perth Town Hall was designed by Richard Roach Jewell and James Manning and took 3 years to build.
The west and principal windows in the Main Hall were designed with initials JSH for Governor John Stephen Hampton. The centre of the five light windows was changed to FAW after Frederick Aloysius Weld became Governor in 1868. Governor Weld officially opened the Town Hall on Foundation Day, 1 June 1870.
Under the terms of the Australian Colonies Government Act, twelve elected councillors, together with six nominated by the Governor, three official and three non-official, formed the Legislative Council.
By 1887, the Legislative Council had increased to a total of twenty six members.
During the early years of settlement in the colony of Western Australia there was no organised education system. The majority of people from the lower working class were illiterate; those few able to read and write passed their knowledge on to their own children.
The Elementary Education Act was passed in 1871 and compulsory education for all children aged between 6 and 14 years was introduced.
In 1874, the WA Legislative Council voted £15,000 for the construction of a telegraph line from King George Sound, Albany Western Australia to Eucla on the border with South Australia.
At the same time, the South Australian authorities agreed to construct a line from Port Augusta to Eucla.
This inter-colonial line, 2532 kms long, was opened on
8 December 1877 and enabled Western Australia to be in telegraphic communication with the rest of the world.
In 1879, after much debate as to the route of the railway, a contract was let for the construction of a railway from Fremantle to Guildford. This was to be the first section of a line from the coast to the developing agricultural district of the Avon valley.
Construction took two years and the line was opened on 1 March 1881 by His Excellency Sir William Cleaver Robinson KCMG.
Governor Broome suggested to the Colonial Office that a bicameral parliamentary system of government be established and he later provided a draft Constitution, which in 1889 became the basis for the Constitution Act of 1889.
In December 1889, a delegation, led by newly appointed Governor Sir William Robinson, travelled to England to put forward further appeal for self-government and on the 15 of August 1890, the Constitution Bill received Royal Assent and Western Australia was granted responsible self-government.
Proclamation of the new Constitution in Western Australia in October 1890 marked the beginning of responsible government.
Governor Sir William Robinson was sent from London to supervise the change from colony to self-government, as only the Queen’s representative had the authority to proclaim the new constitution and bring it into effect.
Thousands of people gathered on the Esplanade in Perth to celebrate the event. The Constitution was proclaimed to the crowd, and many people enjoyed a public banquet, games, a children’s festival, and fireworks.
John Forrest was later elected the first Premier of Western Australia.
The first fully elective Legislative Council was elected on 16 July 1894. Twenty-one members were elected, three from each of seven provinces, one to retire every two years. Enrolment to vote was based on a restricted property franchise.
Electric trams arrive in Perth, and were operated by a British company, Perth Tramways Limited.
For five days in July 1901 Perth welcomed the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and York. Flags, bunting and banners decorated the city, and no fewer than ten triumphal arches were built across the city centre.
Kings Park officially named to celebrate the accession of King Edward VII to throne.
Perth City Fire Brigade moved to new headquarters on the corner of Murray and Irwin Streets. In the early years of the station, turnouts to fires by horse-drawn steamers were assisted by automatic apparatus designed by firemen. It was the most advanced station in Australia at that time.
The first stage of the construction of Parliament House – a frontage to Harvest Terrace, the two chambers and a small number of temporary offices, occurred between 1902 and 1904.
The Goldfields Water Supply was opened by Premier John Forrest. This followed the suicide of Engineer-in-Chief, C Y O’Connor, in October 1902, as a result of intense criticism of the project.
The University began operation in 1913 as a group of timber houses in Irwin Street, central Perth.
AMP Chambers designed by Oldham and Cox were built on the corner of St Georges Terrace and William Street. The six-storey building was clad with sandstone, and the interior was decorated with jarrah.
The Trans-Australia railway from Port Augusta to Kalgoorlie is opened.
Edward, The Prince of Wales arrived in Australia in April 1920, representing his father, King George V. His mission was to thank Australians for the part they played in World War One.
The General Post Office opens in Forrest Place. After almost a decade of construction, protracted by World War I and material shortages, at the time of its opening the GPO was the largest building in Perth.
One of the first buses in Perth ran from St Georges Terrace to North Perth. The fare was three pence.
On Wednesday 4 June 1924, 6WF took to the air as Western Australia's first, and only Australia's fourth, radio station. It drew its early name from Westralian Farmers Ltd, which started the operation to provide information and entertainment to rural areas, and the station was based in the company's building. On the evening of that Wednesday, listeners from around the state heard the event.
While it may not match up to the technologies of today, the original station did have a transmitter that was the most powerful allowed under Commonwealth regulations of the day, necessary to cover a broadcast region like Western Australia.
Premier Sir James Mitchell officiated at the laying of the foundation stone of the first permanent University building, the Natural Sciences building (now Park Avenue building).
The Duke and Duchess of York visit Perth, as guests of Governor Campion. They were later to become King George VI and Queen Elizabeth.
Charles Kingsford Smith and Charles Ulm fly into Perth in the first non stop trans- Australian Flight.
Winthrop Hall was opened at the University of Western Australia.
On 8 April 1933, Nationalist Premier Sir James Mitchell's government held a referendum on secession alongside the State parliamentary election. The Nationalists had campaigned in favour of secession, while the Labor party had campaigned against breaking from the Federation. 68% of the 237,198 voters voted in favour of secession.
Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester first visited Western Australia in 1934. He later became Australia’s first Royal Governor-General. He and his wife Princess Alice resided in Australia from 1945 to 1947.
The Colonial Mutual Life Assurance Building was built in 1936 and demolished in the 1970s.
At least 800 Aboriginal pastoral workers walk off the job in Northwest Western Australia, starting one of the longest industrial strikes in Australia.
When bad weather forced Lang Hancock to fly his tiny Auster aircraft below the clouds, through a gorge route in the Pilbara region, he observed what appeared to be iron ore in the escarpment.”
The newly crowned Queen, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, accompanied by her husband His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh, visit Western Australia. This was the first ever visit to Australia by a reigning monarch.
In March 1958 the Queen Mother arrived in Perth and 100,000 people lined the route from the airport to Government House.
Narrows Bridge opens, connecting Perth’s northern and southern suburbs.
Well into the 1950’s, building height restrictions had ensured that Government House retained a prominent position on St Georges Terrace; and as late as 1960 the Vice Regal residence could be easily seen from Mt Eliza (Kings Park). By the mid-1970’s, St Georges Terrace was transformed and Government House was dwarfed by Council House, the Perth Concert Hall and several multi-storey skyscrapers.
The Duke of Edinburgh visited Western Australia between 21 November and 2 December 1962 to open and attend the British Commonwealth Games held in Perth.
1962 saw the opening of the Perry Lakes Stadium, which was the venue for many sports until it was demolished in 2009.
During this visit to Australia, Her Majesty made a unique broadcast to people in remote communities over the Flying Doctor network in Alice Springs.
Eric Edgar Cook, a convicted murderer, was the last person to be hanged at Fremantle Prison on 26 October 1964.
Measuring 6.9 on the Richter Scale, one of the largest earthquakes ever to occur in Western Australia destroyed the small town of Meckering. Miraculously no lives were lost.
The Coat of Arms of the State of Western Australia was granted by Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, by Royal Warrant dated the 17th day of March, 1969.
During the Queen’s Silver Jubilee celebrations in 1977, Her Majesty visited every State and Territory in Australia during a three week tour.
Prince Charles' visit during the 150th anniversary of the founding of the State, was the longest and most extensive ever made to Western Australia by a member of the Royal family.
Prince Charles and Princess Diana began a six week visit to Australia and New Zealand in March 1983. Prince William, aged nine months accompanied them.
Australians spent the night of 26 September 1983 watching the crucial race on television.
Princess Anne visited Western Australia during February 1987 to attend the America’s Cup programme.
Her Majesty and His Royal Highness took part in Australia’s bicentenary celebration travelling extensively across the nation.
The Duke of Edinburgh visited Western Australia between 27 November and 1 December 1990 primarily to attend the International Union of Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources Assembly.
The line to Joondalup was completed on 20 December 1992, involving a realignment of the entire bus system, which saw train stations become interchanges.
On 9 December 1993 the Endeavour was launched from Fremantle port. This ship is a working replica of that commanded by Lieutenant James Cook on his first voyage of discovery to Australia and New Zealand from 1769 – 1771.
His Royal Highness Prince Willem-Alexander visited Perth as the special guest of the Government of Western Australia. The Crown Prince was invited to attend the Tri-centennial celebration of the European naming of the Swan River and Rottnest Island by Dutch explorer and navigator, Willem de Vlamingh.
Former Russian President and Nobel Peace Prize winner Mikhail Gorbachev meets retired General H Norman Schwarzkopf during their visit to Australia as part of the World Masters of Business shows. During his visit Mr Gorbachev visited Government House Perth.
The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh visited Western Australia from 31 March 2000 to 1 April 2000. In a Dedication Ceremony held at the State War Memorial in Kings Park, Her Majesty lit the ‘Flame of Remembrance’.
The flame used in the dedication ceremony was drawn from the eternal flame at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra in April 1997 and was kept alight at Alinta Gas's research laboratory in Bentley until the Dedication Ceremony in 2000.
Princess Anne visited Western Australia on 6 and 7 July 2000 in connection with the Australian Olympic Committee and the British Olympic Association.
His Royal Highness, Prince Edward, visited Western Australia between 27 and 29 November 2002 to promote The Duke of Edinburgh Awards Scheme. During his stay at Government House, His Royal Highness planted a Weeping Peppermint tree in the gardens.
His Royal Highness, Prince Charles, visited Western Australia from 28 February to 2 March 2005.
The twenty second Meeting of the Commonwealth Heads of Government was held in Perth in October 2011. This marked the first time the event had been held in Australia since 2002.
The event was hosted by Prime Minister Julia Gillard. The summit was opened by the Head of the Commonwealth, Queen Elizabeth II.
In October 2011, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and her husband, His Royal Highness Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh stayed in Perth as part of an official Australian visit. While in Perth the Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh took residence at Government House where a garden party was hosted within the grounds by Premier Hon Colin Barnett.
During her visit Her Majesty also attended the Opening Ceremony of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM).
As the Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh wrapped up their Australian tour a “Big Aussie BBQ” was organised on Perth’s foreshore. An estimated 100,000 people headed to the event where the Her Majesty gave a final speech.
Prince Harry visited Western Australia as he completed his whirlwind tour of Australia with a brief stopover in Perth on 6 October 2013.
His day was taken up mostly with a visit to the home of the SAS Regiment at the Campbell Barracks in Swanbourne where he honoured fallen soldiers, and comforted their families.
1890 December 29 to
1901 February 14
1901 February 15 to 1901 May 27
1901 May 27 to 1901 November 21 and
1901 23 December to 1902 June 24
1901 November 21 to 1901 December 23
1902 July 1 to
1904 August 25
1904 August 10 to 1905 August 25
1905 August 25 to 1906 May 7
1906 May 7 to 1910 September 16
1910 September 16 to 1911 October 7
1911 October 7 to 1916 July 27
1916 July 27 to 1917 June 28
1917 June 28 to 1919 April 17
1919 April 17 to 1919 May 17
1919 May 17 to 1924 April 15
1924 April 16 to
1930 April 23
1930 April 24 to
1933 April 24
1933 April 24 to
1936 August 19
1936 August 20 to 1945 July 31
1945 July 31 to 1947 April 1
1947 April 1 to 1953 February 23
1953 February 23 to 1959 April 2
1959 April 2 to
1971 March 3
1971 March 3 to 1974 April 8
1974 April 8 to
1982 January 25
1982 January 25 to 1983 February 19
1983 February 19 to
1988 February 25
1988 February 25 to
1990 February 12
1990 February 12 to 1993 February 6
1993 February 6 to 2001 February 10
2001 February 10 to
2006 January 16
2006 January 25 to
2008 September 6
2008 September 6