Goverment House

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.


Western Australia

1829
1830
1831
1832
1833
1834
1843
1844
1845
1846
1849
1850
1851
1854
1855
1859
1860
1863
1867
1868
1869
1870
1871
1872
1873
1874
1876
1877
1878
1879
1880
1881
1882
1883
1884
1885
1886
1889
1890
1891
1892
1893
1894
1899
1900
1901
1902
1903
1904
1905
1906
1907
1910
1911
1912
1913
1914
1915
1916
1917
1918
1919
1920
1921
1922
1923
1924
1925
1926
1927
1928
1929
1930
1931
1932
1933
1934
1935
1936
1937
1938
1939
1945
1946
1947
1948
1952
1953
1954
1955
1956
1957
1958
1959
1960
1961
1962
1963
1964
1965
1966
1967
1968
1969
1970
1971
1972
1973
1974
1975
1976
1977
1979
1980
1981
1982
1983
1984
1985
1986
1987
1988
1989
1990
1991
1992
1993
1994
1995
1996
1997
1998
1999
2000
2001
2002
2003
2004
2005
2006
2007
2008
2009
2010
2011
2012
2013
2014
2015

1829
The Birth of Perth

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.

1829
Swan River Colony

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.

1832
Legislative Council

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.

1843
Causeway opens over the Swan River

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.

1850
Convict Labour ceased in Western Australia

Western Australia’s first consignment of convict labour arrived on 1 June 1850.

1867
The Royal Visit that never eventuated

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.

1868
Convict labour ceased in Western Australia

Convict labour ceased in Western Australia.

1869
His Royal Highness Prince Alfred’s belated visit to Western Australia

Prince Alfred (Seated centre) and party on the terrace stairs below Government House in February 1869.

1870
Opening of Perth Town Hall

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.

1870
Representative Government established

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.

1871
Compulsory education introduced in Western Australia

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.

1877
Overland telegraph

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.

1881
Fremantle to Guildford Railway

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.

1884
Draft constitution

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.

1889
Constitution

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.

1890
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.

1893
Electricity is made available in Perth

1894
Legislative Council

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.

1899
Electric trams

Electric trams arrive in Perth, and were operated by a British company, Perth Tramways Limited.

1901
Royal Visit - Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and York

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.

1901
Kings Park

Kings Park officially named to celebrate the accession of King Edward VII to throne.

1901
Perth Fire Station

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.

1902
Western Australia’s Parliament House is built

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.

1903
Goldfields Water Supply

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.

1913
University of Western Australia

The University began operation in 1913 as a group of timber houses in Irwin Street, central Perth.

1915
AMP Chambers

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.

1917
Trans-Australia Railway

The Trans-Australia railway from Port Augusta to Kalgoorlie is opened.

1920
Royal Visit - His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales

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.

1923
Perth General Post Office

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.

1923
First Buses

One of the first buses in Perth ran from St Georges Terrace to North Perth.  The fare was three pence.

1924
First Radio Broadcast

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.

1925
UWA moves to Crawley

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).

1927
Royal Visit - Duke and Duchess of York

The Duke and Duchess of York visit Perth, as guests of Governor Campion. They were later to become King George VI and Queen Elizabeth.

1928
Trans-Australian Flight

Charles Kingsford Smith and Charles Ulm fly into Perth in the first non stop trans- Australian Flight.

Charles Kingsford-Smith speaks into 6WF microphone on his arrival in Perth on 12 August 1928

1929
Western Australia celebrates its Centenary

1932
Winthrop Hall

Winthrop Hall was opened at the University of Western Australia.

1933
Secession Referendum

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.

1934
Royal visit - His Royal Highness The Duke of Gloucester

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.

1936
CMLA Building

The Colonial Mutual Life Assurance Building was built in 1936 and demolished in the 1970s.

1946
Aboriginal Industrial Action

At least 800 Aboriginal pastoral workers walk off the job in Northwest Western Australia, starting one of the longest industrial strikes in Australia.

1952
Lang Hancock discovers iron ore in the Pilbara

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.”

1954
Royal Visit – Her Majesty The Queen and His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh

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.

1958
Royal Visit - Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother

In March 1958 the Queen Mother arrived in Perth and 100,000 people lined the route from the airport to Government House.

1959
Narrows Bridge

Narrows Bridge opens, connecting Perth’s northern and southern suburbs.

1960
Building Height

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.

1962
Royal Visit – His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh

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
British Empire & Commonwealth Games held at Perry Lakes Stadium

1962 saw the opening of the Perry Lakes Stadium, which was the venue for many sports until it was demolished in 2009.

1963
Royal Visit – Her Majesty The Queen and His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh

During this visit to Australia, Her Majesty made a unique broadcast to people in remote communities over the Flying Doctor network in Alice Springs.

1964
The last man to hang in Western Australia

Eric Edgar Cook, a convicted murderer, was the last person to be hanged at Fremantle Prison on 26 October 1964.

1966
Royal Visit – Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother

1968
Meckering earthquake

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.

1969
The Coat of Arms of the State of Western Australia

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.

1971
Royal Visit – His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh

1972
Royal Visit – Her Royal Highness Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon and the Earl of Snowdon

1975
Royal Visit – Her Royal Highness The Princess Anne and Captain Mark Phillips

1977
Royal Visit – Her Majesty The Queen and His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh

During the Queen’s Silver Jubilee celebrations in 1977, Her Majesty visited every State and Territory in Australia during a three week tour.

1977
Royal Visit – His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales

1979
Royal Visit – His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales

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.

1979
Royal Visit – His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh

1979
Royal Visit – Her Royal Highness The Princess Anne

1979
Western Australia’s 150th anniversary

1981
Royal Visit – Her Majesty The Queen and His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh


1983
Royal Visit – Their Royal Highnesses The Prince and Princess of Wales

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.


1983
America’s Cup Victory

Australians spent the night of 26 September 1983 watching the crucial race on television. 

1987
Royal Visit – Her Royal Highness The Princess Anne

Princess Anne visited Western Australia during February 1987 to attend the America’s Cup programme.


1988
Royal Visit – Her Majesty The Queen and His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh

Her Majesty and His Royal Highness took part in Australia’s bicentenary celebration travelling extensively across the nation.

1988
Royal Visit – Their Royal Highnesses The Duke and Duchess of York

1990
Royal Visit – His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh

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.

1992
Opening of the Joondalup rail line

The line to Joondalup was completed on 20 December 1992, involving a realignment of the entire bus system, which saw train stations become interchanges.

1993
Launch of Endeavour Replica

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.

1994
Royal Visit – His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales

1997
Royal Visit – His Royal Highness the Prince of Orange

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.

1998
Mikhail Gorbachev visits Australia

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.

2000
Royal Visit – Her Majesty The Queen and His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh

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.

2000
Royal Visit – Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal

Princess Anne visited Western Australia on 6 and 7 July 2000 in connection with the Australian Olympic Committee and the British Olympic Association.

2002
Royal Visit – His Royal Highness The Earl of Wessex

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.

2004
175th Anniversary of the founding of Western Australia

2005
Royal Visit - His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales

His Royal Highness, Prince Charles, visited Western Australia from 28 February to 2 March 2005.

28 – 30 October 2011
CHOGM

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.

2011
Royal Visit - Her Majesty The Queen and His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh

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.

2013
Royal Visit - His Royal Highness Prince Henry of Wales

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.

Population
in Perth
4,001

Population
in Perth
6,293

Population
in Perth
8,220

Population
in Perth
9,955

Population
in Perth
16,694

Population
in Perth
67,431

Population
in Perth
116,181

Population
in Perth
170,213

Population
in Perth
230,340

Population
in Perth
302,968

Population
in Perth
395,049

Population
in Perth
475,398

Population
in Perth
559,298

Population
in Perth
703,199

Population
in Perth
805,747

Population
in Perth
898,918

Population
in Perth
994,472

Population
in Perth
1,143,249

Population
in Perth
1,244,320

Population
in Perth
1,339,993

Population
in Perth
1,445,079

Population
in Perth
1,546,617

1890 - Premier of WA
Rt Hon Sir John Forrest (later Lord) PC GCMG

1890 December 29 to
1901 February 14

1901 - Premier of WA
Hon George Throssell CMG

1901 February 15 to 1901 May 27

1901 - Premier of WA
Hon George Leake KC CMG

1901 May 27 to 1901 November 21 and
1901 23 December to 1902 June 24

1901 - Premier of WA
Hon Alfred Edward Morgans

1901 November 21 to 1901 December 23

1902 - Premier of WA
Hon Sir Walter H James
KC KCMG

1902 July 1 to
1904 August 25

1904 - Premier of WA
Hon Henry Daglish

1904 August 10 to 1905 August 25

1905 - Premier of WA
Hon Sir Cornwaite H Rason

1905 August 25 to 1906 May 7

1906 - Premier of WA
Hon Sir Newton J Moore KCMG

1906 May 7 to 1910 September 16

1910 - Premier of WA
Hon Frank Wilson CMG

1910 September 16 to 1911 October 7

1911 - Premier of WA
Hon John Scaddan CMG

1911 October 7 to 1916 July 27

1916 - Premier of WA
Hon Frank Wilson CMG

1916 July 27 to 1917 June 28

1917 - Premier of WA
Hon Sir Henry B Lefroy KCMG

1917 June 28 to 1919 April 17

1919 - Premier of WA
Hon Sir Hal P Colebatch CMG

1919 April 17 to 1919 May 17

1919 - Premier of WA
Hon Sir James Mitchell GCMG

1919 May 17 to 1924 April 15

1924 - Premier of WA
Hon Philip Collier

1924 April 16 to 
1930 April 23

1930 - Premier of WA
Hon Sir James Mitchell GCMG

1930 April 24 to 
1933 April 24

1933 - Premier of WA
Hon Philip Collier

1933 April 24 to 
1936 August 19

1936 - Premier of WA
Hon John Collings Willcock

1936 August 20 to 1945 July 31

1945 - Premier of WA
Hon Frank J S Wise AO

1945 July 31 to 1947 April 1

1947 - Premier of WA
Hon Sir Ross McLarty KBE MM

1947 April 1 to 1953 February 23

1953 - Premier of WA
Hon Albert R G Hawke

1953 February 23 to 1959 April 2

1959 - Premier of WA
Hon Sir David Brand KCMG

1959 April 2 to 
1971 March 3

1971 - Premier of WA
Hon John Trezise Tonkin AC

1971 March 3 to 1974 April 8

1974 - Premier of WA
Hon Sir Charles W M Court
AK KCMG OBE

1974 April 8 to 
1982 January 25

1982 - Premier of WA
Hon Raymond James O'Connor

1982 January 25 to 1983 February 19

1983 - Premier of WA
Hon Brian Thomas Burke JP

1983 February 19 to 
1988 February 25

1988 - Premier of WA
Hon Peter M’Callum Dowding LLB JP

1988 February 25 to 
1990 February 12

1990 - Premier of WA
Hon Carmen Mary Lawrence BPsych PhD

1990 February 12 to 1993 February 6

1993 - Premier of WA
Hon Richard Fairfax Court BCom

1993 February 6 to 2001 February 10

2001 - Premier of WA
Hon Geoffrey Ian Gallop DPhil

2001 February 10 to 
2006 January 16

2006 - Premier of WA
Hon Alan John Carpenter BA

2006 January 25 to 
2008 September 6

2008 - Premier of WA
Hon Colin James Barnett
BEc (Hons) MEc

2008 September 6
to present