Wednesday, 28 March 2018
Boothby Electorate: Old Government House
Occasionally, as a member of parliament, you get to participate in a particularly special and historic event. This was the case for me on 15 March when I joined the Governor of South Australia, His Excellency the Hon. Hieu Van Le AC; his wife, Mrs Le; the Mayor of the City of Mitcham, Glenn Spear; Mayoress Tracey Spear; my state colleague Sam Duluk MP, the local member; and the wonderful volunteers of the Friends of Old Government House and the Friends of Belair National Park for a tour of Old Government House in the heart of Belair National Park in my electorate.
Our tour of Old Government House, which was once the summer residence of South Australian governors in the early years of South Australian settlement, included a tour of the house, the servants' quarters and the gardens. The reason this was a particularly special and historic event is that His Excellency is only the third governor to visit the former vice-regal summer residence since it ceased to be the formal summer residence of governors. The house was used by South Australian governors between 1860 and 1880 to escape the vicious summer heat on the Adelaide plains. It comes complete with an indoor pool, which is rumoured to be one of the very first indoor pools in Australia, so it's quite a special building. The Victorian-style building was fully restored during the 1970s and upgraded again in 2001, and it represents a significant period of South Australia's history. There is a collection of original and donated antiques throughout the house that are used to illustrate the history of the house, the residents and those who holidayed there in the late 19th century. The gardens surrounding the residence are approximately one acre and have been thoughtfully redesigned to complement the building. When the site was used as the vice-regal summer residence, of course, the garden was natural bushland surrounded by a simple post-and-rail fence.
I wish to acknowledge all of the incredible volunteers who helped to mark the visit by His Excellency and Mrs Le by working to ensure that the house and gardens were absolutely immaculate and impeccably presented and who also joined us for morning tea. The Governor remarked to the guests and the volunteers that the residence had been so well maintained that he might have to consider returning for an overnight stay. I'm not sure that Mrs Le was quite so keen on the idea—nor would I be, might I say. This is testament to the hard work of all the volunteers who contribute so much to our community.
I want to thank the Friends of Old Government House, who not only play a vital role in maintaining this historic site but also conduct tours for tourists and the general public for a small, gold coin donation and have a wealth of knowledge about the site, the broader area and our state history to share. In particular, I would like to acknowledge president Dene Cordes, vice-president Wayne Gallasch, and Tina Gallasch; all of the Friends of Old Government House; and the committee members and volunteers.
I would like to acknowledge another of my wonderful community groups, the Friends of Belair National Park, who do so much to help care for the Belair National Park and also the beautiful gardens of Old Government House. They were instrumental in helping to do a lot of gardening before the Governor's recent visit to Old Government House. The Friends of Belair National Park do all sorts of work throughout the park, from weeding and bushland protection to hosting visitors and letting people know about the wonderful flora and fauna we have right in the heart of Adelaide. I particularly thank president Mark Pedlar, vice-president Mike Cerchez and treasurer Carol Parrott, and the Friends of Belair National Park committee and volunteers for their ongoing commitment to this beautiful landmark.
I would also like to acknowledge the incredibly hard work of the Department for Environment and Water and Natural Resources staff, and all that they do to care for the park and to support the volunteers. The National Parks staff do go above and beyond in helping our volunteers, and they are always in attendance at Friends of Belair National Park meetings or Friends of Old Government House meetings, anniversary celebrations and significant events, most of which are usually after hours on weekends or at night. So I really do want to acknowledge the wonderful staff. I think their dedication is in part because Belair National Park is such a remarkable natural resource. It is the second-oldest national park in Australia—it's 127 years old. I'm very proud to have this wonderful natural resource right in the heart of my electorate.
Question agreed to.
Federation Chamber adjourned at 16:36