Admiralty House is the official Sydney residence of the Governor General of Australia (affectionately referred to as the GG). The GG’s primary residence is Government House in Canberra. The GG is Australia’s Head of State – Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth IIs representative in Australia.
Apart from a few hours once a year (and not every year) the imposing sandstone Admiralty House is not open to the public so the best way to see it is from a boat on the harbour. While all harbour cruises passing point it out, you will get an equally good view of Admiralty House from the public ferry to Manly or Toronga Zoo.
To help you locate it from the public ferry, the house is up on the hill at the end of Kirribilli Point, off to your left on the North Shore, a couple of minutes after you depart Circular Quay.
Rather ironically, given its current use, one of the first European’s to own the land on which the house is situated was Thomas Muir, a political prisoner and one of the five celebrated “Scottish Martyrs” (read Scottish separatist/republican) who was deported from Britain for sedition. As a political prisoner he was deemed an exile rather than a convict so was granted land on arrival in Australia in 1794.
Muir’s exile status came with fewer restrictions on his movement than that of a convict. He escaped from the colony in 1796 never to return. Muir’s land then had various owners before Colonel Gibbs (Collector of Customs and member of the NSW State Government) bought it and built a single story stone house which he called ‘Watonga’ thereon in 1843. It later became the home of the Admiral of the British Royal Navy’s Australian Squadron and was renamed Admiralty House. The second story and the colonnades, clearly visible from the Harbour, were added at this time.
In 1913 Admiralty House became the Sydney Residence of the Governor General of Australia. In addition to being the GGs residence, it is where many visiting heads of state and similar stay when they visit Sydney.
Address: Kirribilli Point
Directions: Best seen from the Harbour