OFFICIAL RESIDENCE - KONEDOBU, PORT MORESBY
A brief history of Government House, Port Moresby
Government House Port Moresby early 1900s
before Australia took administration of British
New Guinea and changed its name to Papua.
Government House the official residence of the Governors-General of Papua New Guinea holds a very rich history that reaches as far back as the 1800’s when the British colonizers first arrived in this part of the country. Here in Konedobu, they established their headquarters, including Government House.
The site for Government House was chosen by Sir Peter Scratchely, Special Commissioner for the Protectorate of British New Guinea, who arrived in Port Moresby on 28th August 1885. Government House has occupied this site ever since. The first Government House was the result of house construction methods adopted in tropical Australia at the time. The materials for the first House were purchased by Sir Peter Scratchley, on his way up to Queensland coast from the firm of Rooney Brothers in Townsville. An employee of Rooney’s later came to Port Moresby to erect the building on this site. It was occupied in 1886.
In 1913, Sir Hubert Murray, K.C.M.G who was acting administrator of the then Territory of Papua and later as Lieutenant General from 1909 to 1940, took the task of building a new House which superseded the original one. It was built within four months at a cost of 1,698 pounds. The design is that of a typical north Queensland station homestead, with a central living room, French door bedrooms opening into it and a wide verandah completely encircling the house. Sir Murray spent 37 years of his long reign here at Government House along with his wife Mrs. Murray and their children.
Many a dramatic and historical event took place here. Below the valley is where the original barracks of the Royal Papuan Constabulary had once stood and where the American Army had built offices when Government House had been General McArthur’s Headquarters. In front of the old House stood a flagpole where Lieutenant Governor Robinson shot himself after he was criticized for the way he handled the massacres of two missionaries, James Chalmers and Olive Thomkins. Both men were cooked and eaten at Goaribari Island of Gulf Province in 1901.