The Governor of Queensland, His Excellency the Honourable Paul de Jersey AC, caught up with me this weekend at his place to mark the 150th anniversary of his official residence “Fernberg”, Queensland’s Government House. It was a gorgeous sunny Queensland Day with a relaxing coffee and lamingtons (they were invented at Fernberg) on the lawns making it extra special.
I last attended a Government function here 20 years ago as guest of then Governor of Queensland, Mrs Leneen Forde AC, who was only the second female governor of an Australian state and the first in Queensland. Her father-in-law was Frank Forde, the shortest serving Prime Minister in Australia’s history, holding office for just eight days in the 1940s.
My connection with state governors goes back 39 years when I scored the very first official basket at the Toowoomba Basketball Stadium, in front of the then Governor, Sir Colin Thomas Hannah KCMG KCVO KBE CB, who had just declared the stadium open.
But then again, my family is no stranger to performing in front of vice-regals. The first Governor of Queensland, Sir George Ferguson Bowen GCMG, in 1865 the same year that Government House was built, witnessed my uncle’s great-grandfather as fireman aboard the colony’s very first passenger train.
Co-incidentally, my uncle’s 19th great-grandfather Robert the Bruce, King of Scotland, adorns the magnificent stained glass window over the main stairway of Fernberg.