Trying to figure out the oldest building can be a bit tough as early settlements were hardly organized, and for all you know the remains of an early shipwreck or local homestead is there from the very beginning. That being said, there are definitely some buildings that are clearly and verifiably among Australia’s oldest and each has an interesting bit of history behind it. Read on to learn more about the oldest Aussie buildings and why each one is worth a visit!
Oldest Public Building: Old Government House at Parramatta
The Old Government House at Parramatta is the oldest government building in Australia that is still standing. A tourist spot today as opposed to an official place of government business, it overlooks 200 acres of parkland. This served as the residence of 10 early Australian governors with the original base of the house completed in 1799 and the major upgrade and extensions to create the look that is known today completed in 1815. This would serve as a public building for over 70 years and today is carefully preserved while maintenance work is done to maintain the appearance and keep it as authentic as possible. A living testament to early Australian colonial history. Learn more about this place.
Sometimes Claims The Title…But An Imposter: Cook’s Cottage
Sometimes someone will make a claim that Cook’s Cottage is the oldest building in Australia. While Cook’s Cottage is certainly impressive in its age, there’s no reasonable argument that an be made putting it as the oldest building. This is a nice small cottage that has stood for over a couple centuries and is an easy stone’s throw of a visit from Fitzroy Gardens in Melbourne. Worth a look to see where the famous Captain Cook resided, and certainly an impressive little historic site, it’s very old by Australian standards but isn’t going to hold up compared to the Old Government House at Parramatta or Wiebbe Haye’s Fort. For more details about Cook’s Cottage; visit: https://whatson.melbourne.vic.gov.au/PlacesToGo/CooksCottage/Pages/CooksCottage.aspx
The Oldest Australian Building Period: Wiebbe Hayes’ Fort
The winner for the oldest known European building in all of Australia is actually located on West Wallabi Island, which is part of the Houtman-Abrohlos archipelago. This is a building that wasn’t built because it was planned out, but came out of necessity from a part of Australian history that locals, and history buffs, will know well! This is because the Wiebbe Hayes’ Fort was a direct result of the infamous Batavia shipwreck that took place in 1629.
There was a large mutiny that led to a lot of fighting and mass murder. While the conflicts were taking place over multiple islands, Wiebbe Hayes rounded up the men by him and they built a fort specifically for their own protection. There’s not much left here – mostly remnants of fort walls and a basic structure, but this fort pre-dated actual planned settlements in Australia by over 150 years. While it isn’t really possible to get up close, there are some local air charters that are willing to fly you over it for a scenic tour and a bit of local flavor added to the history lesson.
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