The Lodge (Australia)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
The Lodge
The Lodge Canberra.jpg
The Lodge in 2010
General information
Type House
Architectural style Georgian Revival
Location Deakin, Australian Capital Territory
Coordinates 35°18′39″S 149°07′00″E / 35.310818°S 149.116547°E / -35.310818; 149.116547Coordinates: 35°18′39″S 149°07′00″E / 35.310818°S 149.116547°E / -35.310818; 149.116547
Construction started 1927
Governing body Australian Government
Other dimensions 18,000 m2 (190,000 sq ft) (size of land)
Design and construction
Architect Oakley & Parkes
The sign on the front exterior wall of The Lodge

The Lodge is the official residence of the Prime Minister of Australia in the national capital, Canberra. It is located at 5 Adelaide Avenue, Deakin. It is one of two official prime-ministerial residences, the other being Kirribilli House in Sydney.


The Lodge is a 40-room Georgian revival style mansion, located on 18,000 square metres (4.4 acres) of landscaped grounds. The origin of its name is unknown. It was built as a temporary measure, to be occupied by whoever was the Prime Minister "until such time as a monumental Prime Minister's residence is constructed, and thereafter to be used for other purposes". The Lodge was built over the period 1926–1927 at a cost of £28,319. The architects were Percy A. Oakley and Stanley T. Parkes of Melbourne; the builder was J.G. Taylor of Sydney. Ruth Lane Poole of Melbourne was responsible for interior design and furnishing, as she had been for the Governor-General's residence, Government House. The Lodge was intended as one of a set of three official residences, the others to be for the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President (speaker) of the Senate, but the others were never built.[1][2][3][4][5]

The Lodge in 1950

The first Prime Minister to live in The Lodge was Stanley Bruce. He and his wife Ethel (they had no children) moved in on 4 May 1927, five days before the official opening of the then Parliament House on 9 May.[2] When he was Leader of the Opposition, Bruce's successor James Scullin (1929–32) had objected to the cost of running The Lodge and, true to his word, he and his wife lived at the Hotel Canberra (now the Hyatt Hotel) during his Prime Ministership. However the next Prime Minister Joseph Lyons chose The Lodge, and all subsequent Prime Ministers have used it as their primary place of residence, except for:

  • Ben Chifley (1945–49), who preferred the Hotel Kurrajong, where many Labor politicians of the era stayed, and where he later died.[6][7]
  • John Howard (1996–2007), who stayed at The Lodge when he was in Canberra for parliamentary or government business, but lived primarily at Kirribilli House, Sydney. The latter is a residence maintained for the official use of Prime Ministers when they need to perform official duties and extend official hospitality in Sydney.

When Julia Gillard became Prime Minister on 24 June 2010 after the parliamentary Labor Party decided to replace Kevin Rudd as leader,[8] she declared that she would not move into The Lodge until she had "fulsomely earned the trust of the Australian people to be prime minister" at an election;[9] instead, she remained living in her home in Altona in Melbourne and her flat in Canberra. Following the 2010 election at which Gillard led her party into minority government, she moved into The Lodge on 26 September 2010.[10] Of the three Australian Prime Ministers who have died in office, the only one to die at The Lodge was John Curtin in 1945.[11]


The building's interior has an American Colonial character, with stained wall panelling and exposed upper floor beams under the ceiling. The ground floor entrance opens into an entrance hall. To the left of the entrance is the dining room and service wing, which includes staff quarters. To its right are the formal reception rooms- a drawing room, study, and sitting room/library (originally intended as billiards room). The staircase rises to a landing which contains office space for the Prime Minister's spouse, then divides into two flights leading to a hall opening onto a loggia above the entrance. On the first floor are the private apartments and guest accommodation, consisting of a study, six bedrooms, sitting room, a drawing room, and a billiards/games room.

When Robert Menzies became Prime Minister in 1939, his family moved into The Lodge. Pattie Menzies undertook a thorough makeover of the residence. First, the makeshift children’s bedrooms on the front balcony, built for the large Lyons family, were removed. Worn carpets and furnishings were replaced and kerosene heaters installed.

The Lodge also underwent some heavy renovation in the 1960s. When Harold Holt was in office, his wife Zara Holt had a major makeover of the Lodge. All the curtains were discarded, and all the carpets ripped up. The floors were recovered with a dramatic emerald green carpet. The tall arched windows of the entrance were draped with crisp white curtains. A flagpole flying the Australian flag was installed on the staircase landing. Most controversial of all was the extensive work needed to transform the dark varnished Tasmanian mountain ash panelling of the walls of all three rooms. Once the stripping was completed, the walls were coated with a white gloss paint. These bright walls remained the backdrop of formal photographs at The Lodge for the next five prime ministers.

The Lodge, soon after completion in 1927.

When Prime Minister John Gorton moved in, Bettina Gorton's practical abilities in farm repairs were soon called on to deal with maintenance issues resulting from some of Zara Holt’s more impractical decorating achievements. Repairs to a leaking ceiling that threatened the silk wallpaper in the ‘Swan Suite’, and toning down some of the more vibrant colours in furnishings and finishes, were among the work she had done. But Bettina Gorton’s lasting imprint on The Lodge was in the grounds. During the Gortons' tenure, a wall was built surrounding The Lodge, both as a security measure and to give some privacy from the encroaching traffic of Adelaide Avenue on the eastern side of the residence. Once the wall was completed, Bettina Gorton developed a garden of Australian native plants. The Gortons also installed a swimming pool and a courtyard in the north east corner of the grounds.

The Lyons family in the 1930s on the lawn of The Lodge.

Major work was also carried out in 1977–78 to upgrade the kitchen and staff quarters and to extend the main dining room. The Frasers occupied The Lodge nine years after Zara Holt’s refurbishment, and they found the house drab and unwelcoming. The once-glamorous wallpaper was peeling from the guestroom ceiling, and numerous cracks had appeared in the bathroom walls. Tamie Fraser thought the layout of the house was inefficient, the service area inadequate and, like every occupant since 1927, found the dining room too small for adequate official entertaining. Among the visitors entertained at The Lodge by the Frasers were the Prince of Wales, and then the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh in 1977.

The first task Tamie Fraser undertook was to supplement the surviving settings of the 1927 white and gold Royal Doulton dinner service. It had a special pattern that had been designed by Ruth Lane Poole in 1926 featuring the Prime Ministerial Monogram. The Monogram (consisting of the interwoven letters 'P' and 'M'), also appears carved into the backs of the dining room chairs. Interestingly, the man who handled Tamie Fraser’s order in 1977 had arranged for the manufacture of the original set fifty years earlier. Though this expensive purchase created a furore, it did not deter Tamie Fraser from battling to secure major renovations of the service wing and dining room in 1978. She chose architect Guilford Bell to oversee this remodelling and to redecorate the main rooms. Ten years after Zara Holt imposed her extravagant decorating scheme on The Lodge, Tamie Fraser returned the main reception rooms to ‘classic colours and style’, with cream painted walls and a white Berber carpet.

Hazel Hawke at The Lodge's original Australian-made Beale piano, which she found and restored during her time in The Lodge.

There was substantial restoration in the 1980s when Bob Hawke was Prime Minister. The most notable feature of the work done by Hawke's wife Hazel during her eight years at The Lodge was her work for The Australiana Fund and in her sympathetic restoration of the building’s interior. The Australiana Fund, started by Tamie Fraser, used donations to collect Australian art and furniture for the four official residences – Government House and The Lodge in Canberra, and Admiralty House and Kirribilli House in Sydney. Hazel Hawke was known for continuing this collection by finding and arranging for the restoration of The Lodge’s original Australian-made Beale piano.[12] The piano, chosen for The Lodge by Ruth Lane Poole so that it fitted the original designs for the drawing room, had been used in the Canberra School of Music as a practice piano after it had been removed from The Lodge.[13] Hawke also fitted out a room on the mezzanine landing of The Lodge as her office, which she remembered as her favourite room where she spent most of her time.

When the Keatings moved into The Lodge in 1991, they made some changes to the furnishings, moving the massive William Rojo bookcase provided by the Australiana Fund into storage and providing the 'Brown Room' with new sofas. Unlike many of the earlier prime ministerial families, the Keatings preferred to treat The Lodge as a family home and did not often entertain official visitors there.

Although the Howards generally stayed at Kirribilli House in Sydney, this did not prevent them from improving The Lodge. From 2000 to 2005, the reception areas of the residence were progressively refurbished with the assistance of interior designer Mary Durack. The two main reception rooms, the Morning Room and the Drawing Room, were redecorated in a complementary theme rather than as two distinctive areas, as was previously the case. The dining room and the foyer were also refurbished.

Howard's successor Kevin Rudd returned to tradition by living at The Lodge. Rudd's successor Julia Gillard has also continued the tradition, residing permanently at The Lodge.

In October 2011 the Department of Finance and Deregulation announced refurbishment and repair work is required for The Lodge which is estimated will take 18 months to complete. Works considered as necessary and urgent include: roof, insulation, guttering, plumbing, removing hazardous material, heating and cooling, complete electrical rewiring, and replacing the Australian Federal Police guard houses.[14] In an interview with ABC News, Special Minister of State Gary Gray said the total cost would run into the millions of dollars.[15]

In 2013, after Kevin Rudd replaced Julia Gillard as PM, he led Labor to the 2013 federal election which resulted in Coalition leader Tony Abbott becoming Prime Minister. Abbott will not move into the Lodge until the renovations have been completed; in the interim, he will reside at the Australian Federal Police college when he is in the capital.[16]


The Lodge maintains high security around the residence. The residence has many security features in protecting the Prime Minister and his or her family, including the use of many security cameras, biometric security, high fences, shatter-proof windows, and a safe room.[17]



  1. ^ The Lodge, official website of the Prime Minister of Australia (former PM Kevin Rudd, archived). Retrieved 30 March 2011.
  2. ^ a b National Archives of Australia. Retrieved 30 March 2011
  3. ^ Letter from Oakley & Parkes, 13 May 1925 Retrieved 30 March 2011
  4. ^ Letter from Oakley & Parkes, 14 May 1926. Retrieved 30 March 2011
  5. ^ Ruth Lane Poole Retrieved 30 March 2011
  6. ^ Ben Chifley, Kurrajong Hotel official website
  7. ^ Hotel Kurrajong, National Trust of Australia
  8. ^ Curtis, L.; Hall, E. (24 June 2010). "Gillard becomes first female PM". ABC News. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 13 October 2010. 
  9. ^ Levy, M. (24 June 2010). "Labor Party was losing its way under Rudd: Gillard". (Brisbane Times). Retrieved 13 October 2010. 
  10. ^ "Gillard moves into The Lodge". (Sydney Morning Herald). 26 September 2010. Retrieved 13 October 2010. 
  11. ^ ABC Ballarat
  12. ^ National Archives of Australia, "Australia's Prime Ministers – Meet a PM – Hawke – Hazel Hawke". Accessed 19 August 2008.
  13. ^ Australian Broadcasting Corporation, "Stateline Canberra – Transcript: Ruth Lane Poole", 11 March 2005. Accessed 19 August 2008.
  14. ^ "The Lodge, Canberra – Refurbishment Works". Department of Finance and Deregulation. 11 October 2011. Retrieved 12 October 2011. 
  15. ^ Jeremy Thompson (11 October 2011). "Gillard, Mathieson to leave run-down Lodge". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 11 October 2011. 
  16. ^ "Tony Abbott moves into the Prime Minister's office in Canberra". News Corp Australia Network. 15 September 2013. 
  17. ^ Welch, Dylan (26 June 2010). "Security experts push for Lodge move". The Age (Melbourne). 
  • Holt, Zara. My Life and Harry: an Autobiography (Melbourne: The Herald, 1968)
  • National Archives of Australia: Prime Minister's Lodge-Renovations and Maintenance 1966–1968, NAA:A4 63/32, 1966/952

External links[edit]