ACT News


Sticky beaks and noisy squawks at open day

The Governor-General may be the head of the household but at Government House it's the cockatoos who rule the roost.

The gaggle of gang-gangs and the swarm of sulphur-crested cockatoos were out in force during the Government House open day on Sunday, the annual fund-raiser for the Smith Family.

By the time Her Excellency Quentin Bryce set about conducting guided tours of her home and grounds for visitors, her feathered friends were enjoying the day in a similar fashion to the Australian Federal Police officers on duty - relaxing in the native gardens and keeping a watchful eye over the numerous food stalls serving everything from Devonshire teas to gozleme.

However, before the gates opened the resident cockys had organisers worried with their loud and obnoxious behaviour.

Smith Family regional manager Pierina Lucchesi, hosting a VIP breakfast function, said she was distracted yet delighted by their company.

"You couldn't hear yourself think,'' she said. ''I had to yell down the table as they were all singing so loudly. It was so funny but very beautiful."

Before a scheduled aerobatic flyover by the Air Force Roulettes, one lone cockatoo began skylarking and drew the crowd's attention skyward. It was a welcomed distraction for the long line of people who had queued for more than 30 minutes to get a peek inside the waterfront mansion. "I just want to have a good old fashion gawk, really. It's just like a regular open home, just with more rooms," said Catherine Sainsbury, of Chifley.

Last year more than 6500 people streamed through the gates on open day. The organisers were confident the attendance figures were just as high on Sunday.