I'm a freelance writer based in Perth, Western Australia, who enjoys writing about the things I love: travel, nature-based activities, the arts, spirituality and creative, fun activities for children.
Published October 12th 2014
A Lush Tranquil Oasis In The Heart Of Perth City
Open to the public for just two hours at a day, three times a week, Perth's Government House Gardens would have to be one of our city's best-kept secrets. A lush green oasis amidst the noise and frantic activity of down-town Perth, they comprise 3.2 hectares of classic English landscape garden surrounding Western Australia's stately vice-regal residence. Although I'd admired the gardens from afar for years as I would walk along St George's Terrace, the gates would always be locked and I'd invariably leave disappointed. However, last week I was fortunate to be in the 'right place at the right time', and to finally have the opportunity to look more closely at this beautiful place which is also one of the state's most significant historical sites.
Surrounded by high-rise buildings and bordered by busy St George's Terrace, it's hard to believe that the the gardens were once situated on a peaceful spot by the banks of the Swan River. However, once you pass through the gates and leave the chaos of the city far behind, you'll discover a tranquil little-known paradise where it's possible to unwind and connect with nature during your lunch break. The fact that the gardens are only open to the public for six hours a week make them even more exclusive and enticing. With this in mind, it's hardly surprising that many lifelong Perth residents have never visited.
With their present layout dating back to the 1850's and 1860's, throughout the colonial period Government House Gardens and the impressive residence they surround, were the centre of Western Australia's social life. Constructed in the Arcadian landscape style, popular in English and colonial estates during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the gardens offer a great diversity of features including wide grassy expanses dotted with shady European trees, a formal and fragrant rose garden, winding paths, trellised arbours, a picturesque bridge crossing a small artificial creek and a wide variety of plant species both native and exotic. Built on two levels connected by stone staircase, the lower part of the gardens is dominated by a large pond surrounded by lush foliage and beautified by three dramatic water fountains.
If you're looking for somewhere to take a brood of noisy children during the school holidays, Government House Gardens probably wouldn't be the best choice. There is no playground equipment and if your kids aren't the imaginative type or into independent exploring they may get bored quickly. However, if you love history and classic English garden design, or simply crave to escape into nature during your lunch break then this is a place that you'll love. It's also a great spot for a picnic lunch, although there are no tables and benches.
Perth's Government House Gardens are situated at 17 St George's Terrace, and are open every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, from 12.00 noon to 2.00pm. The gardens are also a popular venue for wedding photographs, although you'll need to book at least four weeks in advance. From time to time, other public events are also held there. To find out more, take a look at the Government House website.