The Government House site is one of the key heritage places in Western Australia for a number of reasons. Not the least of which is the fact it has been in continuous occupation as the principal vice regal residence in Western Australia since the foundation of the capital in 1829. The House and Grounds in the colonial period were the centre of social life, the administrative centre including for a brief time as a meeting place for the Legislative Council. Today the grounds continue to be used for prestigious State and community functions.
The grounds were the site for the first government garden in Perth; it was here the colonial botanist James Drummond established plots for growing introduced plant species for introduction to the fledgling colony and eventual distribution to the settlers. The present layout of the grounds dates largely from 1850’s and 1860’s when the ‘new’ House was constructed. The lower gardens date back to 1880’s and 1890’s when the river still lapped the lower boundary of the site along the line of the present lake. The present boundary was established in 1904 with the reclamation of the river foreshore.
The Government House Gardens share heritage listing with the House, and appropriately a Conservation Plan was completed in 1995 by Oline Richards AAILA MPHR, followed by her Management Plan in 1996, and finally a Master Plan completed in 1999 by Philip Griffiths of Considine and Griffiths Architects Pty Ltd.
The gardens today comprise 3.2 hectares in the Arcadian landscape style used by the English in the 18th and 19th centuries. There are some excellent original plantings in the grounds and a mixture of exotic and native species.
Since the 1960’s, successive Governors have regularly opened the gardens to the public, and the tradition not only continues but has increased in frequency.