Designed by William Guilfoyle, curator of the Royal Botanic Gardens, the Japanese Garden was opened in 1902, and was set out around an existing ornamental lake in the Treasury Gardens. The backdrop of the garden, as seen in this photograph, was the imposing State Government Offices in Treasury Place.
The Japanese Garden, which was enclosed within a fence, contained a small pavilion (referred to in contemporary newspaper reports as a teahouse), a small bridge, and Japanese plants, including Japanese cherry with its distinct and beautiful blossom. A feature of the lake was its goldfish; their numbers sometimes depleted due to birdlife in the park.
By the inter-war years the Japanese Garden was a popular attraction with the citizens of Melbourne. A change in sentiments, possibly attributed to the events of World War II, led to the garden’s neglect and demise. Sadly, the Japanese Garden was cleared in 1948 in preparation of this portion of the park becoming an amphitheatre for music performances. The amphitheatre (Sidney Myer Music Bowl) was instead built in the Kings Domain.
The site of the former Japanese Garden is once again an ornamental lake, and adjacent to this is the John F Kennedy Memorial. The lake still remains a popular and valued part of the Treasury Gardens, and provides a fine setting for the grand government buildings in Treasury Place.
Source of Photograph: State Library of Victoria Picture Collection