In researching the establishment of these Chinese Gardens I came across some of the consultation documents when the public was asked to comment on the gardens being built within Lennox Gardens.
There were objections from individual heritage lobbyists who complained that if the ACT Government was to go ahead with the Chinese Gardens, it would completely wreck the popular heritage site, being Lennox Gardens.
I went down for a visit last month and can report that the Beijing Gardens are a success story and the Lennox Gardens’ facilities have indeed survived.
The ACT Government was spot on in allowing the Beijing Gardens to be established in this quiet corner by the lake. The lobbyists were totally wrong.
The Lennox Gardens are on the side of the lake behind the Hyatt Hotel. The Chinese Gardens, opened in late 2014, are to the left of the main Lennox Gardens and face onto a corner of the lake, known as Lotus Bay. Till recently a visit to this area was difficult during the week due to the street parking being taken by workers who parked in the unlimited free parking and then walked to their place of work. Now there is timed paid parking, so there are heaps of parking spots on the street.
It was a cool day in May and the trees had lost most of their leaves. There were loads of seagulls –few humans. The air was cold. There were some clouds about and there was that famous Canberra blue sky. It was a good day for a quiet visit and a slow roam about the gardens and adjacent parklands. It was very peaceful.
I have visited several styles of Chinese Gardens including the wonderful ones in Darling Harbour in Sydney. Canberra’s Beijing Gardens are the more open type with objects and pavilions positioned with generous spaces in between each item. There are a series of curved pathways joining the whole thing. The stated purpose is to provide a space for contemplation. I sense that this may be possible although on this cold day the marble benches did not encourage being stationary for too long.
The Beijing Municipal Government made a gift of the gardens to the City of Canberra. Workers from China were brought out to do the construction. It is a formal garden designed in the Imperial Chinese Garden Style of the Qing Dynasty, 1644-1912. (I got that from a plaque at the entrance).
The view from the Beijing Gardens is a little restricted being across to Lotus Bay towards the moored yachts alongside the yacht club. If you want more panoramic views of the lake, then just wander up the slope to the main Lennox Gardens. Here you will find several more special monuments, including one to honour the Australians who went off to the Spanish Civil War. The Lennox Gardens picnic and barbecue facilities are all in good order and I would imagine that they could be very busy at times.
If gardens and wandering about parklands are your thing, or if you are looking for a place to just sit to ponder something or maybe nothing, then I suggest pick a quiet day and make a visit to Canberra’s Beijing Gardens.