Photo of the House with the river in foreground
The vice regal residence and domain from the Government House jetty, circa 1869. Source: State Library of Western Australia.

The lake

The lake in our lower Gardens is both an historic garden feature and a vital source of water for the lawns and plants within our heritage-listed Grounds.

The lake was once part of the original Swan River foreshore

The lower Gardens were laid out in their present form in the late 1880’s and early 1890’s. At that time, the Swan River still lapped the lower boundary line of the Government House Site along the line of the ponds and old limestone wall. The present boundary on Terrace Road was established in 1904 when the reclamation of the river foreshore between the Supreme Court and Victoria Avenue was completed.

Within the reclaimed land, only one part of the original foreshore survived – as two ornamental pools incorporated into the Government House Gardens. These two pools were amalgamated in 2000 to form the ‘lake’ we see today, with the northern bank following the former river foreshore profile.

The lake today

The lake underwent a major redevelopment in 2000 to combine two separate bodies of water, that were for the most part stagnant, into a source of clean water to be used for reticulation.

How it works:

  • When the level of the lake drops it is topped up from a bore located in the upper Gardens.
  • The water from the bore is very high in iron so the iron must be removed from the water to ensure that everything, including the plants, are not stained orange.
  • First, water is pumped from the bore through an iron filter that removes the bulk of the iron.
  • From the iron filter, the water enters the lake via a series of settling ponds giving the remaining iron further opportunity to drop out.
  • Once the water enters the lake itself from the settling ponds located at the eastern end of the lake, it must travel all the way to the western end of the lake where a submersible pump draws it out to water the Garden.
  • The water entering at one end and being drawn out at the opposite end of the lake is no accident – the greater the distance the water has to travel in the lake, the more opportunity there is to drop iron out of the water.
  • The lake also has three fountains that while providing a visual feature for the Grounds also play a very important role in aerating and circulating the water, preventing it from becoming stagnant.


lake and park bench
You can visit the lake during our Lunchtimes in the Grounds opening hours – every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday between 12-2pm.
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