Palm Beach’s Multi-million Dollar Property That Money Can’t Buy

By Jonathan Fletcher

Have you ever been to the Palm Beach Bible Garden?

I was first introduced to the Bible Garden not long after I acquired my ‘P’ driving plates at the age of 17. A friend suggested we take a drive to check out the view from the Bible Garden. Little did I understand its rich history at the time. This sweet and serene space has remained one of the few hidden treasures of Palm Beach.

Rich in history and abounding in beauty, The Bible Garden is a popular choice of backdrop for weddings, proposals, baptisms and picnics. It’s tranquil, it’s green and its magnificent view will rest any soul that cares to sits within it. No wonder it has been described as the “multi-million dollar property that money can’t buy.”

Whether you are a local to Palm Beach or here on holidays, it would be easy to miss this hidden jewel.

What is a Bible Garden?

Bible Gardens are designed to be a tranquil environment, which encourage visitors to engage with the Bible. These gardens typically try to cultivate the plants mentioned in the old and new testaments, providing patrons with an opportunity to see, smell and touch the greenery mentioned in ancient scriptures.

They often have a pathway or a bench ensuring that visitors interact with the site, not just admire it from afar.

Today, there are approximately 175 Bible gardens around the world. Some are associated with centres of worship, universities and museums. But others, like the Palm Beach Bible Garden, are open to the public.

Creation

Gerald Hercules Robinson was inspired to create a Bible Garden at Palm Beach after a visit to the Bible Garden in Bangor Cathedral, Wales, in 1963.

Robinson was a 70-year-old man. As a devout Christian with five children, he was a veteran of both World Wars and a successful businessman – in 1956 he was the first to sell two commercial helicopters in Australia. A year later he bought this parcel of land and declared that the “glorious view of creation was too lovely for a house”.

Design

Robinson was so enamored with the gardens at Bangor Cathedral that he studied the list of 148 Biblical plants that were recorded by Dr Tatham Whitehead, the creator of the Welsh Biblical Garden. He also used Dr Whitehead’s landscaping plans as a foundation for his own.
Robinson flew to Israel and Palestine to source the seeds for his venture and 143 of the 148 plants flourished in his care. He terraced much of the steep land himself and created the garden beds.

Along with the gardening, Robinson installed 10 lamps leading into the garden from the right of way from Florida Road to Mitchell Road. The lamps referred to passages and people mentioned in the Bible; six from the Old Testament and four from the New Testament.

The Palm Beach Bible Garden was declared open in 1966. Robinson died in his beloved garden in 1972 and the Bible Garden Memorial Fund was set up months earlier to ensure that the grounds were maintained after his death.

Legacy

Robinson’s daughter Beatrice, an ordained Deaconess, was the trustee of the estate. But maintaining funds for its upkeep was challenging, despite her best efforts. She died in 1994 and her four remaining brothers became trustees.

By 2001, only 15 of the 148 Biblical plants could be identified and six of the 10 lamps were still in place.

In order to continue Robinson’s legacy the trustees subdivided the Palm Beach land into a residential portion and a garden portion. The sale of the residential allotment in 2006 allowed for the Palm Beach Bible Garden to be passed into the care of The Friends of the Bible Garden and the Pittwater Council. The two groups restored the garden according to Robinson’s vision.

In September 2012, the renovated Bible Garden was officially (re)opened by the former Governor of NSW, Professor Marie Bashir.

Today

Today the Bible Garden can be booked for weddings and other low impact events and while it was a secret for almost half a century word is getting out about this photogenic location. Airbnb hosts recommend that their guests pay the garden a visit and its manicured lawns are featured on many Palm Beach blogs.

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