Ficus rubiginosa
Port Jackson fig

Deb Chirnside, 2014. © The Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust.

The fountain and pleasure garden at Vaucluse House

The gardens and grounds at Vaucluse House are part of a grand and romantic vision of landscape, preserved in Sydney’s best-surviving mid-1800s estate. Discover the splendid pleasure garden, Victorian kitchen garden and idyllic natural setting on the edge of Sydney Harbour.

Photo © James Horan for Sydney Living Museums.

Vaucluse, near Sydney
Frederick L Fisher, 1874, watercolour
Sydney Living Museums

This watercolour depicts the pleasure garden at Vaucluse House just over a decade after the Wentworth family left Sydney for England. A Port Jackson fig is pictured at left; a Moreton Bay fig, which likely dates to an earlier occupancy, stands at right, behind the fountain. A young wisteria vine, which became famous in the 1920s and 1930s as one of the city’s finest springtime sights, trails over the verandah.

Visitors on a bench at Vaucluse House
Photographer unknown, 1926
Caroline Simpson Library & Research Collection, Sydney Living Museums

In 1910 Vaucluse House, its harbour foreshore and remaining grounds (some 23 of the original 515 acres) were resumed by the state government as a public recreation ground. In the years that followed, the Wentworths’ private pleasure garden was transformed into a municipal park with diamond-shaped garden beds and concrete paths. The large Port Jackson fig at left was removed in the 1930s; a second, whose trunk is just visible behind it, still stands.

Vaucluse House from the fountain lawn

Today a 160-year old Port Jackson fig (left) is one of several surviving Wentworth-era plantings at Vaucluse House.

Photo © James Horan for Sydney Living Museums.

Port Jackson fig

Ficus rubiginosa