Charles Sturt University
Charles Sturt University


The late Mr. Gerald H. Robinson was inspired to establish a Bible Garden after visiting Bangor in Wales. Near the cathedral in that city the late Dr Tatham Whitehead, who was Botany Professor at the University College of North Wales, had established a Bible Garden. Where possible all of the plants and trees that are mentioned in the scriptures had been planted in the order that they were mentioned in the Bible. Through his research Dr Whitehead had developed a list that identified the 148 individual plants that are mentioned in the Bible, and armed with this list Mr Robinson set off to create a Bible Garden.

In 1962 Mr Robinson started to plan and set out his garden on a block of land with a beautiful view overlooking Palm Beach and Barrenjoey headland in the Northern Beaches of Sydney, NSW. The layout of this garden used Dr. Whitehead's plan as a guide for its format. During several trips to Israel and Palestine Mr Robinson obtained seeds of many of the plants that were not readily available in Australia. Through careful propagation and relentless effort the garden developed and an official opening ceremony was conducted on Saturday, 26th March, 1966 by Mr. Justice Richardson.

A little known original feature of the Palm Beach Garden was the 10 lamps leading into the garden along the right of way from Florida Road to Mitchell Road. "In the beginning - God said Let there be light". Each lamp commemorated persons and passages in the Bible and these were referenced on the lamps. The first six lamps referred mainly to the Old Testament, and the last four to the New Testament. The first lamp referred to the wonder of God's creation as described in Genesis in the Old Testament and the Gospel of John in the New Testament and the final lamp No. 10 was devoted to St Stephen and St Paul on whom "suddenly a light from heaven flashed about him". It stood at the beginning of the Bible Garden beside the first bed which had plants typical of the Garden of Eden.

The garden flourished under Mr Robinson's care, with 143 of the 148 plants described in the Bible having been planted. As he desired the Bible Garden to be continued after his death Mr Robinson established the Bible Garden Memorial Trust on 5 April 1972, appointing himself and his daughter Beatrice Robinson as Trustees.

The purpose of the Trust was is to maintain the Palm Beach Bible Garden, along with any others in the future, in such a way as to further the teachings of Christ in the Holy scriptures. Its purpose is evangelistic, educational, and ecumenical in spirit and for this reason the Trust is not tied to any particular denomination.

In addition to the Palm Beach Garden, land was purchased at Katoomba in the Blue Mountains, NSW to establish a Bible Garden that would harbour the plants that could not tolerate the subtropical maritime climate of Palm Beach. Unfortunately this garden had not been established before Gerald Hercules Robinson died peacefully in his sleep at his beloved Bible Garden on 4 July 1972.

After Gerald's death, death duty took a large bite out of the funds that he had set aside for maintenance. Beatrice, a Deaconess in the Anglican Church, then took up residence on the site and worked very hard not only in the garden itself but importing seeds from Israel and plants from all over Australia, as well as doing almost all the gardening herself. She also endeavored to establish a Bible Garden on the trust land in Katoomba. It was a challenging task with the very limited financial and physical resources available.

In addition to her Deaconess duties Beatrice went back to work part-time to support the ongoing expense of the Garden. Undaunted, with the same spirit she had inherited from her father, she soldiered on. The Katoomba site was sold and for the next 18 years she divided her time between the Garden and her duties as a Deaconess at St David's Anglican Church at Palm Beach. Beatrice continued to look after the garden until her death on June 10 1994.

At this point Beatrice's four brothers became trustees and after much deliberation agreed that long term funding was needed for maintenance and upkeep in order to satisfy the requirements of the perpetual Trust Deed. A survey of the garden in 2001 found that only 15 of the original 148 Biblical plants could be identified and there were only 6 of the original 10 lamps remaining.

Ultimately a decision was made to subdivide the Palm Beach property into a residential portion and a garden portion with the aim of selling the residential portion to provide funds to continue the aims of the Trust. The Palm Beach Bible Garden was subdivided and the garden portion passed into the care of The Friends of the Bible Garden and the Pittwater Council.

The residential property was sold in 2006, and with sufficient funds having been set aside to maintain the Palm Beach Bible Garden, the balance was then used to establish another Bible Garden at the Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture in Canberra, a beautiful site overlooking Lake Burley Griffin.