Looking towards the tea house - Japanese Garden Cowra

Looking towards the tea house – Japanese Garden Cowra

Whilst living in Japan, I was on a mission to visit as many castles and gardens as I could. I was captivated by the gardens. They were so different to any kind of garden I’d seen before. I was blown away by the intentional journey the paths led you on and how the hedges were shaped ‘just so’. Other gardens I felt maybe I could one day emulate, but Japanese gardens seemed well beyond (and still do) what I could achieve. So you can imagine how intrigued I was to discover that Cowra, just an hour and a half north of us, had a large Japanese Garden. I am also in the process of deciding what trees we should be planting on our property, both for the windbreak and just in general. So I justified putting the children in the car for a long car trip (but let’s face it, most places are a long car trip from here) as research for our property. Because it’s never a selfish thing…

The koi was a firm favourite with both our children

The koi were a firm favourite with both our children

The garden was lovely. The price tag was a little steep. I’m a big believer in, if you want people to visit, keep the cost low and they’ll keep coming back. $15 per adult means we won’t be coming back. Seriously. As much as I love gardens, $30 to visit with two young children is a little much. Let me explain. Childless me would’ve sat under different trees, or in the tea house, just quietly taking in the serenity of the garden. I would’ve noticed the deliberate twists and turns of the paths, how certain aspects of the garden were framed to highlight certain trees, etc. Living in my reality with two children under 2.5years –  our time was spent making sure our daughter didn’t end up in the river or the pond, making sure that she didn’t actually catch the ducks she was chasing, and trying to keep her occupied long enough just so we could look at a tree we thought would suit our property. Thankfully our son was more compliant and was quite happy to sit in the pram… so long as we parked him in front of a waterfall or in view of the ducks. Our entire time at the garden lasted just under two hours. That was when our daughter decided she’d had enough and let anyone within ear shot know. The reality of trying to sight-see with a 2year old. Yes, do the math. We spent more time in the car than we did in the garden we’d come to see. So we won’t be coming back for a while. $30 was an expensive visit for two hours, especially when we had to combine that with a rather long car trip.

Having a run while we ate lunch on the immaculate lawns.

Having a run while we ate lunch on the immaculate lawns.

But for those of you who have more compliant children, or no children, and find yourself near Cowra, I would visit the garden. Maybe don’t go around winter, like we did, as it might be nicer to see the trees with a few more leaves. But in saying that, it was still beautiful. The lawn was a work of art. The hedges were impeccably pruned with the typical rounded edges that moulded into one another. You might even be able to look at the Cultural Centre. We, on the other hand, had to make a hasty exit before our children imploded. Although I did manage to take photos of the trees I liked and have added a few to our list of trees we’d like to plant. So although it was short – we were happy we’d made the trek.



Japanese Black PIne - this brought back many memories of the gardens and castles in Japan!

Japanese Black PIne – this brought back many memories of the gardens and castles in Japan!

Written by Nadia


Gary Lum

I visited the gardens last year and loved them. You’re right though the prices are steep, especially given the time it takes to drive there and back from Canberra.


It’s such a pity too as I would love to visit them more often (not as far from where I am in the Yass Valley). Just can’t justify $30 when we’re likely to have to leave after an hour ~ depending on which child has a meltdown! Would love to see the cherry blossoms in bloom. Have you been then?


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