1976 December 3 Premier Hamer declares Victoria ‘Garden State’.
1978 May Basic concept for a State Rose Garden established.
1980 March 11 Premier approves garden ’in principle’ at Werribee Park.
1981 February 14 Formal announcement, with informal assurance that roses would be provided by donation.
1981/1982 Priestley, Phillips & Co dug up and transported 2250 roses from Portland to Werribee.
1982 CIVINEX excavated bowl shape.
1983/1984 No government money so stagnation. MMBW took over nightmare.
1984/1985 All roses lifted to allow reforming of beds, establishment of paths and seeding of grass areas.
1986 November 9 Official opening of stage 1.
1992 By Xmas no work had been done so the grass was out of control, and the plants carrying thousands of hips and deadheads. Crunch time with threat of bulldozer. Petition raised by Priestley and public appeal for volunteers to assist in maintaining garden. 50 were enrolled.
1993 June 21 Victoria State Rose Garden Supporters Group incorporated
1998 Stage One Heritage Border established.
2000 Realignment of fence allows Stage Two of Heritage Border. Centenary of Federation Grant obtained for establishment of Federation Leaf.
2001 David Austin Rosebud donated by David Austin Roses planted.
2001 November 11 Federation Leaf officially opened.
2003 World Federation Of Rose Societies grants VSRG ‘Garden of Excellence’ status.
2012 November Official Opening of New Archway Entrance to the Rose Garden
2016 Heritage Council Award given to Victoria State Rose Garden Supporters Inc. for outstanding commitment to creating and maintaining a significant garden and enhancing an important heritage site.
An early view of the Victoria State Rose Garden
Tudor Rose VSRG 1986

A Short History

The original concept of a State Rose Garden arose when Victoria was declared The Garden State, in 1976.

After much hard work and lobbying by a few dedicated members of the National Rose Society, particularly Mr. James (Jim) Lyall Priestly OAM, it became a reality in 1986

Mervyn Hayman Danker FRAIA and James Priestly co-designed a plan which was accepted by the State Government and developed by the Public Works Department in Stages from 1986 to 2001.

On the 9th November 1986, the official opening of Stage One of the Victoria State Rose Garden was performed.

The opening was blessed with sunshine and a fine display by the plants now in place.

An official opening does not guarantee that work will continue.  Changes of State Government and economic rationalisation left no doubt that the Rose Garden was about to be engulfed and terminated. The bulldozers were to move in.

A petition against this move resulted in many hundreds of signatures supporting the completion, but it had to be shown that there were sufficient volunteers to carry out the work involved in both the current Garden and any extension. In June 1993 The Victoria State Rose Garden Supporters Werribee Park Inc. was registered.

The Supporters work very closely with the current management of the Tourism Precinct, Parks Victoria and the staff of The Mansion at Werribee Park. The joint efforts show clearly in the standard of care and upkeep of the Garden and its surrounds.

Read  "History & Origins of the Victoria State Rose Garden" by James L Priestly OAM for an in depth history of the garden.



The Heritage Border

Members of the National Rose Society pruning roses c. 1986 (Mr Jim Priestly third from left)

In August 1997 it was decided to utilise the fenceline between the Mansion and the Rose Garden by creating a Heritage Border. With the help of Werribee Park staff and a grant from Parks Victoria, 44 varieties of Climbing Species and Old Roses were planted to form a hedge on the fence. In 1998 a front row of bush Heritage Roses was planted consisting of 49 varieties. Many of these were species roses with historical ties to the modern rose.

In 2000 a further 400 metres of Border was planted with Heritage Roses, This now gives Victoria one of the best collections of Heritage Roses in Australia.

The Federation Leaf

In 2000, the Supporters were successful in obtaining a grant from the Centenary of Federation to develop and plant a stylised leaf.  The Federation Leaf contains 50 beds of roses bred by Australians and represents many Australian Breeders.  In addition, eight climbing roses have been planted to climb the watering poles.

The Rosebud

David Austin Bud early 2001
Mr Jim Priestly & others measuring out the Australian leaf c. 2000

A donation from David Austin Roses in 2000, saw the Supporters in the nice position of planting out a perfumed garden of David Austin (or English) roses in the shape of a Rosebud.  Some 60 varieties, both climbing and bush, were planted and have developed quickly.  The area has been paved to retain a more formal appearance.

To top

New Formal Entrance


The Entrance to the Victoria State Rose Garden was originally hidden behind a screen of trees from the carpark of the Mansion at Werribee Park. Improvement was long overdue with visitors unable to locate the garden entrance because of this wind screen of pine trees and other foliage and inadequate signage.

To make the Garden more visible to the public, in 2013 the volunteers, together with public support, found the funds to erect a new Archway over the front entrance.  

The project to erect a commanding new entrance commenced in 2012 and then president, Mrs Veronica O'Brien, said that the completed project would be a great achievement for the group after more than ten years of requesting a defined entrance.

Mr Alex Quinn, President for 2012/14 was project manager. The Department of Sustainability and Environment through the Vision for Werribee Plains was the major financial contributor , along  with Parks Victoria, City of Wyndham, Wyndham Cache, Wyndham, Werribee and Hoppers Crossing Rotary Clubs, interested Individuals and last but by no means least our 145 Supporters.

VSRGS acknowledges the contributions of Mr Mervyn Hayman-Danker as the architect of the new entrance and the input of local design and fabrication companies which was vital to the success of the project. The VSRG Supporters are extremely grateful to all mentioned.

Visitors are particularly welcome to come down on sunny Wednesdays or Saturdays (mornings) and talk to the volunteers as they carry out their pleasant duties.  We are very proud to show off our Garden.




The Garden's journey...

Great Performers

Browse our Garden's best....


Maintaining the Rose Garden...