House today looks much as it must have in 1845 when Robert and Georgiana
Lowe moved in. Following extensive restoration work on the house itself,
the garden at Bronte House was completely overhauled.
A plan for re-planting was devised in the early 1980s by
most respected authority on historic houses and gardens, Dr. James Broadbent.
Some elements of his plan were implemented but in an attempt to achieve
instant privacy, lessees removed historically appropriate trees and replaced
them with others far less suitable but faster growing. This process
Combined with poor maintenance, this ad hoc approach resulted in a garden
that was seriously neglected, wildly overgrown and almost completely
so that any new growth was dramatically restricted. Weed infestation
of the site was extensive and the historic rock garden on the ocean
of the property was almost completely buried under a mountain of invasive
plants. The original late Victorian mounded rockery, complete with weathered
rocks and coral gathered from the nearby shore, was uncovered and the
lower part of the garden has now largely been cleared, restored and
Also uncovered was a circular fountain of 1886, which had been filled
with earth and planted with ailing arum lilies. It too has been restored.
A stand of poorly grown Ficus hillii along the southern boundary to Bronte
Road was removed and replaced, in accordance with the original Broadbent
plan, with eighteen advanced Acmena smithii, the native lilly pilly.
Many of the plants used in the current scheme have been selected for
their suitability to coastal conditions, indifference to sandy soil and
resistance to salt
The final form of the garden will evolve over
coming years and many refinements remain to be made, but dramatic changes
are unlikely to the rockery or to the northern gully where the bank has
been planted with three and a half thousand clivias shaded by a median
canopy of Cyathea cooperi, Phoenix canariensis and sixteen notable specimens
of the dwarf date palm, Phoenix roebelenii.
Bronte House is not a museum. Originally built as a family house it has
reverted to that use. There has been no attempt at 'historical accuracy'
in the furnishings as no evidence exists of the way the house was originally
fitted up, although photographs taken during the Ebsworth occupancy show
pressed metal ceilings and typical Edwardian furniture. However, antiques
of the period are to be seen in the main rooms and the sitting room has
been hung with wallpaper from the mid 1840s, printed from original wood
A model of Bronte House as it looked before the road was driven through
to the beach is also on display in the house.
Bronte House is owned by Waverley
Municipal Council and is privately occupied under a lease agreement
whereby responsibility for maintenance rests with the lessee. It is open
to the public six times a year.