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Buninyong Botanic Gardens

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Scott Street, Buninyong VIC 3357

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Features

  • Free electric barbecues
  • Shaded picnic tables
  • Undercover area
  • Playground
  • Scenic lake
  • Shady ornamental pond
  • Historic rotunda
  • Walking tracks
  • Information signs
  • Toilets
  • Rubbish bins
  • Dogs allowed on lead
This gorgeous botanic garden sprawls across both sides of Cornish Street in the charming little town of Buninyong, fifteen minutes from Ballarat. Featuring a scenic lake, shaded ornamental pond, excellent picnic facilities, a children's playground and several walking tracks, the Buninyong Botanic Garden is a wonderful place for relaxation and recreation. 

The Buninyong Botanic Gardens were established in 1861 and are separated into two parts, known as the Upper and Lower Gardens, which run along Scott Street and are divided by Cornish Street.

The Upper Gardens contain a moderately-sized ornamental lake known as 'the Gong', a historic water supply which once serviced the town. Walking tracks travel around the lake and there are multiple information signs along the way.

The Lower Gardens contain excellent visitor facilities including a picnic area, playground and toilets. The picnic area consists of a double electric barbecue set in a single bench which overlooks a shaded grassy area dotted with picnic tables. A large double-roomed undercover area stands behind the barbecues, and over to the side stands a gorgeous historic 1901 Queen Victoria Rotunda. Other attractive features of the Lower Gardens include a picturesque shady duck pond and the old swimming baths which have been converted into a sunken garden. 

Historic sites surround the gardens including the 1858 Catholic Church, 1855 brewery, 1858 former court house and 1859 former police station.

The Victorian Heritage Database provides lots of historical information about the Buninyong Botanic Gardens, including the following:

The site of the Buninyong Botanic Gardens is identified on the 1856 township map as "springs and tea tree". 

In August 1861, a temporary reserve was gazetted and fifty acres were withdrawn from sale. This acreage was later reduced to ten acres, and by 1889 the site was permanently reserved for the Buninyong Gardens.

The gardens were commenced in 1888 under the direction of curator, Mr Figbeitch, and plants were obtained from several sources including Dr Mueller at the Botanic Gardens Melbourne. Notably plants were also supplied by local nurseryman, Francis Moss, which is an indication of the economic diversity found in the prospering Buninyong community.

The Buninyong Gardens boasted a natural park and woodland setting and quickly became the centre for recreational activity in Buninyong. The opening of the Buninyong Railway line closely followed the establishment of the Gardens in 1889, and many picnic parties journeyed from Ballarat to the gardens.

Information signs at Buninyong Botanic Gardens display the following text:

Buninyong Botanic Gardens

Established in 1861, the Buninyong Botanic Gardens is one of the oldest in the state and has great historical, aesthetic, scientific (botanical) and social significance. It received the State's highest heritage protection with the inclusion on the Victorian Heritage Register. 

The Gardens reserve spans two 2.2 Ha (5 acre) lots bisected by Cornish Street. The eastern area with its spring-fed lake is known as The Gong.

Trees for the Gardens were initially supplied by Baron von Mueller of the Melbourne Botanic Gardens, the Geelong Botanic Gardens and local nurseryman Francis Moss. 

The botanical significance relates particularly to its conifers, with the Abies pinsapo an outstanding example of this uncommon species. The Gardens also contain splendid examples of Acers such as the rare Acer opalus, with only three other specimens known in Victoria, and the Acer platenoides "Crimson King".

The elegant latticed rotunda, opened in 1901, is Victoria's earliest memorial to Queen Victoria following her death. The Gardens precinct includes other listed buildings including the 1858 former Court House and Warden's Office, and the 1859 former Police Station, both on the southern boundary adjoining the Primary School. 

Today the Friends of Buninyong Botanic Gardens assist the City of Ballarat to maintain, further enhance and encourage enjoyment of the gardens. 

The Gong Reserve

By 1842 a township was developing at the foot of Mt Buninyong. The 1850 town survey noted this area as 'tea tree and springs'. Following the discovery of gold at Buninyong in 1851 the town grew rapidly. An area for Public Garden Purposes was officially gazetted in 1861.

The good mineral springs east of this upper garden reserve provided water for the township. This reservoir became known as the 'Gong'. Its capacity was greatly increased after a devastating fire in Buninyong in 1876. 

The informality of the Gong reserve contrasts with the more formal lower garden. 

Dry-stone walling

In the early days of European settlement shepherds looked after the live-stock. The gold-rush from 1851 caused an exodus of labour. Timber fencing and dry stone walls became prevalent. 

Skilled dry-stoned wallers used the abundant volcanic stone in this area. They built walls of close fitted stones, tapering to the top from a base often over one metre thick. These were rubble filled and often finished with -- stones. 

The advent of post and wire fencing and the under-mining by rabbits brought about their demise. 

Acknowledgements: This wall was commissioned in 2011 by the Friends of the Buninyong Botanic Gardens, to mark the 150th anniversary of gazettal, using funding granted by the State Government of Victoria. 

It has a mortar core for additional strength and to help reduce maintenance. This sign was donated by the Buninyong and District Community Bank. 




DID YOU KNOW...

  • There are so many excellent playgrounds tucked away in little-known places. Take a look through this great list of playgrounds throughout the Victorian Goldfields.
  • There are hundreds of fantastic barbecue areas throughout the Victorian Goldfields. Some are in parks/playgrounds, others are scattered throughout the bush. Many barbecue areas are located alongside amazing attractions and walks, so go out for a barbecue and get exploring!
 

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