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Castlemaine Botanical Gardens

Castlemaine Botanical Gardens 2

Castlemaine Botanical Gardens History

Castlemaine Botanical Gardens are one of Victoria’s oldest regional botanic gardens. The gardens were gazetted on 21 February 1860. Their scale reflects Castlemaine’s prosperity during the gold rush and community desire to highlight the success of the town. The gardens are believed to be designed by the first curator, Phillip Doran who held this position for 47 years until his death in 1913.

Development of the gardens was ongoing and continued until their peak in the 1890s. The impressive cast iron gates were constructed in 1877-78 by local engineering firm Thompson & Co and local monumental mason George Redfearn. Also in 1877-78, a decorative fountain was erected nearby. Lake Joanna was completed in 1879 and Lake Augusta was constructed in 1884. In the 1890s, a rustic bridge, conservatory, fernery, shelter shed, rotunda and grotto were added. The tearooms were constructed in 1919 and in 1920 a glasshouse was built.

Many of the gardens heritage features including Lake Augusta, the summerhouse, bridges and grotto have since been removed. The gardens have decreased in size, with land annexed for a caravan park, swimming pool and Alexander Hospital, but remain of historical, scientific, social and aesthetic significance.

Many of the original plants were provided by Government Botanist Ferdinand Mueller and Daniel Bunce the curator of Geelong Botanic Gardens. An English Oak planted in 1863 is one of the oldest commemorative plantings in Victoria. Many of the plants within the gardens are characteristic of late nineteenth century gardens. They also represent the scientific role of a botanical garden. The gardens feature an outstanding collection of mature trees, including many conifers, Elms and Oaks as well as stunning individual specimens of Indian Bean Tree, Peppercorn and Eucalypts.

Castlemaine Botanical Gardens Flora and Fauna Reserve

The Castlemaine Botanical Gardens is home to the Flora and Fauna Reserve which is situated in the north-western section of the gardens.

The Flora and Fauna Reserve supports 98 indigenous flora species including at least one threatened species – the Late-flowering Flax-lily. This native flora is scattered across central Victoria and is only known from a small number of sites around Castlemaine.

The higher sections of the reserve, above the flats of Barkers Creek, are dominated by sedimentary rocks known as the Castlemaine Group. These rocks were formed between 443 and 485 million years ago, at a time when much of eastern Australia was a basin submerged beneath the ocean. This basin was gradually filled with sediments that eroded off mountain ranges that were located to the west near the present-day Flinders Ranges. The basin was later uplifted out of the ocean and folded and tilted and over time became the bedrock of the Castlemaine Group.

The reserve also contains valuable habitat for a variety of fauna species, including mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles and invertebrates. This includes the Eastern Grey Kangaroo, the Black Wallaby, the Powerful Owl, the Brush-tailed Phascogale and several skink and frog species.

The reserve is also one of the few places in Australia that is home to the beautiful and endangered Eltham Copper Butterfly. This butterfly was thought to be extinct by the 1950s until it was rediscovered in 1986. The reserve hosts the perfect environment for this species and is one of the few places in Australia where it can be found. This butterfly relies solely on the Sweet Bursaria plant and Notoncus capitatus ants to survive. The three species share a vital symbiosis which the butterfly can’t exist without, and which makes it such a rare species.

Council adopted the Environmental Management Plan for the reserve on 19 April 2022. The plan identifies and describes the values of the Castlemaine Botanical Gardens Flora and Fauna Reserve, and formulates a ten-year action plan to guide future management.

Castlemaine Botanical Gardens is registered on the Victorian Heritage Register.

For more information, search the Victorian Heritage Database or contact us.

Look out for the many points of interest highlighted on the Walking Maps on the Castlemaine Botanical Gardens.

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