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Rosalind Park

Bendigo Victoria

Rosalind Park in Bendigo is one of the city's unsung assets and attractions. Spend an hour wandering around the gardens, discovering the Fernery, climbing the lookout, enjoying the fountain and cascades and if you have children letting them discover the excellent play equipment. Rosalind Park is centrally located and close to many of Bendigo's statues and historic buildings.

The civic ideals of botanical gardens in colonial times

Rosalind Park BendigoBotanic Gardens and natural history generally were quite fascinating to the population in the Nineteenth century. There were many new plants that had recently been discovered and with the invention of the Wardian Case in the late 1820s allowed plants to be exchanged around the world. In Victoria we were fortunate to have Baron Ferdinand von Mueller, the Government Botanist from 1853 at the Melbourne Botanic Gardens who was very influential and promoted plant acclimatisation and experimental planting. Mueller distributed many plants to places in Victoria, interstate and internationally, and he sent plants to Rosalind Park.

How was Rosalind Park established ?

It was really through the lobbying of the commissioner at that time. The area had been dug over by miners, the Bendigo Creek had been destroyed largely and with the government buildings that were being proposed it seemed to be highly desirable to create a pleasant landscaped environment.

Rosalind Park and nineteenth century gardens

Rosalind Park BendigoWell it was very formally laid out. If people are familiar with the Fitzroy Gardens in Melbourne and the Treasury Gardens (which is adjacent to the Government buildings in Melbourne), we have a very similar situation in Bendigo - where the Government buildings back on to or front on to Rosalind Park. We have a path layout there quite complex in design, where the large circular loop carriage drive and crossing paths were all lined with trees - generally elm trees to mirror those in the Victorian gardens. There is an attractive planting of oaks and an avenue of Canary Island pines which is unusual planting in a Victorian public park.

How was the park established and developed ?

Well, the gardener was appointed in 1870 and between 1870 and 1872 the layout - very much as we see today - was put in place. The first planting occurred and blue gums and wattles were all used to stabilise the soil. In fact the ground having been worked over would have been extremely dusty and very muddy in winter.

The Bendigo Creek was straightened at that stage and three bridges were built in 1883 - quite ornate structures, cast-iron railings and it was all fenced and the beginnings of the garden occurred. Later in the 1890s extra land was acquired fronting Pall Mall so the area where the Queen Victoria statue (erected in 1903) and the Conservatory (erected in 1897) were was also added to the Rosalind Park reserve.

The installation of the Lansell Cascade

Cascades (Empty September 2008) Rosalind Park BendigoThe inspiration of the Cascade is quite interesting. The gold baron Lansell (and his home Fortuna which many people might be familiar with) had been to Italy and no doubt was inspired by his garden visits. There are similar cascades at Villa Lante in Italy and other Italian gardens and he came back - creating this water feature at Rosalind Park. It actually took some time to get established and it may have been operating in the late 1880s, but not for very long. At some stage it was filled in and only recently restored. It was excavated using an archaeologist to unearth as much as possible of the original fabric.

A new fountain and stone structures were introduced to relace missing sections of the cascade - based on historic records and sketches that had been prepared as part of the conservation plan. I think the water was turned on again about three years ago. It's quite a spectacular sight now. There are records indicating that there was always trouble getting the water circulating, as you could appreciate. The pumping mechanisms of the 1880's were very different to what is available today and there was always a problem getting the lift that was necessary.

Significant trees in Rosalind Park

Rosalind Park is quite special in terms of its planting composition - apart from the elm and Canary Island pine avenues it has individual outstanding trees. At the View Street entrance there's a spectacular Bunya Bunya pine - it's an Australian native from Queensland. There's a Hoop pine also from Queensland and Northern New South Wales, Cedar from the Himalaya's and an uncommon Yellow-wood from South Africa - so we've got this quite impressive collection of conifers, which relates to the period of establishment of the gardens. Conifers were very popular in the 1860s - Mueller promoted their use and distributed many plants around Victoria.

The most remarkable tree is the Californian bay, or sometimes known as the Headache tree, due to the very pungent leaves. A native of California and botanically known as Umbellularia californica, the tree in Rosalind Park near the Canary Island pine avenue is the only example in Victoria. There is a very large tree in the Adelaide Botanic Gardens. Another important trees is just inside the main entrance where there is a Crow's Ash, Flindersia australis, which is a native of Queensland. There are only three trees in Victoria, the other two occur in the Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne and the Benalla Botanical Gardens.

Rosalind Park : a significant heritage place

Rosalind Park BendigoRosalind Park is now added to the Victorian Heritage Register - it was added in the year 2000 and we've been working with the City of Greater Bendigo and a recently formed Friends Group of the Bendigo Botanic Gardens (which also includes the White Hills Botanic Gardens as well as Rosalind Park). The focus at the moment has been on assisting the restoration of the unique fernery at the northern end which was carved out of the former alignment of the Bendigo Creek. There are many wild palm seedlings and other inappropriate plantings that have occurred there - rhododendroms and azaleas for example and the intention is to upgrade and redevelop that area to reform a wonderful Victorian fernery which was very fashionable in the 19th century.

Plant cultivation in the nineteenth century

Certainly plant cultivation really was at its peak in the nineteenth century. People spent a lot of time walking through their local parks and gardens - travelling far afield was less available than it is today. Special microclimates were established either in a fernery situation - as we see at the fernery at Ripponlea and the glasshouses at Fitzroy Gardens and the Melbourne Botanic Gardens.

Certainly tropical plants, the colour that tropical plants provide and the unique features of those plants were seen to be highly desirable and so special environments were created to display a wide variety of the world's flora. Really it was to capture people's imagination and to educate people about a wide variety to plants that they wouldn't have easy access to.

Source: http://www.heritage.vic.gov.au/

 
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