where it came from and where it's going -
No-one is surprised when the offspring of unusual and creative parents turns out to be of similar nature. Such is the case with the infant Redcliffe Botanic Gardens, the happy parents being "SGAP" and "Environmental Education".
To gain space, I must skip over the details of the marriage:
how in the mid-seventies a community group achieved the building and staffing of the Redcliffe Education Centre (on the corner of a large cow paddock) ..
how the local Branch of SGAP restored the decrepit bushland, on the half-hectare Centre site ..
how this became the launching platform for the Wallum Project (ie. The occupation of the whole four-hectare cow paddock) ..
how some members of SGAP, while getting their hands dirty, conceived the Wallum Project and started the ball rolling (1984) to extend into the cow-land ..
how that application gathered dust for years in the Lands Department ..
how the whole game was very nearly lost before it began - the land was to be sold off "for housing"! (1988)..
how the Project actually began, and how the co-venturers came to be "Redcliffe Education Centre" and "SGAP" - fostered by Qld. Department of Education how the original goal became "the development of an environmental education centre"..
how the development of the incredibly messy and barbed-wire old cow-paddock became a true neighbourly and community project with a remarkable momentum ..
how the Greening Australia Community Nursery came to be built in the grounds ..
how the grounds became a monastery garden, how for four years someone had to climb the high, cloistered fence every weekend and holidays to water precious plants in the Nursery, some of which were last remnants of Redcliffe Peninsula species ..
how, in 1994, we came to the very edge of the precipice .. the owners of the land and fosterers of the Project, the Qld. Department of Education, were abandoning the whole show, Education Centre, Wallum Project, botanical wealth, everything .. the land was to be sold off "for housing"! ..
how the community, press and Council rose up and denounced the sale ..
how the cavalry rode up with Pat Comben at the head and ceded the land to the Redcliffe City Council "on condition that it be preserved for use by the community and for the education of local children" ..
Council decided that its future should be "a botanic gardens".
The Gardens Today:
Let's walk the Main Track over the Jurassic sands and visit the features shown on the self-guiding pamphlet. Unless otherwise stated, the features are in place and being developed by Redcliffe City Council and community groups in cooperation.
1. The original piece of bushland restored by SGAP members. Contains the very last remnant of Redcliffe Peninsula flora, eg. The last Banksia robur, last Acrotriche aggregata, last three Patersonia sericea, last Xanthorrhoeas. Only appropriate "local provenance plants" are grown here.
2,3,4. Very small areas of Acacia, Grevillea, Banksia - mainly for educational purposes.
5. City Forest, Rainforest Species: One hectare, strictly Moreton Region species, planted in subdivisions to simulate various natural habitats, such as Dry Rainforest, Subtropical Rainforest, Warm Temperate Rainforest, Swamp Rainforest, Littoral Rainforest. (pamphlet available)
6. Koala Food Trees (nine 'local species').
7. Authentic Bushland Restoration from mown grass site. Appropriate local provenance plantings only.
8. Mini-Amphitheatre for small group activities. Excavated, but no further development as yet.
9. Planned Observation Tower site.
10. "Forest Meeting Place". Large tree-less lawn area for large gatherings, such as fetes, displays, weddings. We recently had the Queensland Ballet Theatre's "Faeries in the Park". Highly successful, outstanding quality. Children as "Wattle Fairies", "Blue-triangle Butterfly Fairies". Chief Fairy was "Paper-bark. A Forest Conservation theme.
11. Wallum Wildflower Heathland simulation. Ambitious, but on the way.
12. Local Eucalypt Area. No Corymbias yet!
13. Woodland (Dry Sclerophyll) simulation of the natural habitat. Well on the way.
14. Tall open Forest (Wet Sclerophyll) simulation. Well on the way.
15. Myrtle Family. Well on the way.
16. Thorn Bushes, for small-bird nesting.
17. A Museum Piece - the Old Cow-yard and Ramp.
18. Site of planned "Ponds Feature". Negotiating for funding now.
19. Swamp Rainforest. Well in place.
20. The Redcliffe Greening Australia Community Nursery. First such in Queensland. Nearly all (planted) botanical wealth in the grounds came hence. Planned Butterfly House extension.
21. Bore. Part of planned emergency water system.
22. Wildflowers of Moreton Region. Well on the way.
23. Herb Garden (Peninsula Herb Group). Excellent now.
24. "Quota Garden". Quota Club donated $20,000. A wildflower garden, which is to be mainly scented species - for especially the blind and handicapped.
25. "Wallum Centre". The old Redcliffe Education Centre. Now for Management, Pottery Workshop, etc. It will become, we hope, also a Display and Visitor Centre.
A lot of written and pictorial documentation is available on the Redcliffe Botanic Gardens, also comprehensive botanical lists.
My "Dictionary of Australian Botanical Names" and "Bushland Stickers" were inspired here and among that wonderful community of those real Australians called the SGAP.
Where is the Redcliffe Botanic Gardens going?
To become, we hope, "an outstanding and distinctive Botanic Gardens that provides a quality recreation and education experience to visitors", for that is the goal (as set out in the draft Master Plan).
We hope that what we lack in size (it's only 4 hectares) we can make up for in quality of design and presentation.
Redcliffe City Council contributed $200,000 this year. A public toilet is being built and tracks laid. There is one full-time groundsman.
When will the Gardens open?
Maybe this year. Ten years seems a good age.
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