Australian Garden Stage 2
After 20 years of planning, construction and planting, the Royal Botanic Gardens Cranbourne vibrant Australian Garden is now complete.
An additional six hectares of landscaped garden sees the entire Australian Garden almost double in size, bringing the total size of the Garden to an impressive 15 hectares.
The new area comprises 11 new precincts and new facilities including a visitor kiosk at the northern end of the Garden, boardwalks and viewing platforms on Howson and Gibson Hills, and an amphitheatre for education programs and performances.
Following the journey of water
The Australian Garden design follows the journey of water from the red centre of Australia, along dry river beds and down mighty rivers to the coastal fringes of the continent.
The western side of the garden, including the Eucalypt Walk, Gondwana Garden, Arid Garden and Dry River Bed, takes its cue from the natural world. The eastern and northern extent of the Garden is contrived from more human ideas and images.
Water is the main storyteller in the Australian garden; it leads visitors through the Australian Garden, expressing the main design themes and the heart of our historic and future relationship with the Australian landscape.
In the first half of the Australian Garden (completed in 2006), the journey of water begins in the red desert heart of Australia – the Red Sand Garden. Here in the dry, water is absent. Its journey continues: the Dry River Bed and the Ephemeral Lake Sculpture highlight the transient nature of water leaving the desert in drought arriving with unpredictable floods until it arrives in the Rockpool Waterway.
In the second half of the Australian Garden (the northern half), the Rockpool Waterway becomes a River Bend at the River Walk.
The aim of the Royal Botanic Gardens in creating the Australian Garden is to share with visitors the beauty and diversity of Australian plants. The Australian Garden is a place where you can explore the evolving connections between people, plants and landscapes. The Australian Garden is also a place where you can discover inspiration and information about how to use Australian plants in your home garden.
This is the first new landscape feature that visitors will encounter in the new area. The River Walk is a broad promenade with views across a meandering ‘river bend’ water body. This area, comprising a large, curving, treed walkway of granitic gravel and a waterside section of timber decking, connects the Rockpool Waterway with the vibrant Display Gardens and Howson Hill.
The River Walk includes a generous public waterside space for gatherings, seating, functions, entertainment, and education programs. The area incorporates waterside access that will facilitate instruction in aquatic flora and fauna, and ‘ponding’ activities for school students. A timber-clad amphitheatre with seating for over 150 students provides an outdoor gathering space fringed by Australian plants and shade-providing trees.
Cultivar Garden and Research Garden
Visitors proceeding northwards from the picturesque River Walk will encounter the Cultivar Garden. Dynamic displays will be on show here, utilising selections of some of the most visually spectacular Australian plants, including grafted, experimental and newly released varieties selected for their particular suitability to Melbourne-specific growing and soil conditions.
The eastern section of the Cultivar Garden has research plots that will be used by Royal Botanic Gardens’ horticulturalists, and students. The research in this area will highlight the role of botanic gardens in horticultural research and how this impacts on which plants we grow in our home gardens.
Howson Hill emerges from a tranquil waterway north of the River Walk and is capped with existing rare and endangered Mallee Eucalypts. A walk along the ridge line provides access to these unique trees and a rich understorey of grasses and ground covers. The loosely-defined path culminates in a viewing platform affording sweeping views across the Australian Garden and along the Melaleuca Spits. A pathway providing continuous waterside access will link the two sections of the Display Gardens in the ‘valleys’ adjacent to Howson Hill.
The Arbour Garden
Australian climbing plants and standards fill this display garden with a large number of plants for use in the home garden. This is the must-see location for keen gardeners, visitors looking for innovative ways to use tricky vertical spaces in their garden, and children and the young at heart looking to play hide-and-seek. Views along the central pathway through the arbours will be a great favourite with brides or anyone looking for spectacular and unique portraits.
The Melaleuca Spits is the Australian Garden’s principle representation of Australia’s rich and distinctive estuarine coastal topography. Strongly reminiscent of Australia’s coastal regions, this evocative feature of the Australian Garden landscape is highly visible from many other locations within the Garden. Layers of aquatic reeds, sand spits, and bands of Melaleucas provide particularly striking vistas from the River Walk precinct, Howson and Gibson Hills, and the Arbour Garden.
Northern Display Gardens
The Northern Display Gardens offer informative demonstrations of the use of Australian plants in home gardens. This is the place to relax and unwind, picnic with your family or get your hands dirty exploring gardening in the ‘How to Garden’. Each garden provides practical ‘take home’ ideas for visitors. The precinct includes the How to Garden, Promenade Plaza, the Backyard Garden, the Lifestyle Garden, the Greening Cities Garden and the Seaside Garden.
The Gondwana Garden
Visitors arriving at the Gondwana Garden, will discover a lush and immersive landscape representing Australia’s ancient Gondwanan rainforest heritage, and will be able to explore the evolutionary history of the continent and its flora. The range of plant species has been carefully compiled with input from expert RBG botanists to provide visitors with experiences reminiscent of forests in those long-distant times.
The Gondwana Garden’s design includes a striking series of natural hexagonal basalt columns that reflect similar natural igneous rock formations in the Australian landscape, and provide a reference to the role of volcanic activity in the earth-forming of the ancient super-continent of Gondwana.
The Eucalypt Walk celebrates the diversity in form, foliage, bark, smells and sounds that make up the diverse Eucalypts and related genera. The Gondwana Garden and Eucalypt Walk extend along the western flank of the Australian Garden. Walking from south to north gradually surrounds visitors with an immersive experience, with canopy and understorey becoming more luxuriant and enveloping.
The Ian Potter Lakeside Precinct
Equipping the Australian Garden with its principal outdoor location for community events such as festivals, functions, live music and theatre, markets, and cinema screenings, The Ian Potter Lakeside Precinct is a unique public events space catering for up to 1,500 people. Looking out over the Ian Potter Lake, the area acts as a focal point for both education and entertainment.
Another prominent landscape feature, Gibson Hill is an ideal a place to rest with panoramic views to the entire Australian Garden. It will be cloaked with blue-foliaged saltbush and acacias to provide a backdrop to the Red Sand Garden. A winding path provides all-abilities access to the top of the Hill.
Weird and Wonderful Garden
In the heart of the Australian Garden, this mysterious garden focuses on some of the stranger forms of Australian flora including dramatic plants such as Doryanthes, cycads, Xanthorrhoea, Brachychiton, Flindersia and Livistona. These plants are juxtaposed with massive vaults of Castlemaine stone and water features to create a fantastic and surreal landscape which is sure to become a special family and tourist destination.
Last updated 01 Feb 2013