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Gargarro - A Journey Through The Senses

A celebratory launch of the phase one plan for a ‘Sensory Garden’ within the Gargarro Botanic Gardens was held via Zoom on Monday 21 September. The event was presented by Taylor Cullity and Lethlean Associates (TCL), the consulting landscape architects for the project and Doc McDonald, Committee chair for Gargarro Gardens Inc.


Attending the Zoom meeting were fifty-six local government and associated dignitaries, including the Chair of BGANZ (Botanic Gardens Australia and New Zealand), John Arnott; member for Murray Plains, Damian Drum; the CEO of Campaspe Shire, Declan Moore, Shire Councillors; the Deputy Leader of The National Party, Steph Ryan and the Mike Pretty, CEO of Heinz P/L, the company who donated the land to the community.

Chair of Botanic Gardens Australia and New Zealand (BGANZ), John Arnott said he was impressed with the local community's determination to undertake such a visionary project. “This is an extraordinary project for a small community to take on”, he said. “My first impression was one of doubt. However, as time went on, I was more than impressed with the forward thinking of the group and the level of community involvement already achieved. By the time I left, I came away with a sense that not only would they achieve their dream, but that it would be a garden of the future.

“BGANZ is the peak industry group in the field of regional botanic gardens”, Mr Arnott said. “Our role is one of support and advocacy for any group wanting to establish or enhance a botanic garden, working closely with local committees to assist with the development, interpretation and progress of their plans.

“Botanic gardens are not just interesting places to visit”, he said, “but places where people interact with each other and the garden itself. People and plants connecting will lead to success on many fronts. Health and well-being, education, conservation, science and tourism are among the many benefits that will accrue. Wide community engagement in the initial stages is crucial to achieve these outcomes. I was uplifted and encouraged by the enthusiasm and pride in the project shown by this remarkable community. They’ve ticked all the boxes.”

A GARDEN FOR THE 21st CENTURY Consulting landscape architect with the Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria, Jill Burness said one of the most impressive things about the Gargarro project is that it does not emulate the established English and European style of botanic garden of earlier times. “It will be a bold and beautiful place in the local landscape, she said. A garden for the 21 Century with one eye to the future in a thoroughly modern context. More and more of our native grasslands and flora are under threat. Gargarro, with conservation as a key feature, will be well placed to contribute to ‘Caring for the Rare’”.

A key component when drafting the plans was Gargarro’s dry climate. Ideally situated within the northern plains bio region of Victoria, the local economy firmly based on farming and allied industries, the opportunity for continued community involvement is huge.

“A cohesive community with a focus on conservation was to be applauded and not underestimated,” Ms Burness said. “Benefits will accrue to the local economy and continued development will enhance Girgarre as a place of significance; a destination in itself, with interesting things to see and do. Gargarro is a place with a firmly seated context in the wider community, supporting local and nearby businesses, a place where events can be hosted and attractive in its own right.”


Lisa Howard of Taylor Cullity and Lethlean Associates, said it was privilege for TCL to be involved. Using a bird’s eye view of the land, the meandering channels and waterways contributed to the first phase of the design concept as did the ready availability of water and its importance to the local economy. “The garden as it develops will have a huge WOW factor”, she said. “A place of pride for the local community.

The presentation concluded with an virtual tour of the proposed gardens, focussing on key design features reflecting the local farming landscape. Each section will focus on one of the five senses - See, Smell, Touch, Taste and Listen, each enhancing the journey through the gardens. Phase One is the development is the See Garden which will feature a wide range of native trees, shrubs and groundcovers. Work is scheduled to begin in the coming year.

In conclusion, Doc McDonald said he was heartened by the response to the launch. “Such a milestone event in the development of the next stage of the gardens is a great achievement for the local community,” he said. “Factories and businesses come and go over the years, that’s the nature of any community. Gargarro will be a spectacular and enduring legacy to the people of Girgarre. A further testament to the innovative spirit of this community”.

In the interim, the focus is on the ongoing work of developing procedures for the curation and order for the science involved. Work on the infrastructure at the site is continuing, lighting is currently being installed and the shedding for the Green Thumbs Nursery will be completed before Christmas.

A virtual tour of the planned gardens can be viewed on the Gargarro web site https://www.gargarrobotanicgarden.com.au.

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