Photo Credit: Fred O’Donnell
The Colac Botanic Gardens may be almost 150 years old, but there is always something new and fresh on offer. Now is a wonderful time to visit, with an abundance of flowers and new leaves welcoming the Spring season. This is the time of year when the gardens are bursting with colour – daffodils, camellias, azaleas, rhododendrons, magnolias and of course the one we always associate with Spring – our National floral emblem, the golden wattle. –acacia pycnantha. There are many other acacias in the gardens – keep looking and you will find one variety or another in flower at any given time of the year.
An outstanding feature of the gardens is the carriageway bordered by magnificent English oaks (quercus robur)
The gardens are usually referred to as a Guilfoyle garden, but interestingly, the original design came from Daniel Bunce in the 1860s, was modified by John McDonald in the 1880s and then was further remodelled in accordance with plans developed by William Guilfoyle in 1910. Today, as we stroll along the pathways we can still enjoy the “long views and short vistas” which Guilfoyle spoke of, as well as his “pretty peeps” to the lake.
From the main entrance, a walk through the centre of the gardens brings us from open lawns to much thicker shrubberies, where a magnificent Huntingdon elm (listed on the National Estate register) and other significant trees can be discovered. The newly refurbished rose arbour will be a “must” during Summer. A gift from the Friends of the Gardens as a 150th Birthday present, the arbour will feature a number of Alister Clark climbers and other roses renowned for their magnificent perfume. The soothing sound of the fountain in the lily pond will relax the most frazzled of spirits, and children will enjoy a visit to the playground on the eastern end of the gardens.
Venture into the Otways bed down near the playground and experience a remarkable change in the “feel” of the gardens. This re-creation of a cool temperate rainforest is well worth a visit.
A different way to approach the gardens is to leave your vehicle on the lake foreshore carpark, go to the rotunda, and then climb the steps to the recently installed lookout with magnificent views across the lake to the Warrion Hills.
Visitors are invited to pick up a map and the special wattle brochure from the Colac Visitor Information Centre or the Botanic Café before setting off on their discovery tour.
Photo Credit: Richard Francis