Botanical gardens are thriving | Shepparton News
by voiturerobert.com ·
The council renamed the site and apparently wanted to create a housing estate to replace it. Landscape architect Elizabeth Beck was commissioned to prepare a report that showed the site was suitable for the Botanic Gardens, which could co-exist with what remained of the International Village. This report appears to have been buried because it failed to support the Council’s decision.
There were 27.2 hectares (60 acres) available. Roads and bridges were built. The moat that would enhance the gardens surrounds an area of 12.7 hectares. Electricity and water are connected. It also has a picnic/barbecue area, a kiosk/restaurant, several buildings representing different cultures, a rose garden planted by local groups and a popular playground for children.
If we had botanical gardens, this would certainly have been a cost-effective way forward – an ideal location.
The Greater Shepparton Botanic Gardens Society adopted the name ‘Friends of Parkside Gardens’ as it continued to fight for a sensible solution, and Shepparton residents were writing to the council, signing petitions and doing all they could to help.
The council issued a press release that included a plan to build 83 plots of land. The committee responded by highlighting community concerns about the cultural buildings and emphasizing the suitability of the site for the Botanic Gardens.
The council asked the community to develop plans for future development of the site. The committee sent a large booklet entitled A community project for the 21st century. It included a detailed and professional plan by another landscape architect, as well as all the reasons for preserving what remained of the village and adding the botanical gardens. A brief presentation was also received from Vic Urban.
At the annual general meeting of the Greater Shepparton Botanic Gardens Society, Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne, Richard Parley, endorsed the Society’s aims. The location was really convenient. “Most park developers can only dream of having something like this to work with,” Barley said.
The meeting was attended by three council members.
The Council decided to develop North Shepparton Parkside Gardens into a public housing estate. Everything said, done or written has been ignored.
Victoria Minister for Local Government and Public Housing Candy Broad visited to announce the new project.
Local Government Act 189(2)(a) ensures that public notice is given before land is sold or exchanged. It was not known at the time that Ms Broad had granted an exemption to Greater Shepparton City Council.
There were protests and petitions, and money was raised to get expert help. Without exception, our local parliamentarians were doing everything they could. Janet Powell presented petitions to Parliament (which were also presented to the Council). Wendy Lovell was active, and after his retirement, Peter Ross Edwards was far from silent on the issue.
At this point, Jenny Houlihan, who was one of the many heroes of this story, provided extensive information to the Heritage Council of Victoria to list and thus protect the entire site.
I am walking
I’ve just taken a long walk (a long one for me, anyway) after reading an article published in this newspaper in May 2004.
Our city’s mayor said she did not view the Heritage Authority’s comments that the integrity of Parkside Gardens was “seriously threatened by the loss and removal of many of its built elements” as criticism of previous councils’ decision to remove some buildings from the former International Village.
“It is a criticism of all sectors of society that have not been able to maintain interest in all the buildings,” she said.
I don’t understand! Who is the Heritage Council to blame? Did the mayor expect the Rotary Club to continue doing council work forever? Was she blaming the community groups that were fighting to save the site? People who have given their time, money, passion and commitment to our city – not to mention their hearts and souls – for many years. Were they also expected to maintain the buildings, keep vandals under control, and take care of the moat and mow the grass?
Naturally, the Heritage Council was critical of previous councils – because they were absent from work. They were wrong; They completely lacked vision, and didn’t seem to understand that to make money, you usually need to spend some money.
Getting a heritage or menu overlay is not easy. It is serious and important work.
Following visits and inspections, in late September the Heritage Council recommended local heritage protection for Parkside Gardens – for the entire site – because it was “of historical and social importance to the local community”. It therefore recommended to the council that the site should be protected under the council’s planning scheme.
The Bangerang Cultural Center is listed as Victorian Heritage. There was talk of moving it elsewhere, so protection was essential. The Filipino House has a heritage overlay.
“Without protecting our local heritage, the history of this state will be severely diminished, and the Heritage Council does not make this recommendation lightly,” Crystal Buckley, chair of the Heritage Council’s registration committee, said in November.
She criticized Greater Shepparton City Council for ignoring the heritage value of Parkside Gardens.
“It is of concern to us that the site heritage study was only undertaken by the City of Greater Shepparton after it was nominated for the State Register by the Friends of Parkside Gardens.”
The council chose to proceed with housing development on the entire site.
Jenny Houlihan was elected to the council, and continues to advocate for the Botanic Gardens.
It has been a long and difficult journey, and it was not easy to tell at all.
However, finally, the Keala landfill was presented to the community as a potential site. The Secretary of the Greater Shepparton Botanic Gardens Society has submitted an application for this site as a botanical garden opportunity for the City of Greater Shepparton – and its members can provide the necessary voluntary and professional knowledge.
The Australian Botanic Gardens were born in Shepparton. The ‘Friends’ were handed over to the Friends of the Australian Botanic Garden of Shepparton Committee. And here, after a long wait, there was victory and celebration.
What we have now is a council-owned development, which has become a popular community asset – and more importantly, a tourist destination.
Long may you prosper!
Our hard working team is always looking for volunteers. If you would like to help, here is a link to the Friends of the Australian Botanic Gardens in Shepparton: https:fabgs.org.au/get-involved/
It is nice to read that the Victorian Department of Health has expressed an interest in purchasing the remains of Parkside Gardens, although a few plots of land have recently been sold (for the benefit of the Finance Board).
I am indebted to two people who have helped me in my work over the past two weeks. Pat and Jenny patiently answered dozens of questions, shared their life experience and provided beautiful photos. And I want to thank the many, many people who fought, lost and fought again. Shepparton owes you a lot.
You can find the full story on Facebook. Search for “international parks”.
There’s an old joke about driving that I used to find funny.
“One leader looks out the window to see city residents walking down the street. ‘Let us know where they are going so I can lead them,’ he says.”
But is it so ridiculous? What if our leadership in the 1980s had adopted this position? What if they said:
“What is your dream? How can we help you?”
Think of what Shepparton would be like today.
However, it is better not to delve into this matter. Regret is useless. Let’s focus on what we have. Let’s be grateful for our city and the wonderful people who call it home.
May it be easy, my friends
The message: talk of the town. Shepparton News. PO Box 204, Shepparton 3631.
Phone: Text 0418 962 507. (Note: Text only. I will call you if you wish.)