Skipton estate Banongill opens to the public

HISTORIC Banongill estate's gardens will be open to the public this weekend.

This may be the public's last chance to visit the historic Skipton estate for a long time, with not-for-profit organiser Open Gardens Australia announcing earlier this week it will disband next year. 

Property owner Sue Gull said this would be the third time the estate opened up the gardens, all with Open Gardens Australia.

"We may not open the property on this scale again," Ms Gull said. 

Banongill gardens

Banongill gardens

The Gull family bought the property in 2006, the second owners since the Fairbairn family who had the property for almost a century. 

"We're opening the property as part of the 175th anniversary celebrations of the Skipton township," Ms Gull said. 

"We planned to open it before the announcement of Open Gardens Australia's closure, so it's quite timely. It might by some people's last chance to see it."

The open day will include food by the Skipton Fire Brigade Auxiliary and kindergarten group, accompanied by Red Duck Brewery boutique beer, Summerfield wines and Ballarat Grammar students providing entertainment. 

Ms Gull said the property had a long history, dating back to Major Mitchell settling the area in the 1830s. 

"In 1853 the bluestone cottage was built and then in 1905 the homestead was built. The cottage forms part of the kitchen now."

The property is situated on about 5.5 hectares, with naturalised daffodils stretching for about half a kilometre along Emu Creek. 

Landscape gardener and botanist William Guilfoyle, acknowledged as the architect of the Royal Melbourne Botanic Gardens, partly designed the gardens.

The design picks up on Guilfoyle's signature features including vast sweeping lawns, wide graven paths and three Canary Island Date Palms.

"In spring it is absolutely beautiful - the daffodils are magical," Ms Gull said.

"The huge flood in 2011 washed away the footbridge. We will open the new footbridge this weekend."

Banongill gardens

Banongill gardens

Ms Gull will run two garden talks each day at 11am and 2pm, and Stewart Gull will run historical tours of the shearing shed at noon and 2pm.

After 27 years and almost 20,000 open gardens, OGA will close next year due to financial difficulties.

OGA started in Victoria and spread over the country and raised more than $6 million for charity.

AT A GLANCE

WHAT: Banongill gardens open to the public

WHERE: Banongill Road, Skipton

WHEN: September 6 & 7, 10am - 4.30pm

ENTRY: $12, under 18 free

INFO: opengarden.org.au 

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