A long-stalled project to revitalise the dilapidated Ballarat Botanical Gardens fernery is back on the agenda with a new design.
The fernery project has been allocated $1.4 million in the City of Ballarat’s 2018/19 draft budget, money which has been on the table since 2015.
But after a number of false starts, including a lack of funding for a $4 million modern re-imagining of the fernery by Laidlaw & Laidlaw Design and Bower Architecture, hopes are high that movement is imminent.
A new staged plan to rebuild the gothic entrance to the fernery will include steel structure work and some wooden columns reclaimed.
President of Friends of the Ballarat Botanical Gardens (FBBG) group Robert Selkirk said the $4 million modern designs were the “Rolls-Royce” of what could happen at the space, it “had to be scaled back” after failing to get government funding.
“We’ve tipped in an additional $200,000 to hopefully cover stage one structural elements, and what needs to come after will obviously be all the planting,” he said.
It’s absolutely necessary that we get on and get it done, because it Botanical Gardens are being let down by the disgraceful state of fernery.Robert Selkirk, Friends of the Ballarat Botanical Gardens
“The fernery desperately needs these fixes, I can’t emphasise that enough.”
Ballarat mayor Samantha McIntosh said she believed some plantings could be completed in stage one.
“This is an affordable way forward, more true and more in keeping to the integrity of Ballarat Botanical gardens,” she said. “It’s an exciting project because not many people have done restoration projects of this type.”
Elizabeth Gilfillan, who has been involved with FBBG for 15 years, said a design to recreate the gothic fernery was put forward nine years ago, and was costed at around $5 million.
“The group is at the point now where we will just be very excited now to see something happening,” she said. “I can’t believe it has taken this long, but also, the botanical gardens don’t rate highly within council’s budget and the community don’t understand the value.”