The varied and multicultural history of Ballarat East needs to be recognised more widely, says local Paul Grieg, with the Barkly precinct holding some of the most important sites in Ballarat's growth as a city.
Mr Greig says the area is of historical significance but few people know how crucial Ballarat East was to today's city: its Chinese and Jewish communities, its library and the beauty of its gardens.
"The gardens were regarded as being a wonderful place for the community to gather," Mr Greig says.
"There were lots of fetes and concerts there, and the papers would write about how beautiful the gardens were, and what a benefit they were to Ballarat."
Mr Greig says the gardens received at least four Royal visits - in 1867, 1881, 1901 and 1920 - but there are no plaques or signage to indicate which trees they planted.
"The gardens have been neglected for a long time; thankfully, the council is in the process of restoring them," Mr Greig says.
He says the Chinese community were a major component of Ballarat East's population, something often overlooked. The stunning arch built by the Chinese for the Duke of Cornwall's visit to the Ballarat East Gardens 1901 is just one example of their contribution; they also made financial contributions to facilities like the Ballarat East Free Public library
The Chinese community donated a generous sum of money after holding what was perhaps the biggest function in the library hall, a banquet in honour of the visit of two Chinese Commissioners to Ballarat.
Inviting over 100 guests, it was a great success. The Ballarat Star of June 16, 1887:
"The cost of the banquet which was carried out on a scale of marked liberality, was defrayed by the Chinese who were very attentive to the wants of their European friends, their display of courtesy to all during the evening forming the subject of complimentary remarks"
Ballarat's Rabbi Goldrech summed up the night, saying he was glad to observe the brotherly feeling existing between the "different creeds and people present, saying it augured well for the advance of nations."
Mr Greig says the Chinese contribution to Ballarat East can't be underestimated, citing an earlier Ballarat Star report of March, 1874.
"The Chinese residents in Ballarat East have recently given proof of their interest in the public institutions of the town that entitles them to a more than passing meed of praise. It will not be forgotten that an effort was made to add to the Easter Fair attractions by inducing them to don the costumes and habiliments peculiar to their native land on the occasion.
"This was found to be impracticable, unless at great expense and trouble; but as a proof of their desire to serve...they expressed their readiness to subscribe to the Easter Fair fund in aid of the Public Library.
"When it is considered that the Chinese cannot derive any direct benefit from the institution, it is very creditable to have thus generously responded to the call made upon them. Their example may not be lost upon some public bodies"
The Ballarat East library itself was the first free library in Ballarat, says Mr Greig.
"It started off in a room in the Fire Brigade; moving to the current location in 1869. It was opened by Sir Edmund Barry ( the judge who presided over the trial of Ned Kelly). His opening speech is considered iconic. Three hundred copies were printed by the Ballarat Star in 1869. It is still available! The library became a community hub; not just a library, it was a center for many social activities. There were at least two billiard tables; rooms were hired at a nominal fee for friendly societies, the Red Cross and a host of others."
The Library also housed the Ballarat East School of Design.