Ballarat's historical Botanic Gardens are a MUST VISIT attraction of the city. Thoughout the year, they are a source of seasonal delight for the senses and are located adjacent to Lake Wendouree.
The North Gardens Precinct of Ballarat is my number one recommendation for visitors to the city, with both the Botanic Gardens and Lake Wendouree itself, equal top of the list. This wonderful green space is both the "heart and lungs" of the city!
The extensive Botanical Gardens, still reflect its Victorian goldfield's era establishment and heritage includes:
- Exotic plants species that highlights the Victorian passion for plant collecting from around the world.
- The Statuary, a bequest of the city's early mining magnate James Russell Thomson, housing an exceptional collection of marble statues by Charles Summers and Professor Benzoni of Rome's exquisite "Flight From Pompeii".
- Further magnificent statues, reflecting the seasons and Roman goddesses in magnificent garden settings throughout.
- The Prime Ministers Avenue, with busts paying tribute to every Australian Prime Minister since Federation.
- Heritage listed trees, including seqoias, bunya bunyas, a Tasmanian Blue Gum, Red Cedar, Elms and Oaks and more.
- The Robert Clarke Conservatory, with regularly changing displays, including Ballarat's world famous tuberous begonias mid March- April. The Ballarat Begonia Festival is centred here over the Labour Day Weekend annually.
- A Victorian Fernery and fishpond.
- A sensory garden.
- Displays of seasonal annuals and perennials, roses, azaleas and camelias, succulents and more.
- Main entrance gates, flanked by a pair of marble lions, with gates displaying the Ballarat Coat of Arms.
Also worth exploring is the newish wetlands area to the east of the Botanic Gardens, home to many bird species and planted out with species indigenous to the immediate local area, refelecting the "swamp" origins of Lake Wendouree!
At the other end of the gardens, you will find the Tramways Museum, Trout Hatchery and the Australian Ex- Prisoner of War Memorial. There is an excellent playground for children and several public barbecue areas by the lake. Seating is plentiful and it is usually easy to find a secluded spot to enjoy some reading, or quiet contemplation.
Enjoy walking, cycling and even catching a vintage tram in this part of Ballarat. Dogs are welcome, on leads.
Get there via public transport with the nearby Wendouree Railway Station, if you are coming from Melbourne, or Ararat, or by local buses, running along Gillies Street. Take the Gillies St entrance into the Botanic Gardens, if using public transport.
Parking is generally plentiful, except during "special events"!
There is no entrance fee for either the Botanic Gardens or Lake Wendouree.