When the Committee met outside the Rotunda in November 2020 it was our first face to face meeting in seven months. Covid-19 restrictions have been limiting, and I thank all members for their cooperation and understanding. Members were kept informed by regular reports sent out by our Secretary Mandy King. These were very helpful.

In retrospect we had a very good year. Our membership totalled 125.

The Nature Based Play Space has been an instant success. Its completion was celebrated in October when the children from Beamish Street Kindergarten cut the ribbon and it was opened to the public. Since then it has been in constant use.

It was funded under the State’s Pick my Project initiative and was completed within budget due to the cooperation and generosity of many people within our community. Warrnambool City Council selected The Friends for the Australia Day Local Achiever Award, recognising their work in contributing 3000 voluntary hours creating the play space.  Exceptional contributions were made by  our member Neil McLeod who took on the role of Project Manager, of Curator John Sheely and his team and Paula Gardiner WCC.

Our aim of reinstating the well in the Gardens and to have it accessible to all has been a challenge. It is now a great attraction and respected by most. Unfortunately there has been some minor damage and we are seeking lighting and possibly a camera to secure the area.

The bat colony waxes and wanes and we have been able to install an explanatory board and some spray irrigation thanks to a State Government grant.

We were delighted that our Secretary Mandy King was selected for the inaugural Handbury Award for “exceptional dedication to fostering the cause of Botanic Gardens through long term volunteering at a national level”. The award is named to honour Geoff Handbury who generously donated to many causes including gardens. Mandy has made an outstanding contribution to the FoWBG.  She first took on the role of Secretary in 1997. Since then she has facilitated our progress from typewriters to word processors, from photos to Facebook. She was also for ten years, a committee member of the Australian Association of Friends of Botanic Gardens. This year she is not renominating for the role of Secretary, although we are confident of her ongoing support. Thank you Mandy for 24 years of total commitment.

Our other concerns could be summarised as paths, pines and people. The original gravel paths, later replaced with asphalt, need repair or replacement over the coming months to make them friendly to plants and people. Our ‘Lone Pine’, in its old age, has produced numerous offspring that Lou Hollis is documenting and distributing. People: our members, dedicated staff and visitors, have combined to make the Gardens more beautiful, accessible and serene than ever before. The Committee is most appreciative of the work done by the Curator, John Sheely and his team for maintaining and developing Warrnambool Botanic Gardens as an outstanding Guilfoyle Garden.

Pat Varley


We would love to be celebrating our thirtieth anniversary right now. We should be gathering to gaze in awe down the well while thanking all our contributors. We should be preparing for the opening of the Nature Play Space. COVID-19 has put a stop to all that. It is also explains why we are not meeting for this AGM, but communicating with all our members by post.

The restoration of the well and the progression of the nature based play space have demanded most of our attention in the past year.

The well is now a focal point for visitors and another chapter in the story of water and water supply. An automated watering system now covers 80% of the Gardens and the Friends have contributed towards its installation.

The nature based play space attracted a grant of $198,000 through the Victorian Government’s ‘Pick my Project’. We were initially hesitant to apply being aware of the work involved just in writing grant applications, let alone execution. However once we were successful we moved promptly to appoint an architect and consult with our community. Then every thing stalled when Heritage Victoria had concerns about the compatibility of a play space with a Guilfoyle garden. We disagreed, as did more than 150 submissions to Heritage Victoria supporting our plans. This lengthy delay was costly, but since we gained permission to begin work in early April progress has been spectacular. One of our members, Neil McLeod volunteered to be project manager. Neil has spent days on site, all in a voluntary capacity. Curator John Sheely has assisted in coordinating and facilitating the work while the guidance and support of Paula Gardiner of WCC has been invaluable. There has also been a heavy workload on our Secretary Mandy King and Treasurer Fiona Rule as they approve expenditure and keep an eye on the budget. The outcome is a unique play space encompassing the spirit of the south west with cypress pine logs and basalt rocks.

In the first half of the year we were able to conduct activities in the Gardens for school groups and visiting bus tours. We have published our quarterly newsletter, maintained the web site www.wbgardens.com.au and updated the Botanic Gardens brochure, all in the spirit of ‘maintaining and developing WBG as an outstanding Guilfoyle garden.’

The Friends of WBG have an enviable record of service. They have raised over $600,000 from grants, donations and fund raising, and made an even greater contribution as volunteers, guiding, educating and promoting the Gardens.

In the thirty years since the Friends were first formed with Ellen Dwyer and Isobel Jones as president and secretary and John Hawker advisor, the world has changed. Women are less likely to have free time during the day and even before the present pandemic face to face interaction and communication was being replaced by phone and email. In this environment voluntary organisations are concerned about their future and in particular succession planning. The Committee intends to address this issue in the coming year.

It has been said the dinosaur died out because it was unable to adapt to change. We do not want to emulate the dinosaur.

Pat Varley


It is with pleasure and pride that I present this report on behalf of the Friends of the Gardens, past and present. Pleasure because our members and the team at the gardens are great to work with, and pride to know that our group is now in its 30th year. Thirty years is a long time for any voluntary organisation to last and over that time the Friends have faithfully and enthusiastically worked to achieve their goal of maintaining and developing WBG as an outstanding Guilfoyle Garden.

It would be difficult to put a dollar value on the hours of voluntary labour contributed or organised by the Friends, but they have attracted more than $400,000 in grants, donations and sales.

One of their earliest projects was the restoration of the fountain and the sundial. They have also contributed to the restoration of the Rotunda,to gas lamps the boundary fence, seating, gun carriage, preservation of the Lone Pine and restoration of the fernery- twice .

Among the more notable functions have been dances, fairs, teddy bear picnics, and in 2016 Celebrations of 150 years on the present site.

We continue to produce a quarterly Newsletter and conduct tours of the Gardens on request. Our visitors range in age from under one to over 100. Preps and ones are a special delight.

We support staff development and have commissioned art work notably from Ruth Walker (Lone Pine) and Natasha Bienick (miniature).

We also contribute to an automated watering system, which saves water and labour. If you asked me what was The Friends’ greatest achievement over those 30 years I would say the appointment of a curator after that era of competitive tendering deprived the Gardens of a dedicated curator.

We were so fortunate to get John Sheely.

In some ways the past year has been one of anticipation rather than celebration of our projects.

It was great to have an all access toilet located off  Botanic road .We had lobbied hard for this and thank Council for providing it.

The restoration of the well is near completion. It has been a long process.

Our main focus for the year was ‘Pick my Project’, an initiative of the Victorian Government. Our submission for a nature based play space received popular support with 347 votes. This resulted in funding of $198,000. We are awaiting final plans from the architect and approval from Heritage Victoria so we can move forward.

Our website www.wbgardens.com has been upgraded and is interactive. It is possible to take a virtual your of the Gardens.

I acknowledge the great support we get from the community and from Council. Above all I thank our members and the committee for their generous support.

In closing I will quote from a booklet on the Melb.Botanic Gardens written by Frank Clark, half  brother to Sir Rupert Clarke.

Frank, long term member of the Legislative Council began his career growing potatoes and onions at Korongah Park Pt Fairy.

 In 1924 Frank wrote;

Guilfoyle made the Gardens what they are today. …he wrought harmonies with the black-green of ti-tree, eucalypt and conifer, the verdancy of grass and fern, bronze and gold and the silver the sun and wind make with the underside of a leaf .

…Paderewski said of him that he did with his trees what a pianist tried to do with his music…..and if the soul of craftsmanship survives, he, perchance with Rubens, Wagner and Turner, now is given by the wise Gods the planning of the sunsets and the clouds.

Stay with us and look forward to the next thirty years.

Pat Varley


It is very pleasing to present the 26th annual report of the Friends of Warrnambool Botanic Gardens. The original Steering Committee of the Friends was formed in 1989 and their inaugural AGM held in 1992. Currently we have 130 members.

The Friends have continued to promote the Gardens through guided walks and talks. Our clientele is wide and varied including primary school children, interstate bus tours, Archie Graham Centre and the Dendrology Society of Australia and New Zealand.

Our quarterly Newsletter is designed to keep members informed, as are monthly events which this year included talks by photographer Perry Cho, and visits to other displays. Among the latter was History House, Elizabeth Walls’ garden and the Celia Rosser exhibition in the Hamilton Art Gallery. The President and Secretary attended the conference of the Association of Friends of Botanic Gardens in Benalla in April.

Our top priority, the all abilities toilet has again been deferred. This saga has now extended over seven years. The existing toilets are not compliant and the need is urgent.

Equally frustrating is the slow progress on the reinstatement of the well. There is progress however and we anticipate completion of the work before the end of the year. Lighting has been installed down the well and thanks to the Triton Woodworkers the seating has been completed. The generous support of the Isobel Jones Family and of Judi Phillips has been so encouraging.

Our work has been supported by a grant of $3,000 from the Community Development Fund, $6,600 from Stronger Communities and $5,000 from the Isobel and David Jones Family Foundation.

Looking to the future we plan to have an interactive map of the Gardens accessible on an electronic device and web page, which together with plant labels will make available a wealth of information. We know from comments on Facebook that the Gardens are appreciated by visitors from far and wide. Secretary Mandy King works constantly to promote our past and present on our website.

We are also making a bid for funds for a nature based play space in the Gardens. This will be a competitive bid so watch out for a call for support.

This year we lost life member Marie Johnstone while another life member Marigold Curtis retired from the Committee. We will miss them.

We do well to acknowledge our strengths; an outstanding Curator and his supportive team, a hard working committee, a loyal membership and a wonderful Guilfoyle Garden.

Thank you all.

Pat Varley.


The past year was a very busy one as we continued to celebrate the 150 years through which the Gardens, our growing legacy, have provided a place of peace and pleasure to our community.

Last year’s very successful ‘Night in the Gardens’ and the photographic competition ‘A Guilfoyle Garden: Guests and Greenery’, were followed by a ‘Family Fun Day’ in November, involving many local organisations.  There was a good attendance despite an unseasonably wet and cold day. Music, fine food, plant and produce stalls, competitions and scavenger hunts were enjoyed. Picnics on the lawns were not.

The tall palms dressed in brightly coloured yarn, Truffula trees, the inspiration of Janet Macdonald, were a great attraction. The initiative, planning and energetic involvement of Committee 150 made a memorable year possible and we thank them all for their hard work and enthusiasm.

As part of the celebrations, the Newsletter, over three issues, published a history of the Gardens, and the Friends ran four seminars for U3A – the University of the Third Age.

This year as in the past the Friends have had a close association with Warrnambool Art Gallery and joined them in commissioning Natasha Bieniek’s miniature masterpiece – the Gardens.

We also commissioned work on the Lone Pine from noted botanical artist Ruth Walter. Warrnambool and District Artists’ Society made the Gardens the subject for an exhibition which produced some great work and we appreciate their interest.

For some years now the Friends have been agitating for an updated masterplan, so we were pleased when in June 2017 the City Council adopted a plan to guide the development of the Gardens for the next 15 years. There was ample opportunity for the Friends and the wider community to have input to the plan. Thank you to Lisa McLeod for facilitating the process. The plan recognises that;

As the Botanic Gardens are an important element of Warrnambool’s living heritage, they should be celebrated and valued during the next century as they have been in the past 150 years.

We were delighted that high in the recommendations was the construction of a new toilet block, better access by improving pathways and an upgrade and extension of an automated irrigation system.

There was also a recommendation to provide better signage to link the Gardens to Swan Reserve. We work closely with the Friends of Swan Reserve where the native plant collection complements that of the Gardens. In August, together with the Australian Plant Society, we hosted a talk on Guilfoyle and the RMBG by Lynsey Poore, a volunteer guide at those gardens.

The Guiding Friends enjoy guiding school groups, local clubs and individuals on request and they have met increasing inquiries from bus tours, many from tour groups outside Warrnambool, for garden walks and talks. They also participate in the Australia day celebrations.

I hope you have visited our webpage, wbgardens.com.au , but if you have, this whole report is unnecessary. You can find the history of the Gardens, our past newsletters, recent events, the complete masterplan and a lot more. Our secretary Mandy King does a wonderful job in keeping this current. Similarly on Facebook you can enjoy some fantastic photos of the Gardens, many taken by John Sheely and the team. They display the diversity and the beauty of the collection.

Back in 2009 the Friends resolved, that as an extension of the water wise garden the old well should again be made accessible to the public. It seemed a simple enough proposal then, but in retrospect the well, depending on your perspective, has proved to be a mountain too high or a bottomless pit.

In 2011, Heritage Victoria some 15 months after our application, approved the removal of the shed covering the well, but declined our application for funding. Then a generous donation from the David and Isobel Jones Family Trust enabled us to engage an architect who succeeded in getting approval from Heritage Victoria by March 2016 to proceed with the first stage of the restoration. We had hopes of completing the project as part of the 150th year celebrations. This did not happen, and work continues. Did I mention that the original well was sunk to a depth of 50feet and completed in one month?

There are so many people to thank this year. First and foremost is our Curator John Sheely and the Team who keep the Gardens looking great, who welcome visitors and who work cooperatively with the Friends. We welcome the support of Warrnambool City Council and we value the access we have to the media. Our anniversary celebrations were made possible by the work of Committee 150 and sponsorship by local organisations. My special thanks go to the Committee and particularly our executive, Mandy King, Janet Macdonald and Fiona Rule.

Pat Varley

President 2017


Our busy year commenced with the Lone Pine commemoration held on August 8th. We were very pleased to have as guests members of the Gray and McDowell families, relatives of the soldier who brought a cone from Gallipoli and the lady who propagated the original four trees from the seeds from that cone.  Also present was one local resident who, as a young boy, attended the dedication of the tree in 1934. It was a shock to learn that one of the 4 four original trees fell victim to the storm last week. There are only two of the originals left now, ours and the one in Wattle Park, Burwood.  It is reassuring that WBG, while taking measures to nurture our Lone Pine, has also been planning for the future. Some progeny have been grown from seeds from our tree.

Preparations for our 150th year celebrations began early last year with the formation of a special sub-committee, and some of the projects we have embarked on as part of the celebrations will extend beyond the end of this year.

Our plans to restore and landscape the old well have been slow to actualise, mainly due to a long wait for heritage approval, which came through in April.  Recently the site has been cleared and the architect reported a few days ago that specifications and final drawings are complete and we are ready to put the project out to tender. We are very grateful for the ongoing financial support provided by the Isobel & David Jones Family Foundation for this project.  

Our year of celebrations really got underway in March with the Gala Night in the Gardens. A huge amount of organisation went into this event, most of it carried out by a small band of volunteers, capably led by our treasurer Fiona Rule who had a clear concept for the sort of evening it would be and managed to carry the rest of the committee with her in the realisation of her ideas. Fiona’s vision and tight management of the budget for this extravaganza resulted in the Gala returning a slight profit on the night.

The entries in our 150th anniversary photographic competition Botanic Gardens: Guilfoyle, Guests & Greenery are currently on exhibition at The Artery gallery. This activity was the brainchild of Professor John Sherwood, who along with Warrnambool Camera Club volunteers worked solidly through a recent weekend to mount all entries and hang the show. We thank Sinclair Wilson for sponsorship of the competition and The Artery volunteers for assistance with the exhibition.

Those who had a great night at the Gala Night, and any who missed out are invited to return to the Gardens on Sunday 13th November, bringing their family and friends for a Family Fun Day. We promise at least 150 fun things to do on the day, so we are hoping for a large crowd.

At last year’s annual meeting we reported that the City Council had allocated funds for the development of a new masterplan for the Botanic Gardens. That process has recently begun. The consultants appointed to undertake the masterplan met with representatives of our committee last week for a discussion about key issues.

While it has been a special year with the above events demanding the committee’s time and attention our regular roles and functions have continued. The article in the recent newsletter about the history of water usage in the Gardens demonstrates the Friends’ commitment to water conservation and support given for the installation and extension of the automated watering system. The Friends recently paid for a Rainbird IQ System enabling the operation and monitoring of the irrigation system from offsite.

Our first Wednesday of the month meetings have been very enjoyable and thanks go to Marie Johnstone and Billie Rowley who have organised particularly interesting guest speakers, as well as providing the best scones in town for morning tea.

Our Guiding program is currently under review. For the past couple of years we seem to have been attracting fewer starters for the advertised Sunday guided walks, and more school and organised groups seeking tours at other times. At a recent committee meeting we took a decision to suspend the Sunday tours. Instead guided tours can be arranged by appointment, through our website, via email or by phone. This is a trial, to be reviewed at the end of the year.

In April all committee members attended a lunch at the Warrnambool Club, ostensibly just a “works outing” but really an excuse to bestow life membership upon former president and long serving committee member Billie Rowley. The original intention had been to perform this task at last year’s AGM, however Billie’s busy social schedule did not allow this. Congratulations to Billie on her dedication to the committee over many years.

There is still plenty of water to flow under the bridge before our anniversary years comes to an end, and many opportunities for members and public to join in the celebrations. There are many people to thank for their contributions in the past twelve months. The members of our 150th anniversary committee – Cr Kylie Gaston, Neil McLeod, Geraldine Moloney and Professor John Sherwood – have been a terrific team of organisers and provided many hours of practical assistance and hard labour. Throughout all the public and private events held during the year –  Lone Pine, Australia Day, Wunta, Gala Night, weddings, birthday parties and picnics – the Gardens have always looked magnificent. This is due to the dedication of the team: Ros, Murtle and John.

Our Annual General Meeting and newsletters have traditionally been the main avenues of communication with our members, however the www.wbgardens.com.au website and Facebook page  reach a much wider audience and contain up to date information about what to look out for on a visit to the Gardens, plus useful links to other garden related information.

Once you have visited the Facebook page and seen how great the Gardens look, you will want to rush off for a real visit. Hope to see you there!

Janet Macdonald

July - 2016


Although the purpose of this report is to record the events and activities occurring over the past twelve months, much of our focus has been in preparing two future anniversaries: the Lone Pine centenary next month and the Botanic Gardens 150th anniversary in 2016.  The Friends committee has enlisted the assistance of community members and Friends Neil McLeod, Professor John Sherwood, Geraldine Moloney and Cr Kylie Gaston to assist with planning a series of special events. This 150th planning committee has been meeting regularly since February and the first event, a photo competition begins next month.

If we cast our minds back to the year 1865 we might ponder what was happening in our town.  The newly formed Warrnambool Borough Council was preparing to move the botanic gardens from the old site near the cemetery to newly granted land north of the city.  By 1866 the new 20 acre site was being transformed from "a howling wilderness" to the beautiful gardens we have today.

Warrnambool City Council has allocated funds in their 2015/16 budget for the development of a master plan for WBG.  This confirms the importance that our Council still places upon our Gardens as one of the city's most valued assets.  The purpose of master planning is to provide a framework for the future development of the Gardens, taking into consideration the original design elements, history, current plant collections and changes over time to the way public spaces are designed and managed.  It is entirely appropriate that as we celebrate the 150th anniversary of the establishment of the Gardens at the Cockman Street site, we look to the future with a planning document to inform the decision making of future custodians.

With substantial financial support from the Isobel and David Jones Family Foundation, we have begun consultations with a local architect to realise our long held plans for the well precinct.  This project will be undertaken in stages.  It is difficult to estimate how long all this will take, but it is very likely that the well, built and operating in the latter part of the 19th century, will be back on public view by the end of next year.

Included in your meeting notes is your invitation to the public event to be held in the Gardens on Thursday 6th August.   A great deal of work has gone into preparing the tree for the centenary of its journey to Australia.  A series of grants totalling $10,000 has been received from the Federal Anzac Centenary Local Grants Program, Legacy, the RSL and from the Warrnambool City Council.  Work has been carried out to preserve and extend the life of the tree through the installation of irrigation to that area, judicious pruning, also a collection of cones and seed extraction, as well as enhanced signage.

All of this planning and organisation, grant writing and acquittal has been quite hard work, but the friends committee has enjoyed taking some time out to smell the roses during the year.  In December a full coach journeyed to four historic properties – Lawrenny, Spring Creek, Minjah and Rosehill - to view four very beautiful gardens.  A huge thank you to Anna Affleck, who instigated and organised this highly successful day.  In April a smaller group visited Camperdown to take in the Botanic Gardens, Heritage Centre and the garden at Gnotuk house.  We thank Janet O'Hehir, Sue Cole and Fiona and Alun Morris for their hospitality on that day.

Our regular meeting and activities have continued during the past year.  First Wednesday of the month meetings are still occurring and we thank Billie Rowley and Marie Johnstone for the ingenuity with which they can manage to conjure up a succession of interesting guest speakers.  Guided walks occur in rain, hail or shine on the second and fourth Sundays of each month and this year we have welcomed Professor Rob Wallis to the ranks of our guides.

I have enjoyed my first year as president, being part of a group of people all working towards the same ends.  A huge thank you to all the rest of the team, but particularly to Pat Varley, Mandy King and Fiona Rule for all the work they do in attending to the day to day business of the Friends committee.  One of our original committee members and life member, Jean Fitzpatrick has chosen not to renominate for the committee this year.  We thank Jean for her dedication and hard work on the committee since its inception in 1989.  Although Jean will no longer be attending meetings she retains the job of official keeper of the Friends scrapbooks.  Of the original committee formed back in 1989 Marie Johnstone and Judi Phillips are the stalwarts who continue to serve on the committee.  To both these ladies we say please keep up the good work!

The Gardens are a testament to the hard work and dedication of Curator John Sheely and his colleagues, particularly Ros and Myrtle.  The Warrnambool community should take time in the upcoming year to thank them for the work they put into maintaining Warrnambool’s most enduring and endearing public asset.

Looking forward to seeing everyone enjoying the special events and activities planned throughout 2016.

Janet Macdonald
July 2015


It is very pleasing to present the annual report of the Friends of Warrnambool Botanic Gardens. The original Steering Committee of the Friends was formed in 1989 and their inaugural AGM in 1992.

In 2013 we had 153 members.

One of the many advantages of a long established garden like ours is the numerous opportunities it provides for celebrating significant anniversaries.

In the past year the rotunda reached its century which we joyfully celebrated at our annual Spring Garden Day in September.

Two hundred years ago, in 1813, the old cannon was cast.  Now secure on its new stand, it is polished daily by the legs of enthusiastic cannon climbers, some very young and some not so young.  It has been in the Gardens for more than 100 years.

Eighty years ago the Lone Pine was dedicated to the AIF in an impressive ceremony in the Gardens.  In January we were able to arrange a small ceremony attended by some of the grandchildren of Sergeant Keith McDowell, the soldier who brought home "the" cone, and of Emma Gray who grew the seed.

Our Lone Pine is recognised as a significant link to Gallipoli and we were successful in a submission to the ANZAC Centenary Local Grants Program for funding to improve signage by the tree.  Warrnambool Legacy, Warrnambool RSL sub-branch and Warrnambool City Council also support our project for the Preservation Propagation and Promotion of the Lone Pine.  The tree will gain more and more attention as the centenary of the Battle of Lone Pine (August 1915) approaches.

The Gardens have benefitted from many generous donations.  The Isobel and David Jones Family Foundation provided a picnic setting which will be located on the southern lawn.  Other seats have been repainted with assistance from Rotary Club of Warrnambool East.  We have been able to install heating in Scoborio’ Shed thanks to a WCC Community Development Grant.  Andrew Laidlaw provided concept plans for the development of the well area free of charge and the well site has been cleared and made safe.  Unfortunately our first round application to the Heritage Vic Restoration Fund for development of the well area was not successful.  We will try again.

Since the closure of Cockman Street to through traffic most visitors enter the gardens from Botanic Road.  Aware that many find the uphill marathon to our aged toilets daunting at best and terrifying in emergencies, we made a submission to the WCC's Loo Review for an accessible toilet on the north east boundary.  It was recognised as worthy, but there is a queue ahead of us.

An AGM is a time to take stock and report on our assets – so, apart from our serene, heritage listed, Guilfoyle garden, what are our assets?

We have an exceptional Curator with a dedicated team.

We have long term links with community organisations including the Society for Growing Australian Plants and South West TAFE. The latter make regular use of the Gardens for horticultural training and Children’s Services.

We have a long-serving and hardworking Committee. They organise our regular guided walks, our informal ‘First Wednesday’ talks, our resource collection, publicity, newsletter and special events.  Our long serving and staunch Secretary, Mandy King oversees our website and maintains links with national and international organisations while Vice President Janet MacDonald links us with so many like minded organisations.  Our special thanks go to Fiona Rule who at short notice, took over the role of Treasurer on the resignation mid term of our former treasurer.

This concludes my Presidential term and I thank everyone for their support. I have had great pleasure and satisfaction in working with a passionate and dedicated group of garden lovers and will continue to do so.

Thank you all.

Pat Varley


The Friends of Warrnambool Botanic Gardens formed in 1989, so this is our 24th AGM.  And a good record for a voluntary organisation.  Over that time we have maintained our primary objective of promoting and preserving our Guilfoyle garden.

In 2012, we had 145 members.

This past year the Friends have worked toward achieving their vision of restoring the well and windmill in the Gardens.  With appropriate signs, this will be a working demonstration of the history of water supply and its use.  Landscape gardener Andrew Laidlaw visited the Gardens last September and agreed to draw up concept plans.  Wannon water has given its support and a donation.  Last month we were notified of the success of our application to the Ministry of Arts: local history grants for $3,000.  There is a long way to go, but we are on our way.

As an incorporated association we are governed by the Associations Incorporation Reform Act 2012 and report to Consumer Affairs Victoria.  Associations can write their own rules or adopt approved model rules.  FOWBG resolved to adopt the new model rules which we considered to be suitable for our purposes.

We are making slow but steady progress into the electronic age.  Our web site has been up now for five years, the majority of our members receive our quarterly newsletter by email and recently we have made provision for membership payments on line.  A QR code on the rotunda, the initiative of the Curator and team, enables visitors to the Gardens with a smartphone to download information and a booking form for this facility.  With all this progress, it is ironical that we had to cancel our end of year celebrations due to the catastrophic collapse of communications following the fire at Telstra.  We celebrated in March.

The Gardens are one of Warrnambool’s treasures.  Since the closure of Cockman Street the main entrance has become isolated and difficult to find.  In February, after long consultations, signs were placed at each corner of the site and at the main entrance.  They are much appreciated.  Further directional signs are still needed.

Most visitors now enter the Gardens from Botanic Road. The Friends have made a submission to the Loo Review, stressing the need for a toilet that provides access for all, to be located in the north east corner.

The Guiding Friends continued to offer guided walks on the second and fourth Sunday of the month and have had the pleasure of sharing their knowledge and enthusiasm with both locals and tourists.  We held our Annual Spring Garden Day and plant sale in September.

Partnerships, linkages and cooperation with like organisations has always been one of our goals.  Some of those organisations are far from our home city.  We exchange newsletters with other 'Friends' groups across Australia.  We are a member of The Botanic Gardens Australia and New Zealand Inc (BGANZ) and until recently our Curator was on the executive of BGANZ Vic.  We are also a member of the Association of Friends of Botanic Gardens.  Our Secretary has just retired from their national executive and our treasurer attended their annual conference in Port Augusta.

However it is the local links we value most.  We work in cooperation with Triton Woodworkers, The Society for Growing Australian Plants, Warrnambool and District Historical Society, Rotary, and Schools.  South west TAFE, with its Children’s Services courses and Horticultural programs recognises the educational opportunities the Gardens offer.  The team at the Gardens is committed, competent and cooperative.

The greatest asset of any organisation is its people.  The Curator and team do a great job in the Gardens and are our greatest asset. This year, with the assistance of the A.L.Lane Foundation and Hammonds Paints we were able to provide some support for a study tour of significant gardens in Europe by our Curator. We believe staff development is critical, and should be encouraged for the benefit of the staff, the Gardens and the city.

More than that, we believe that our Gardens are there for all to enjoy.  They are peaceful at times and at others, they are educational, entertaining and just good fun.

Pat Varley


William Guilfoyle, botanist and landscape gardener extraordinaire, died 100 years ago on 25th June 1912.

This may seem an odd way to begin the President’s report on the year 2011/2012.

I can reassure you that I am not going to detail each of the 100 years in between.

What I do want to acknowledge is the wonderful legacy we have today in the Warrnambool Botanic Gardens, the layout of which was designed by Guilfoyle in 1877.

The Friends main purpose is the preservation and promotion of our Guilfoyle Garden.  This is the criteria against which we wish to be judged.

I believe we have had another successful year.

We took part in the National Trust Heritage Festival, presenting 'Tea and Talk in the Gardens'.  This enabled us to display the results of some of the research we had undertaken on water, wells and windmills, which fitted the theme of innovators and inventors.  The forty or more guests, who attended, were fascinated by the original handwritten specifications for well and windmill on display, and by the short talks on inventors, presented by our members.  They were able to view the well which we seek to restore.

Sunday guided walks continued on a regular basis and there were requests from visiting groups, school groups and others for a walk and talk in the Gardens.  In March we issued a special invitation to Council to join us for a tour to reacquaint them with Gardens and to share our many stories.

Information is also available on the website we maintain, www.wbgardens.com.au and recently all our newsletters from 1992 to the present have been loaded onto this site.  Our quarterly newsletter covers a wide range of issues that publicize and promote our heritage garden.

A series of talks, workshops and discussions held in Scoborios Shed on the first Wednesday of each month has been most informative and has provided the opportunity to get to know others who share our interest and passion for gardens.

We value the links we have with like-minded organizations.  The Society for growing Australian Plants, The Warrnambool and District Historical Society, Triton Woodworkers, Rotary and many others have had input to our activities.

More formally Wannon Water worked jointly with us to maintain the water wise garden and TAFE, with its Children’s’ Services courses and Horticultural programs have worked in cooperation with the Gardens to our mutual advantage.

Cooperation can occur on many levels and the most critical is the willing cooperation of members of the committee.  I have been fortunate to work with a great group of people and to have a dedicated and talented secretary in Mandy King.

Last month we remembered past committee members – foundation secretary Isobel Jones and past treasurer Kathy Wicherson and dedicated two trees to their memory.  They made a huge contribution to the Gardens.

We could not function effectively without the cooperation of the great team that work with Curator John Sheely in the Gardens, nor without the support of Warrnambool City Council.  Last year, in addition to Jazz in the Gardens and the Australia Day celebrations, there were more than eighty events in the Gardens.

Despite storm and tempest, traffic and pests, the Gardens are maintained magnificently.

We have achieved many of our goals, but there is still work in progress.

The delay in signage has been frustrating, but we hope it is near resolution.  Otherwise it is still all about water; watering systems, wells and windmills. We look forward to a productive year ahead

Pat Varley


Warrnambool is so fortunate in its heritage The Gardens are one of its treasures. They are recognised as significant at local state and national level and are on the register of the National Trust the National Estate and Victorian Heritage register.

The Friends of Warrnambool Botanic Gardens was established 22 years ago with the aim of preserving and promoting our Guilfoyle designed garden.

Over the years members have shown remarkable loyalty and persistence and some of the original committee have served for the full 22 years. At present we have 158 members and a committee of 12.

The committee meets monthly with an average attendance of ten.

This year for the first time, we have had the luxury of meeting in our own room which we call Scoborio’s shed.  This derelict old sandstone building at the rear of the curators’ cottage was made available to us by WCC.  With the assistance of Warrnambool Central Rotary, the gardens staff and the City Council it has been converted to a meeting room, office and repository for our records and books.   These are currently being recorded and classified by two of our members

Communication with members is maintained through our website www.wbgardens.com.au and our quarterly newsletter. Our last Newsletter (Issue No 59) was posted to all members.  About one third of our members have an email address and have indicated that they do not need a hard copy.  The remaining members will still receive their copy in the post.

The guiding Friends continue to offer free guided walks at 2.30 pm on the second and fourth Sunday of each month and are also available for special events, school groups and organised tours.  This year Laurel Myers worked with our curator to upgrade our guiding notes and welcomed four new enthusiastic guides who have joined us.

Our annual Spring Garden Day in September was well attended and supported by numerous local businesses and the team at the Gardens.

The highlight of the year was the reinstatement of the gun in the Gardens on a new stand constructed by The Triton Woodworkers club with the generous assistance of many local residents and a donation from the Archie and Hilda Graham Foundation.

Access to the Gardens has changed significantly since the closure of Cockman Street two years ago.  Council committed to provide adequate signs as part of the "Black Spot" funding.  The Friends have had discussions with Council regarding the upgrade of signs directing traffic to the Gardens from the major highways.  These should be in place in the near future. Signs at the Gardens are also due for upgrades.

Our 'Lone Pine' of Gallipoli fame is on the register of significant trees.  Its provenance has been well researched.  It was grown by Mrs Gray from a cone brought back by Sgt McDowall.  This year a seedling grown by one of our members, Lou Hollis, was presented to the Lexton Progress Association.  It replaces a victim of the drought, a pine that previously grew in Toll Bar Park Lexton.

So much for our achievements, but we have also planned for the future.

We have an informal meeting on the first Wednesday of each month and are organising a series of talks to engage members in the coming year.

Our major project however is all about water.

The water wise garden, developed in cooperation with Wannon Water, is an introduction to water, plants and soils.  We have visions of extending the garden westward to incorporate the existing well and a replica windmill, to provide an educational display that tells the story of water over the years.  The well exists – fifty feet deep, circular and solid.  We need information about the windmill which pumped water to the lake in the 1880s.  It may have been constructed locally by John Esam.

On reflection, the highlight of the year has been our interaction with the community.

Our links with TAFE, Triton Woodworkers, Rotary, and the Society for growing Australian plants have been rewarding and encouraging.  The enthusiastic cooperation of the team at the Gardens makes us welcome.  The fellowship of the committee and garden lovers in general, is rewarding and I thank them all for their support.  Two 'Friends' I will mention specifically Kathy Wicherson, a long time member and past treasurer, died during the year.  We miss her very much.

The other person is our secretary Mandy King.  Without her skills we would be very limited in our access to information via the net and our links with other Friends Groups in Australia and New Zealand.

Thank you, to all garden lovers and to all who respect our heritage. And very special thanks to our Curator and to our Secretary.

Pat Varley


The past year had seen much accomplished in the Warrnambool Botanic Gardens.  The Friends have continued to work with the capable staff of the Gardens, the Friends have continued to support the curator John Sheely and his team who have worked tirelessly.

With the onset of changing patterns of weather conditions and environment, John and his team have been continually developing the Gardens to adapt to such conditions.  The Friends have seen the Gardens become sustainable to survive and flourish. Weather patterns of drier conditions have dictated different methods used to preserve our gardens.

The Waterwise Garden of which stage one has been completed and stage two is now being developed, is a great example of sustainable management of the gardens.  There have been interpretative signs erected to indicate how a waterwise garden can be sustained.  To be waterwise, one must know 1. Why we use water 2. What is good watering 3. Your soil and plant selection and 4. The importance of mulching. John and his team are continuing to create the waterwise gardens for the sustainability of our magnificent gardens.  If you enter through the front gate and follow the path to your left past the fountain you will see the 'waterwise' garden at the side of the Curator's Cottage.

The Friends have conducted a number of activities throughout the year.

In September the Friends held a successful Annual Spring Garden Day.  People were able to buy plants and receive planting advice while eating a sausage or having a coffee or tea, as well as listening to the vibrant tones of the Warrnambool City Band and the Pipes and Drums, the setting of the rotunda and the sweeping Guilfoyle Gardens provided a wonderful backdrop.  Also don't forget to start potting up plants for this year's Garden day, which can be dropped off at the depot yard any time.  Plants such as herbs proved very popular.  The date this year is Sunday September 19th.

In October, the Friends celebrated the opening of the renovated fernery by the Mayor, Michael Neoh.  The 20th Anniversary of the Friends was also celebrated at the same time.  Thanks to Marie Johnson who added to her compilation of the 'History of the Friends of the Gardens 1989-2009.  Marie gave an eloquent speech outlining the Friends History, Ellen Dwyer responded and Isobel Jones cut the cake so expertly made and iced by Leonie Cumming.

Our curator, John Sheely, has continued to impart his knowledge to us every 1st Wednesday of the month at the Curator's Morning 10.30 - 12pm.  Everyone is welcome in the depot yard and the gardens.

The Friends have continued their mission to be able to use and renovate the Curators, Scoborio's Cottage.  Thanks to Central Warrnambool Rotary most of the work is completed and soon the Friends shall be able to hold our meetings in it.

The Friends enjoyed a 'Growing Friends' day at Marigold Curtis's home where Marigold most generously opened her garden and home to us. The Friends spent the morning digging up various bulbs that found a home in the Gardens.

In March, Ellen Dwyer invited foundation members and the present committee to her home to celebrate the Friends participation in the Gardens, Ellen showed us around her magnificent gardens.

Throughout the year there have been ongoing developments with the cannon.  As the undercarriage was severely deteriorating, after much consultation and advice it was decided to have the carriage ex-rayed.  The barrel was removed by crane onto a new temporary cement structure.  At the moment the Triton Woodworkers are soon to make a new replica carriage.  The Friends thank them for their continued endeavours.  The Cannon has been a source of enjoyment for many generations of Warrnambool's children as part of the Gardens, which it is hoped will be enjoyed by the community for many years.

The Friends have also utilised the expertise of the Warrnambool Woodworkers Group who construct excellent pens which are for sale.

The Friends are a voluntary organisation that has the support of many philanthropic organisations of which we are most grateful.

The Friends need more members so if you know of anyone who could be interested please suggest joining the Friends to them.

Finally, I'd like to thank the various members of the committee who have been invaluable over the past three years.  Our secretary, Mandy King, has been outstanding in her skills with the newsletter, creating magnificent cards of the Gardens, the website and grant applications with Pat.   Thanks also to Pat and the rest of the committee.

The Friends have a number of projects mooted including the researching of the well and a windmill.

I wish Pat well in her endeavours as President.

Thank you.

Anne Lynch


The Friends of the Gardens has continued to support and encourage the future success and development of the Warrnambool Botanic Gardens as an outstanding example of a Guilfoyle garden.

The gardens continue to be used by many members of the community as a focal point for family celebrations and other activities.  The Friends of the Gardens acknowledges the meticulous endeavor from the staff of the Warrnambool Botanic Gardens under the able direction of our curator, John Sheely.  The garden beds have continued to be maintained, changed and upgraded to enhance the facility, thereby encouraging visitors not only from Warrnambool but from far and wide.

The Gardens were the venue for a visit by Heritage Victoria who were most impressed with our Guilfoyle Garden.

The Friends continue to conduct regular Garden Walks on the 2nd and 4th Sundays of the month or by arrangement and we thank our willing volunteers who "weather" all sort of conditions.  I'm sure their efforts are rewarded by the very positive remarks from national and international visitors who partake of these entertaining wanderings.

The Friends acknowledge the enthusiasm from our curator John Sheely and his staff who conduct informative working experiences such as pruning, propagation and planting.  These mornings have been invaluable to also liaise with Ros. Any Friends are most welcome to attend these mornings and enjoy a cup of tea or coffee.

Last year we conducted our annual Spring Garden Day and Plant Stall.  This was most enjoyable and once again you are invited to attend on Sunday 20th September.  Plants such as herbs proved very popular. Jams and chutneys are also in demand so start potting and making jams and preserves now please.

This year the Friends acquired the shed at the back of the curator's cottage.  We have named it Scoborio's Shed after the original curator.  At the moment, with the assistance of the Council, the building is in the process of a complete refit where eventually we hope to keep archives and conduct meetings.

In late October this year we shall hold a double celebration with the official opening of the restored fernery and the Friends of the Gardens 20th anniversary.  The fernery has special significance, as it is only one of three remaining intact examples in botanic gardens. We acknowledge the pioneering work that the original members undertook.

The Friends have continued to raise funds this year and contributed $6000 for the restoration of the fernery.  The Friends have also contributed $2000 for the reprint of the informative and attractive updated brochures.  I must acknowledge the massive amount of "behind the scenes" work done by our secretary, Mandy King, in expanding these brochures.  Mandy has also spent "untold" hours developing a website for the Friends of the Gardens that places the information about the Gardens at the fingertips for everyone.

Unfortunately, our disappointment this year has been the closure of Cockman Street.  We certainly hope that we can continue to work in cooperation to enhance and protect our unique, heritage listed Guilfoyle Garden intact for future generations.

In conclusion, I would like to thank the entire hardworking committee for their invaluable support.  I would also like to thank you our members for your support of our Gardens.  Most importantly I thank all the hardworking staff with whom we are looking forward to continue working for the successful future and enjoyment of our historic heritage listed Guilfoyle Gardens.

Thank you,

Anne Lynch.


Distinguished guests, the Mayor David Atkinson, Guest speaker Donna Ellis, members and guests.

We welcome everyone today to our AGM. I am sorry that I cannot be present.

The Friends has enjoyed a busy and most fulfilling year culminating in receiving a grant to restore the damaged heritage listed fernery from Heritage Victoria.  The grant will be used to fund much needed carpentry and restore the sprinkler system in the fernery.  As most people are aware this fernery is one of only three such ferneries still existing in botanic gardens in Victoria with one at Ripponlea and the other at Bendigo.  Once again we must acknowledge the tireless endeavours of our member Marigold Curtis.  The fernery is most significant as it was first constructed in 1888 with the original plans dated to 1866. It contains rare Otway ferns sourced locally.

The Friends continue to work with and acknowledge the accomplishments of our curator, John Sheely and his staff.  John has initiated educative working bees with the members on a monthly basis.  All members are encouraged to attend these occasions of which there are reminders in the quarterly bulletins posted or emailed to all members.

The gardens have continued to be a focus for many groups and activities throughout the past year.  Many people enjoyed the Australia Day festivities and also Jazz in the gardens for the annual Wunta carnival.

The friends also continue to offer informative guided walks of the gardens on a fortnightly occurrence.  Over the past year the Growing Friends have also lovingly provided time and expertise by propagating and promoting plant life.  We are reminded that there will be a plant sale on 21st September from 11am to 2pm with a bbq lunch and coffee and tea near the rotunda. Friends are encouraged to pot up special plants beforehand.

The gardens continued to provide the staff and friends the opportunity to liaise with staff from Geelong and Southern Grampians.  In addition to Friends hosted groups from the early child care facility at Southwest Tafe.  Another highlight of the year was the hosting of the Casterton and Geelong Garden Clubs.

The Gardens has also seen the installation of two picnic tables and seats.  These were a gift from Isobel and David Jones on behalf of the F.J Foundation, for which we are most grateful.  Their installation has been managed by the Gardens Staff and they provide a great addition to the Gardens.

Another highlight of the Friends' year was the presentation of important historical films at the Warrnambool Art Gallery.  The films were initiated by John Wilkins, a former visual arts lecturer at Deakin University.  The films have been edited on to a dvd format featuring new and old interpretations of post and past Second World War events.  The original films were photographed by the late Alex Wilkins who was a successful professional photographer in Warrnambool. There was a good attendance followed by supper.

Thank you for your attendance and I'm sure you will enjoy out guest speaker Donna Ellis.

Anne Lynch



It is now 18 years since the Friends of Warrnambool Botanic Gardens formed as an initiative of the Premier Town Promotion Board. Some of those original supporters are here today.

In presenting the third and final report on my term as President I want to acknowledge all the greatwork done by the Friends over those 18 years.

Marie Johnstone, our historian, has recorded the history of the Friends.  This year she has updatedthe booklet, which we now have as a valuable record of our group.

In reflecting on the past year I want to focus on three themes; - Heritage,

Preservation &/or Restoration and Development.


It is just over a year ago (April 2006) that Warrnambool Botanic Gardens was added to the Victorian Heritage Register. This, in addition to registration with the National Trust (1990) and the National Estate (1992), provides protection for our Guilfoyle designed garden.

Last year (2006) marked the 140th anniversary of the gardens on their present location. It was an achievement worth celebrating.

In October The Warrnambool Art Gallery together with the Friends presented an exhibition of our history entitled; ‘Our Gardens 140 Years’. The opening was attended by more than 100 guests.

In November we held a Garden Party in celebration of our history, and recognising the contribution of Charles Scoborio, who retired a century previously at the age of 79 having served as curator for 34 years. The Friends arranged a memorial for his grave in the Warrnambool cemetery.

The information gathered to support these events was collated and produced as an interactive CD by Erene Maroniti, a media student at SWTAFE.

Preservation and Restoration

The Friends identified the need for a Curator as their first priority and for many years worked towards that goal. They were supported by a grant from the Gwen and Edna Jones Foundation and South West Institute of TAFE. The Warrnambool Botanic Gardens Management Plan (2004) also recommended such an appointment and WCC endorsed their recommendation

With the appointment of John Sheely in January 2007 we have our Curator.

We are most grateful to all concerned.

In the short time he has been in Warrnambool, John has worked with staff to preserve our iconic trees, propagate significant plants and commence restoration of the overgrown garden beds.

Information and education are important aspects of preservation.  The Guiding Friends have continued to take groups, both large and small, young and old, through the Gardens.  Due to the work of Mandy King we have revised and reprinted our brochure, while Kevin Sparrow from the Society for Growing Australian Plants has produced a leaflet identifying plants in our native bed.  Horticulture Students from TAFE have assisted with labelling of trees and with other tasks.  Diploma of Child Care students from TAFE have introduced pre schoolers to the delights of leaves, flowers, plants, trees and ducks! Schools make good use of the Gardens.  Walks and Talks at our 140th Garden Party covered topics such as Ferdinand von Mueller and Scoborio.  Our quarterly newsletter aims to communicate with and inform our members.

There has been some vandalism, just as there was 100years ago in the days of Scoborio.  We will concentrate on the pleasure the majority of our citizens get from the gardens and believe that in the education of the young, lies their best protection.


The Friends have for some time noted the need for a picnic shelter and picnic tables in the gardens.  The Conservation Plan recommended that an area north west of the lake be developed to provide wheelchair access from Botanic Road.  We hope that by next year we will be able to report the installation of suitable picnic facilities.

A longer term goal is the incorporation of the Curators Cottage and surrounds into the public area.  This could provide an office for the Curator, storage facilities for books and records, a meeting room and eventually tearooms.  The well offers the opportunity to explain water resources past and present with even the possibility of restoring the windmill.

The WBG have given me a great deal of pleasure and satisfaction.

I thank the Committee, the Garden Staff, the Friends of the Gardens and all those citizens of Warrnambool who value and defend our Heritage. Thank you.

Pat Varley


Who we are and where do we fit?

The ‘Friends’ were formed in 1989 and so this is our 17th annual general meeting.  Over that time our primary purpose has been; to maintain and develop Warrnambool Botanic Gardens as an outstanding Guilfoyle garden.

To this end we work closely with Warrnambool City Council.  Although we have a local focus, we maintain a wider interest through membership of the Association of Friends of Botanic Gardens Inc.  This association has representatives of thirty eight gardens.  They are spread geographically, from Darwin to Hobart, and range in size from Port Fairy to the Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne. They publish a newsletter "Campsis", for which Marigold Curtis is Warrnambool’s correspondent and our secretary Mandy King, the compiler.  This year’s AFBG conference will be held in Cranbourne in September.

The AFBG is in turn an Associate Member of Botanic Gardens of Australia and New Zealand (BGANZ), which makes us part of a very comprehensive network.

The year just gone.

It has been a good year. Several projects that we have worked long and hard at have been successful.

The "Warrnambool Botanic Gardens Management Plan (2004)" was endorsed by the Warrnambool City Council on 12th December 2005, bringing to fruition a process that began with the establishment of a reference group in June 2003.  In endorsing the Plan, Council also adopted a recommendation that within the budget process provision be made for "not less than 50% of a new full-time staff position to be dedicated to curatorial duties and functions associated with the Warrnambool Botanic gardens".

Such provision was made when Council adopted the budget late in June.

This together with the generosity of the Gwen and Edna Jones Foundation who have offered financial assistance of $8,000 p.a. for three years, and Southwest TAFE’s provision to employ a suitable person for one day a week is terrific.  It highlights community pride and community service.

It is now official.  Warrnambool Botanic Gardens was added to the Victorian Heritage Register in April 2006.  This provides further protection for our Guilfoyle designed garden, which was registered by the National Trust in 1990 and added to the Register of the National Estate in 1992.

The gardens were recognised as of "historical, scientific, aesthetic and social significance to the State of Victoria" and "one of the earliest provincial botanic gardens; commencing in1858 and in its current location since 1866."

This year marks the 140th anniversary of the gardens at the present location.

We have made good progress in establishing two areas that display the beauty of our local indigenous plants.  The Society for Growing Australian Plants has planted up a new bed under the old Manna Gum east of the lake.  These plants are all native to the Warrnambool region.  They are doing well.  The fernery is in the process of renewal and will display ferns of the Otway Ranges.  Another native, the Wollemai Pine, so new and yet so old, has been planted in the Pinetum.

The Gardens again hosted significant celebrations including Australia Day and the National Conference of Legacy.  Wunta’s Jazz in the Gardens was relocated this year as a split in the old elm made the usual space unsafe.  Fortunately rapid response by Terry O’Sullivan and garden staff saw the tree braced and secured, while the new location south of the lake provided a great venue for the hundreds of folk who enjoyed a great day of jazz in the Gardens.

We have a new Brochure, designed and compiled by Mandy King.  This has been widely distributed and showcases our Garden.

Thankyou Mandy, and thankyou to all the Committee, for your enthusiasm and hard work throughout the year.

The small, sometimes irrelevant stories, that make life exciting.

Last year we told of the trail of the lonesome pine.  The Lone Pine is one of only two trees in our Gardens that are on the register of significant trees. The other is the Soledad pine.

The Lone Pine we believed was one of four grown by Mrs Emma Gray of Grasmere, from seed in a cone brought back from Lone Pine at Gallipoli, by her nephew Sgt Keith McDowell of the 24th battalion . But there was no Keith McDowell in the 24th battalion.  Eventually with the help of the Family History Group we established that Thomas Keith McDowell of the 23rd battalion fought at Lone Pine and on return to Australia married the niece of Emma Gray.

The trees she grew were planted at Wattle Park, The Shrine of Remembrance, The Sisters and ours in Warrnambool.

This year our historian Marie Johnson has been researching the ancestry of Charles Scoborio curator on the present site from 1872-1906.

While we were aware of his Cornish origins it is only lately that we learned that he grew up at Heligan Mill where his father and grandfather had worked in the gardens now famous as the Lost Gardens of Heligan. This year marks the centenary of his retirement.

There is a well at the rear of the Curator’s Cottage. It was sunk in the 1870’s or 80’s.

It is 20.55 metres deep (70ft), circular and intimidating. The first two or three courses of worked sandstone blocks lead down to a perfectly round shaft through the local stone to the aquifer beneath. It is a tribute to the skill of the workmen who sank it and a monument of our early water supplies. We would truly love to restore it for public viewing.

The year to come

We look forward to the appointment of a curator and continuing our program of providing informative signage.  For this year, the 140th anniversary of the Gardens, we plan a garden party on Sunday 12th November in which we hope many local groups will join us.  At that event we will celebrate our listing on the Victorian Heritage Register, the Gardens 140 years and the centenary of Scoborio’s retirement.

Pat Varley


The 'Friends’ were formed in 1989 and since then have worked to enhance the Gardens. In presenting my first Annual Report I am acutely aware of the vision dedication and hard work of all the members over those years.

Last August the Committee reaffirmed its main purpose; to maintain and develop Warrnambool Botanic Gardens as an outstanding Guilfoyle garden. These Gardens, now registered by the National Trust, were established in 1869.  They were developed to a plan designed by William Guilfoyle and for 136 years the Council and citizens of Warrnambool have retained and maintained them.  They are described on the Australian Heritage Data Base as having;

high integrity being one of the few untouched examples of a Guilfoyle garden,

second only to the Royal Melbourne Botanic Gardens.

We identified five main ways to achieve our purpose.

Further develop links with other gardening groups

In conjunction with the Society for Growing Australian Plants we are establishing a native garden which will showcase flora of South Western Victoria.  This joint venture is well under way and planting will begin very soon.  We also acknowledge generous donations of special plants from other gardens and individuals.  We maintain links with State and National bodies and have initiated a garden group on the net. botanic-gardens@yahoogroups.com

The Wood turners have been able to preserve some of our ancient and historic timber as bowls, pens and special souvenirs.

Facilitate greater use of the Gardens by the Community

The Teddy Bears’ and Fairies’ Picnic sponsored by the Friends and 3YB attracted a big crowd as did community events such as the Wunta Festival, and the Australia Day celebrations.  Other activities catered for both ends of the spectrum when TAFE Diploma students presented activities for the aged and disabled and on other occasions for tiny tots and preschool children.

Disseminate information about the Gardens and its collection.

We have continued our Quarterly Newsletter, occasional articles in the Standard and fortnightly guided walks.  Rob Wallis, one of our members gave a fascinating talk on Ferdinand von Mueller.  We have just compiled a new brochure for distribution, while the labelling of plants has progressed steadily.  An enormous amount of unseen work in maintaining a database has been undertaken by our Secretary.

Consolidate and strengthen Membership.

We would like to do better.  Our membership fluctuates, but averages around one hundred and twenty.  This year a well attended film night in cooperation with Warrnambool Rotary, and our Christmas function in the Rotunda, were the main social events.  Several other events were cancelled when numbers were too low.  A conservative estimate of the volunteer contribution from ‘The Friends’ to the Gardens would be between 1000 and 1500 hours each year.  Like all voluntary organizations we have the challenge to renew, to revitalise and to survive.

Maintain strong links with Warrnambool City Council

In the course of the year a new Council was elected, a new committee structure was created, Director of Physical Services Peter Reeve left to take up a position in Geelong and Stan Crow, our long serving Head Gardener retired.  We thank Peter and Stan for their work over many years.

Terry O’Sullivan, whose responsibilities include parks and Gardens and the Aerodrome reports to our monthly meetings and members of the Committee appreciate the time he takes to periodically walk around the Gardens with them.  The staff work hard, but there is no dedicated curator to assist or direct them and this is a serious impediment to garden development.

Neil Allen as Director of Physical Services has supported a good working relationship with the Friends and we are grateful for his support. But we still need a curator.

It is disappointing that the Conservation and Management plan for the Gardens (which recommends the appointment of a curator) has taken so long to be accepted.

Initially tendered in September 2003 and scheduled for submission to Council late in 2003 it is in danger of becoming irrelevant.

The Friends have identified their first priority.  It is the appointment of an appropriate person to manage our very valuable asset, our trees and our heritage.

Lets finish with the good news. - Preserving our Heritage

The urns. These are now being stabilised with the aid of a grant from Heritage Victoria and much research by Marie Johnson.

The Fernery. The new doors have been designed, commissioned and purchased by the Friends.

The old Stump. Relic of the original plantings attributable to Mueller.

The Lone Pine. A seed from ”our tree” germinated and matured at Ballengeich.

It has been a pleasure to work with such a dedicated and enthusiastic committee.

Thank you all.

Pat Varley


It is my pleasant duty to present the activities report for the Friends of the Gardens for the year 2003/4 Firstly I would like to thank the very hard working members of the committee for their assistance and continued support and welcome Anne Lynch to the committee.

We have had a very busy and successful year.  The Growing Friends continue to propagate plants and work in the Gardens.

The Guiding Friends are active and conduct regular escorted walks.  Several large groups were escorted through the Gardens which is excellent, as it demonstrates the interest in the Gardens by the community.  The Gas Light has finally been installed and is alight.

The restoration of the urns continues to be researched in conjunction with the Heritage Advisor.

The Master Plan has been presented by the Consultants, Australian Landscape Design, in draft form, but requires further amendments before it can be presented to the Members and the Community for final comment.  Unfortunately the process has been very slow due to problems within the Consultant organisation.


As usual our Events Coordinator, Anne Kelly, has been very busy.

Our first activity was a morning coffee screening of the amusing and entertaining film Green Fingers.  The attendance numbers were very good and it was considered that morning films may be more successful than theatre luncheons.

In November Marie Johnstone organised the planting of a memorial tree to commemorate the early Curators, Charles Scoborio and William Donald.  The tree which is an Araucaria Cunninghamii (Hoop Pine) was donated by the Royal Botanic Gardens and was planted by the Scoborio and Donald grandchildren.  Afternoon tea was served on the lawns beside the Rotunda and the scones and cakes used, were made from old recipes, which had originally belonged to Mrs Donald.  The day was most successful with a very good attendance. Our thanks to Marie and her helpers.

A car trip to Glenormiston College House and Gardens and Gnotuk House was thoroughly enjoyed by those who participated.

The Christmas Party was held in the Rotunda.  Despite an extremely wet evening it was very well supported by the members and well organised by Anne.

We again participated in Wunta, Jazz in the Gardens.  Unfortunately the day was very hot and Devonshire Teas were not generally appealing.

In conjunction with 3YB and Golly Gosh our third Teddy Bears’ Picnic was held in March.  We were fortunate in obtaining a $3000 Grant from the Warrnambool City Council’s Community Grant’s Program and with the sponsorships and voluntary assistance from entertainers and business firms, we were able to achieve our objective, of providing a cost free day for families.  Humphrey Bear was the guest star and thoroughly delighted the children.  Approximately 3000 people attended and it was a very happy and successful day.

Our next event was a play morning for Pre School children which was organised through T.A.F.E. using students to provide and supervise the games.  It was wonderful to watch the innovative games and the enjoyment of the children.  Our thanks to Pat Varley for arranging the morning.

The final activity for the year was providing a guided walk and morning tea for 60 Melbourne Rotarians, who were on a caravan holiday as a group.  The feedback from the morning was very positive, which is encouraging as they may mention the Gardens to other Melbourne people.

I would like to thank Anne for her hard work and stress how much we appreciate the time and effort required in organising Catering and Events.

As I have completed my three year term as President, I would like to thank everyone who has supported me so well, particularly Mandy King as Secretary and the Committee.

Without Council support the Friends would lose effectiveness.  I would like to thank particularly Peter Reeve and Terry O’Sullivan and the Council staff for their continued support and assistance.  I have thoroughly enjoyed my term as president and it is with much pleasure that I wish my successor a happy, satisfying and productive term in office.

Again my thanks to the Committee for their support and hard work and the members for their continued assistance.

Billie Rowley


It is my pleasant duty to present the activities report for the Friends of the Gardens for the year 2002/3. Firstly I would like to thank the very hard working committee for their assistance and continued support and welcome Pat Varley to the committee.  It is with regret that we farewelled Marie Ziebell who has moved to Geelong.

We have had a very busy and successful year. We obtained a Parks Victoria Grant for $3560 in 2002. This enabled us to formulate a database of all significant trees and plants.  This important project was carried out very efficiently by Mandy King.  Fortunately we had sufficient funding, on completion of the database, to enable a further 50 trees to be labelled.  We are now seeking further funding to continue with the project.

It was noted that the master plan had not been reviewed since 1995 and has become dated in certain areas.  We also wish to include a Childrens’ Garden in our plans.  A very successful meeting was held with the Council representatives, members of the Gardens staff and the Friends, to discuss plans for the review.  Peter Reeve has included this project in the 2003/4 budget. We greatly appreciate the support we receive from the Council.

Marie Johnstone has completed the history of the Friends and this was launched by the Mayor Cr Jamie Nichol at our Christmas party.  We congratulate Marie on this interesting and important history.

The Growing Friends continue to propagate plants and work in the Gardens.

The Guiding Friends are active and conduct regular escorted walks.

The restoration of the urns and the Gardens history continue to be researched.


Our events organiser Anne Kelly has had a very busy and productive year, starting with a luncheon with Michael McCoy as the guest speaker. This was most successful and well attended. The growing Friends held a succulents stall which was well supported.  We then had a very pleasant outing to Lyn Strachan’s garden and gallery at Yambuk in November.

Our Christmas party was held in the rotunda and enjoyed by everyone.

The next event was Wunta Jazz in the Gardens which was most successful.

A second Teddy Bears’ picnic held in conjunction with 3YB and McDonalds with Ronald McDonald as the guest star was held in March and again was most successful.

As the Federation Fair was an outstanding success it was decided to hold a repeat fair using the same format. This was done in conjunction with the City Council. We obtained sponsorship and Grants from Midfield Meats, The Community Grants Program, The Rural Events Grants Program, 3YB, Bakers Delight and the Warrnambool Standard. The Fair took the form of an expo with 72 organisations participating. We used all local artists and obtained very positive feedback. The Fair was attended by approximately 8000 people. The Friends held a produce stall, a plant stall and served sandwiches and devonshire teas.

Event such as this demonstrate the beauty of the Gardens to the community and engender greater use.

Our organiser, Anne, is to be congratulated on a very successful year.

We have drawn up a calendar of events for 2003/4, which was published, in our last newsletter.

I would like to thank the Council particularly Peter Reeve, Terry O’Sullivan and Craig Hartwich for their continued support and assistance. I feel the Friends have had a productive year and look forward to another equally successful year

Again my thanks to the committee, for their support and hard work.

Billie Rowley


It is my pleasant duty to present the activities report for the Friends of the Gardens for the year 2001/02.

It has been a very busy and successful year.  We were most fortunate in obtaining two Grants, the first from Federation Victoria for $14,000 and the second from Parks Victoria for $3,500.

The Council using the Grant for $50,000 obtained from The Department for State and Regional Development completed the fence facing Queen's Street, partial restoration of the Rotunda including the kitchen area, excellent interpretative signage, some Garden restoration and the continuing removal and replanting of trees.  The completed fence has led to a reduction in the incidence of vandalism.  The Rotunda improvements are greatly appreciated, especially in regard to safe usage and improved catering facilities.

The Growing Friends have continued to propagate and pot plants. Plant sales during the year have been most successful. The continuing dedicated work of this group is very much appreciated.

The Guiding Friends have continued escorted walks. Youth Groups from the Y.M.C.A. have participated.  Again we thank the Friends for their continued assistance.

Marie Johnston is writing a history of the Friends. This will ensure that a complete record is available.  Jean Fitzpatrick ably manages our publicity and Marie Ziebell is organising the Archives. Our grateful thanks to these people for their help.

Due to vandalism and theft the Fernery has required extensive replanting.  This has been very successfully carried out with the assistance of Marigold Curtis.  The Fernery is now flourishing.

The formulation of a Data Base for the Trees and significant Plants has commenced. When completed labels will be applied as required to trees and plants. This important initiative has been funded by the Parks Victoria Grant and will be completed by November.


Federation Fair

Using the Federation Grant combined with monetary support from the Council and the Friends and an enormous amount of assistance, we organised a Fair in the Gardens, which was held on November 18 2001.

The main aim was to involve diverse community groups in the celebration of Federation, by participating and show casing their various activities. It was a non-profit making venture. 70 groups participated and approximately 6000 people attended. The community support was outstanding.

I would particularly like to thank Allan Murnane and his wonderful staff for their advice and assistance which was invaluable, as well as Mandy King, Ann Kelly and the Friends and all the organisations and people whom so kindly supported the Fair.

The Gardens proved to be a perfect venue and despite very unkind weather, the day was an outstanding success.  Our special thanks to Ann Kelly and members for organising and running the Devonshire Tea, to Isabel Jones and Marie Johnston for the Produce Stall and Lorraine Richardson and the Growing Friends for the Plant Stall and to all the Committee and Members for their support.

Plant Sales

The Growing Friends organised potting days and 3 very successful plant sales.  The sales were very well patronised so it is apparent that people appreciate the special plants that can be purchased from the Gardens and also the information available from the very knowledgeable Growing Friends.

Film Luncheons

Two very successful film luncheons were organised by Ann Kelly and Lorraine Richardson and catered by the Friends.

Wunta Music in the Gardens

For the second year we were asked to provide Devonshire Tea and Drinks for Wunta.  The afternoon was very well patronised and Devonshire Tea again proved popular.

Teddy Bears' Picnic

In conjunction with 3YB a Teddy Bears' Picnic was held on the 28th April. Mark Watson and 3YB management undertook most of the organisation and arranges sponsorships.  The day was an outstanding success and surpassed our most optimistic forecasts.  Approximately 3,000 people attended which strained all our resources beyond the limits. Humphrey B. Bear was the guest of honour to the delight of all the children.  A further Teddy Bears' Picnic is scheduled for April 6 2003.

Review of Master Plan and Children's Garden

As we believe that the historical significance of the Gardens must be maintained, we also believe that improvements must be considered.  To add an extra dimension to the Gardens we would like to introduce a Children's garden possibly following the Snugglepot and Cuddlepie theme.   Prior to formulating plans for the Children's Garden it is necessary to review the Master Plan. This review has commenced in conjunction with John Hawker who is most enthusiastic about the concept.


On behalf of the committee and myself I would particularly like to thank the Members for their continuing support, The Warrnambool City Council, Mr Merritt, Peter Reeve and Terry O'Sullivan for their assistance and understanding and the Gardens' Staff for the care and upkeep of the Gardens.

Thanks to Committee Members

A very sincere thanks to all the members of the committee, especially to Mandy our most efficient secretary whose enthusiasm, support and friendship has been outstanding. I would also like to thank Ann who as Vice-President has been most supportive and Judi as Treasurer who has managed our finances so well. I look forward to another happy and productive year.

Thanks Marie Ziebell

It is with much regret that we accept Marie's resignation from the committee. We have very much appreciated her leadership as President, her enthusiasm, very real love of the Gardens, and her interest and wide Botanical knowledge. Marie's marvellous attention to detail will be greatly missed. We all wish her every success and much happiness in her mo