FLASHBACK: Early lake edge tree planting at Tondoon Botanic Gardens.
FLASHBACK: Early lake edge tree planting at Tondoon Botanic Gardens. Contributed/GRAGM

Gladstone landmark celebrates important milestone

IT'S one of Gladstone's most recognisable landmarks and this week it's celebrating a grand milestone.

The Tondoon Botanic Gardens is turning 30 with week-long celebrations planned for the natural space from today through to next Saturday.

Officially opened on October 23, 1988, the gardens have a rich history as one of Gladstone's most popular natural facilities.

The gardens are centred around Tondoon Dam, now referred to as Tondoon Lake, which served as Gladstone's water supply between 1916-1945.

Since its official opening, the gardens have continued to grow and now exist as a popular tourist and recreational destination, as well as a spectacular venue for weddings and events.

Featuring a cafe, visitor centre, art gallery and picnic and barbecue areas, the gardens are an important green space for everyone to enjoy.

 

Observation tower behind the visitor's centre at Tondoon Botanic Gardens.
Observation tower behind the visitor's centre at Tondoon Botanic Gardens. Contributed/GRAGM

Councillor Rick Hansen said the gardens were a place for people of all ages.

"The botanic gardens are one of Gladstone's real treasures," he said.

"Residents and visitors have an opportunity firstly to view and experience many species of native plants via the free tours that the garden's volunteer ambassadors give.

"There's amazing recreational spaces, walking trails, space for children and families to relax and much more.

 

INTERNATIONAL APPEAL: The Japanese gardens are a big drawcard for  locals and visitors to the region.
INTERNATIONAL APPEAL: The Japanese gardens are a big drawcard for locals and visitors to the region. Mike Richards

"The botanic gardens have been a significant part of Gladstone's history over the past 30 years."

A number of events are held at the site, which plays host to annual favourite Ecofest, as well as events such as community markets, movie nights and school holiday programs.

While the gardens are iconic to many Gladstone residents, they gained national notoriety earlier this year after being chosen by Australian Geographic Magazine as being in the top 10 regional Botanic Gardens around Australia.

Mayor Matt Burnett said visitor numbers at the gardens had been growing steadily.

"The gardens received almost 300,000 visitors last year," he said.

"The features including the Japanese tea house, Lake Tondoon, Savour the Flavour Cafe, picnic and barbecue areas and the abundant flora and fauna have made the gardens an ideal family recreational area.

"The gardens have grown significantly over the last three years, having gone from 154,000 visitors in 2015 to 292,000 in 2017."

Today, the gardens feature more than 1500 native plant species from the Port Curtis and Far North Queensland regions across 21 cultivated hectares.

 

Tondoon Botanic Gardens visitor's centre and art gallery plus gardens cafe under construction.
Tondoon Botanic Gardens visitor's centre and art gallery plus gardens cafe under construction. Contributed/GRAGM

Timeline of events:

1960s-70s: Community groups and individuals lobby Gladstone City Council and Qld State Government to have a botanic Garden established in Gladstone

Late 1970s: Jo Bjelke-Petersen changes tenure of site from Water Reserve to Environmental Park

1980: Gardens designed by landscape architectural consultants Landplan Studio

1983: Initial works commence including dredging and restoration of Tondoon Dam, and other earthworks

1984: First major plantings are carried out

1988: Gardens officially open on October 23

1994: Cafe, information centre and administration centre added

2010: Japanese Tea House is constructed using traditional building methods and recycled timber

2015: Master plan developed for demonstration gardens on southern bank of Lake Tondoon



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