26 May 2023

Bloomin' great idea to spend Sunday discovering Wollongong Botanic Garden

| Jen White
Start the conversation
Autumnal tones in Wollongong Botanic Garden

Residents are encouraged to put on their walking shoes on Sunday and visit the beautiful Wollongong Botanic Garden. Photos: Jen White.

A seed of an idea planted in Wollongong almost a decade ago has blossomed and grown into more than 100 branches across Australia and New Zealand.

Botanic Gardens Day, which will be celebrated on Sunday (28 May), was a concept event designed to celebrate the power of plants and highlight the role of Wollongong Botanic Garden in the community.

Residents are invited to visit the botanic garden to take free tours, listen to talks, buy a plant or two at the native plant sale and visit the botanic art and photography exhibition at the Towri Centre.

Each year about 500,000 people visit the sprawling gardens set over 27 hectares, including the historic Gleniffer Brae which sits above the garden and looks over the city and out to the sea.

READ ALSO Shell Cove Community Garden is providing more than just veggies for residents

The gardens are entwined with the Illawarra’s history, ironically due in no small part to the foresight of industrial magnate, Arthur Sidney Hoskins, a founder of the Australian Iron and Steelworks at Port Kembla.

The Hoskins family bought 75 acres (30ha) of land in 1928 and built their home, Gleniffer Brae, on the site in the late 1930s.

In the 1950s, the Hoskins dedicated a large part of their land to Wollongong City Council to create a botanic garden.

It was almost 1960 when Robert Henry, the chief botanist and director of Sydney’s Royal Botanic Garden, visited the Keiraville site and gave his blessing to the establishment of a Wollongong botanic garden. It opened to the public on 2 January 1971 and had 6000 visitors that year.

Since then, the botanic garden has met the aims of its designer, University of NSW Professor Peter Spooner who said at the time: “The garden should be educational, recreational, scientific as well as aesthetic”.

READ ALSO Nine things to do in the Illawarra this week (26 May – 1 June)

Visitors can stroll or picnic among an extensive array of plant specimens, from both tropical and temperate regions, and follow paths which meander through the garden.

Today the garden’s extensive collection includes Australian forest and grassland, flowering trees and shrubs, palms, the rose garden, rainforest, succulents, a bush tucker garden, and the latest collection unveiled this week of prehistoric cycads.

Council is currently developing a master plan for the garden, incorporating previous community input and the existing ‘Plan of Management’. It will guide the development of the living collections, key assets and services and is expected to be released later this year.

For a list of free Botanic Gardens Day activities on Sunday between 10 am and 2 pm, visit Wollongong Botanic Garden.

Start the conversation

Daily Digest

Want the best Illawarra news delivered daily? Every day we package the most popular Illawarra stories and send them straight to your inbox. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.