Welcome to the Australian Inland Botanic Gardens
Wander along the Nature Trail, then pause a while on a donated seat in the shade of five hundred year old mallee trees. The work of volunteers can be appreciated as you admire the native ground covers, shrubs and bushes planted in this section of the Botanic Gardens. While blue wrens flash between the trees and birdsong is all you hear, you should continue on to the newer sections where eremophilas have their own special corner donated again by a Gardens supporter.
In fact everywhere you go in the Inland Botanic Gardens you are confronted by work done by volunteers over the last twenty-two years. Depending on the day, you may also meet the volunteers themselves.
During the week you might see Primary and Secondary students planting, weeding, repairing and building, as well as learning about nature and sustainability. Schools from all over Sunraysia visit the Gardens to learn and work. The Children’s Garden is under construction and you might see students painting posts, building play areas and turning donated wood, construction materials and equipment into exciting areas for children to explore.
Another group of volunteers, the Z-Team, are a men’s shed without a roof. They build, repair and create facilities all over the Gardens.
One of the first areas developed was the rose garden. It is still a popular spot for locals and visitors, not to mention the countless weddings and ceremonies held on site. Visit on a Wednesday and you are sure to see pruning, dead-heading and weeding being done again by volunteers. The work never stops and this Spring new beds will replace those where the plants have not recovered from the drought.
Visitors and scholars from overseas have thrilled at what has been achieved in just two decades. University students from Michigan recently explored the sustainable watering system. Tourists on train tours driven by volunteers have marvelled at the scale of the site and the variety of plants.
On weekends you may enjoy afternoon tea and a monthly breakfast served by volunteers. You might see artists painting in the restored Magenta homestead or a cooking demonstration taking place in the Peaka kitchen. A wedding may be taking place in the bush chapel.
The Garnpang homestead, rebuilt by volunteers, is worth a close look. Its unique construction, its old-world style is rare these days and will give you an appreciation of past lives.
When you visit the Inland Botanic Gardens the volunteer hours of work are visible everywhere. These people though are not just volunteers. They are enthusiasts. They understand that a Botanic Garden is a living, developing, expanding, sustainable environment. It educates, informs, relaxes, surprises and entertains all who visit. It exists for the future. Volunteers are precious!