"Botanic Gardens" Reserve

The town plan of 1863, resulting from Assistant Surveyor Hugh Fraser's survey of the town, shows a 30 acre site for a botanic garden on the southern outskirts of the town, along MacDonald St. It had been "temporarily reserved" (Rs 9945) as a site for public gardens and formally gazetted by the State Government on 20 January 1863. It is unclear who made the decision to reserve the block for this purpose. It is also difficult to understand how anyone could have pictured this infertile, windswept block as being transformed into a botanical oasis. There was never any attempt to develop the block as a garden. From at least 1876 it was used as a public pound. In 1883 the council gave permission to the Bute & Downes company to mine the site, but this would appear not to have happened. In 1899 the local MP, A. J. Peacock, advised council that they should not quarry stone from the site, since that would contravene the terms of the reservation. Council thus decided to apply to have the reservation changed to a quarry, but again this did not occur.

In 1920 the council turned down a request from a returned soldier to purchase the land. In 1933 the block was fenced in half, with the pound-keeper paying £10 per year to graze his own animals, with the other half continuing to be used as a pound. A nominal rent appears to have been paid by the Borough of Clunes for "permissive occupancy" of the land "for pound purposes". In 1991, the State Government reviewed the status of the block and in 1994 the temporary reservation as a public garden was formally revoked (Government Gazette 15 December 1994). Although at the present time there is a small clump of pines on the northern boundary, there is no evidence that the block was ever developed as a botanic garden or any sort of park.


town plan 1863
Town plan of 1863