Welcome to the Botanic Gardens

The idea for the Gardens came from Mrs Pat Speirs in 1985 after she saw most vegetation being removed by developers in a new residential subdivision on the forested slopes near her house.

The Coastwatchers organisation accepted her motion that a Flora Reserve be established and maintained. The most suitable available site was found on land at Deep Creek owned by State Forests of NSW. Community support was gained and in September 1986 the ‘Friends of the Eurobodalla Native Botanic Gardens’ (the Friends) was formed. The driving force behind the establishment of the Gardens came from Pat Speirs, Helen and David Rees, and Dr Murray Wallace and June Wallace. Following representations by the Friends in September 1986 the Eurobodalla Shire Council supported the project and established a Management Committee to oversee the development and management of the Gardens. An Occupation Permit under the State Forestry Act was issued to the Eurobodalla Shire Council in May 1987.

Dogs and Bikes

The only dogs permitted in the gardens are those registered and trained by an accredited organisation such as The Guide Dogs or Assistance Dogs Australia. We want all of our visitors and wildlife to stay safe and we also don’t want your dog to be put at risk of tick or snake bite. So if you are visiting the area with your dog and you want to visit the Gardens please arrange for your dog to be somewhere else. Why not try contacting a local kennel about short stays?

Bikes are not permitted to be ridden in the Gardens. We want to keep all of our visitors and wildlife safe and our paths are not designed for bikes.

Development Plan

During 1987 and 1988 the ‘Friends’, assisted by the School of Environmental Design at the Canberra College of Advanced Education, prepared a Development Plan.

The first Development Plan for the Gardens was approved in 1988 by the Eurobodalla Shire Council. This plan established the concept of the Gardens. It proposed a development schedule for the following five year period, although it was clear because of financial constraints the Gardens would take much longer than this period to develop. With the support of the Council limited work began in 1989-90. The building of the Gardens Supervisor’s home in 1991-92 and the subsequent appointment of the Gardens Supervisor, was the turning point in accelerating the development of the Gardens.

A bushfire on 6 January 1994, caused massive dislocation to the Gardens’ development and because of the need for a more comprehensive fire risk management strategy it became necessary to make a series of modifications to the Development Plan.

Management Plans

In November 1995, the Management Committee prepared a second Management Plan for the Gardens to cover the five year period from 1995-96 to 1999-2000. However, following consideration by the Eurobodalla Shire Council (ESC) of the November 1996 report entitled Native Botanic Gardens Management Review – 1996 by Deverson et al (Review Report), the ESC requested that a third Management Plan be prepared taking into account the findings of the Review Report and the directions proposed by the ESC at its meeting in April 1997. The review’s recommended change of name to Eurobodalla Regional Botanic Gardens was adopted.

This 1997 Management Plan covered the five year period 1997-98 to 2001-02. It incorporated the essential features of the previous two plans together with allowance for changes that had occurred, especially receipt of the Review Report and the ESC’s directions.

A Council review followed the bushfire. The decision was that the Gardens would be rebuilt on the same site. A recommendation accepted from the review process was that its name would be changed to Eurobodalla Regional Botanic Gardens in line with the policy of collecting and displaying the flora of the region.

A concept plan for the Display Gardens including the Herbarium and Visitors Centre site was prepared by the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology in 1996, and further developed using Kiah Environmental Consultants from Canberra, whose report and plan was adopted by Eurobodalla Shire Council in 1999. This plan is the basis of all new display garden beds and other developments in the Gardens.

Development has proceeded as funds and labour have been available.

The 1997 Management Plan was in operation until the Management Plan 2006-10 was adopted by the ESC in February 2006.

In 2013 Eurobodalla Shire Council disbanded the Management Committee in favour of Project Working groups that would be assembled just for the life of individual major projects then disbanded upon project completion. This formed one of the recommendations in the Botanic Gardens first 5 year Strategic plan that was adopted in 2013.

The Visitors Centre/Herbarium Building

The building was designed by architect Stuart Whitelaw, then of Whitelaw and Chrystal, Sydney. Construction began in 1999 and was completed in 2001. The Visitors Centre was officially opened by the Premier of NSW, Bob Carr, on 1 September 2001.

The tower above the middle of the building acts as a cooling tower in summer taking in hot air from the Herbarium and Visitors Centre through adjustable vents. The tower also holds a water tank which services the toilets and can be used to damp down the building in the event of fire. The Shire Council contributed $190,000 initially for the building. Much of the major building work has been carried out by contractors. The Friends contributed over $50,000 and many hours of voluntary work.

In 2016 Canberra based architects ClarkeKeller were engaged to provide plans for the redevelopment of the Visitor Centre and considerable changes will be implemented in the following years to meet the growing needs of the facility and the community.