A proposal to build an extensive botanic garden in Queanbeyan will link the town’s river with the rest of the city while providing a major tourist drawcard akin to Canberra’s arboretum, according to Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional Council.
The project is part of the city’s ongoing beautification work on a parcel of land on both sides of the Queanbeyan River, from the existing Morisset Street low-level crossing, past Blundell Park, up to the railway corridor that defines the NSW/ACT border.
The botanic garden would connect the existing Queanbeyan River Walk with various spaces for locals to enjoy while acting as a tourist destination in the region.
Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional Council’s Service Manager Urban Landscapes Tim Geyer said the botanic garden could incorporate an arboretum and a range of Indigenous, Japanese and northern Macedonian plants that celebrate Queanbeyan’s Sister City relationships with Minami Alps City in Japan and a Friendship Agreement with Ohrid in northern Macedonia.
Mr Geyer said he hopes to present initial concepts and images to Council in the next four to six weeks before residents have their say on the look and feel of the area.
Mr Geyer told Region Media the proposal comes from a need to review the river corridor between the low-level crossing and the railway and provide an area that becomes one continuous parkland.
“The best way to describe the botanic garden is that it would be a series of spaces that join the existing spaces such as Blundell Oval and the peace park with a village green that could also be used for events and weddings,” he said.
“A playground could have a theme of ‘play and nature’ while using a botanical theme to introduce kids to nature and some of the ways we used to play in the old days.”
Mr Geyer said the proposal is in its infancy, so a landscape architect will be engaged to analyse the site to identify weeds for removal and native plants for protection.
“Our aim is to workshop the proposal with councillors, which will then go out for community engagement. All that feedback will then go to the new councillors coming in [after NSW local government elections are held in September].”
Mr Geyer said the proposal would include an arboretum on a smaller scale than that in Canberra, along with many botanical trees that could be used for studies by students and council staff.
“More important is that we want ownership from the community on this and have a ‘friends of the botanic gardens’ group up and running,” he said.
“This is a long-term legacy project that will be around for the next 50-plus years, just for the time it takes to grow the trees. It’s a project that can grow with the community, and we can add to it with things that represent the many cultures and stories of Queanbeyan.
“We see it as a great opportunity in the long-term for tourism in the city. It’s a short distance from the caravan park and the CBD. Eventually, we see the gardens as an area where the town could host an event with a theme that celebrates the gardens, similar to the cherry blossom festival at the Auburn Botanic Gardens in Sydney.”