It’s been a bumpy few years for the Eurobodalla Regional Botanic Garden, but the gates have swung open again and staff are hoping visitors will flock back to the much-loved facility.
With COVID-19 lockdowns lifting in regional NSW this week, garden manager Michael Anlezark has been able to welcome visitors back to the venue which has been ranked as one of the region’s top tourist drawcards.
“Garden staff have been working hard during the COVID lockdown and we can’t wait to show off our new barbecue area and inspiring naturescape display gardens, which are just getting their finishing touches over the next couple of weeks,” Mr Anlezark said.
The eye-catching covered barbecue complex has been built from local timber – blackbutt and forest red gum – and will keep keen cooks safe from the elements while sizzling up their bangers and burgers this summer.
But it’s the display gardens that are Mr Anlezark’s favourite new attraction.
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“We’ve designed four gardens – formal, cottage, wildlife and coastal – which show gardeners how to use local plants in their own patch in ways that increase biodiversity, reduce maintenance and really suit our coastal way of life,” Mr Anlezark said.
“They’re just planted out now, so there’s a bit of growing to do but give them a year or two and they’ll be something special.”
People will be able to walk through each garden and learn about water use, the features of each plant and how they grow.
Mr Anlezark said the garden had also taken the opportunity to upgrade its website and social media presence.
“Our new website looks stunning and is so much easier to navigate,” he said.
“We are also prioritising our social media presence and we’ll be directing a lot more content to Facebook and Instagram.”
As well as the pandemic, the garden has had to navigate the impact of the Black Summer bushfires in recent years.
Thanks to good design and materials, recently completed buildings – a new visitors centre, café and herbarium – survived the fire that swept through the garden on New Year’s Eve 2019, but most of the 32-hectares of conservation area was seriously impacted and many precious species of flora were lost.
Eurobodalla Shire Council staff and volunteers worked tirelessly to salvage and restore what they could. More than 250 dead or dangerous trees were removed, paths were cleared and bridges rebuilt to allow the conservation facility and tourist attraction to reopen in July 2020.
Then came the pandemic, which delivered the additional blow of forcing many of the volunteers to stay home until it was safe for them to return.
Now, with COVID-19 measures in place to ensure everyone is safe, garden staff and volunteers are hoping visitors and locals will take the time to revisit this much-loved local icon and take a look at the results of all their hard work.