3 September 2021

Goulburn's historic roses outside hospital given a new lease on life

| Kim Treasure
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Goulburn Rose Committee members and Goulburn High School students outside Goulburn Base Hospital

Before the current COVID-19 lockdown, the Goulburn Hospital and Health Service Redevelopment project team began relocating historic roses at the hospital, with the help of the Goulburn Rose Committee and Goulburn High School. Photo: Supplied.

For more than 25 years, the rose bushes outside Goulburn Base Hospital have provided a beautiful, physical tribute to many people who have been born, died or worked in the health facility.

One was planted in honour of a former hospital matron, another two by an excited new father celebrating the birth of his son. The most tragic was the one planted in honour of 16-year-old Adele Smith, whose manslaughter rocked the Goulburn community in 1998.

Adele was shot by her ex-partner Paull McLaughlin while she lay in her hospital bed recovering from a horse riding accident. The teen died as a result of her wounds and a hybrid tea bush rose was planted in her memory.

When Adele’s mother, Mary Dempsey, found out the rose bushes planted outside the hospital’s maternity section would be lost as a result of the current $165 million redevelopment, she spoke out, and it seems the authorities have listened.

The Goulburn Hospital and Health Service Redevelopment project team has now relocated the historic roses with the help of the Goulburn Rose Committee and Goulburn High School.

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Southern NSW Local Health District’s (SNSWLHD) Tablelands general manager Brian Bonham said the project team has engaged the expertise of the Goulburn Rose Committee to catalogue, take cuttings and replant roses within the hospital grounds.

“It is incredibly important that we continue to honour the memories associated with each of the roses,” he said.

“Many were planted in honour of people, including 16-year-old Adele Smith, whose tragic death in 1998 rocked the Goulburn community.

“On Friday, 30 July, volunteers from the Goulburn Rose Society [Committee], students from Goulburn High School and the redevelopment project team put their green thumbs to work in the winter sunshine to preserve and relocate approximately 30 roses and rose bushes.

Mary Dempsey and Alan Smith

Mary Dempsey and Alan Smith with the rose bush planted in honour of their late daughter, Adele Smith. Photo: Supplied.

“We were very privileged to welcome Adele’s parents, Alan Smith and Mary Dempsey, to the relocation working bee. Mr Smith helped with the replanting, with Ms Dempsey electing to take Adele’s memorial rose home to her garden. A new white rose will be planted in honour of their daughter.

“It’s imperative this history is preserved and we’re thrilled the Goulburn Rose Society [Committee] has extended their generosity, knowledge and expertise to assist the redevelopment team with this special project.”

Health Infrastructure senior project director Deirdre Barnes said retaining the roses had always been a key element in the landscaping for the redevelopment.

“It is great to see the work underway, and we’ve been very fortunate to have involvement from Goulburn High School students through the Year 9 High Aspirations Program (HAP) to assist us as we work to ensure these beautiful blooms live on as part of the new redevelopment,” she said.

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The HAP program aims to encourage students to think more critically about their career goals. Prior to the current COVID-19 lockdown, students were working with the project team in their chosen area of interest, including future healthcare, construction, interior design, mural design, communications and landscaping.

The relocation working bee provided students with the opportunity to learn directly from three experienced landscapers.

The roses have been replanted onsite in the front semicircle garden, and will remain a key feature of Goulburn Base Hospital, complementing the hospital’s garden design.

The $165 million Goulburn Hospital and Health Service Redevelopment is progressing well, with the Clinical Services Building on track for completion in late 2021. It is planned to open its doors to the public in early 2022, followed by a final-works phase to finalise the project.

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