6.3 ha, Malmsbury Botanic Gardens are situated 100km north west of Melbourne CBD in the country town of Malmsbury. Malmsbury was part of Alexander Mollison’s pastoral run known as Colliban from 1837 to 1851. In the mid 1800’s rich agricultural land and gold bearing soils made Malmsbury a thriving service town for diggers on the goldfields. As prosperity and increased population demanded facilities and opulence, service industries sprang up in the area. In 1851, land was surveyed and reserved for the Malmsbury township.
The land where Malmsbury Botanic Gardens now stands was reserved for public use in 1855 and approved for the use for a botanic garden in 1857. The gardens established in 1863 is bound by Calder Highway, Ellesmere Place, and the Coliban River. This is one of the oldest Victorian Botanic Gardens. Development as a garden began in 1863. Coliban Rivers borders the western side of the gardens and the Malmsbury viaduct, constructed in 1859 spans across the river. In 1868 Malmsbury Town Hall was constructed in north-eastern corner of the Gardens, which increased the public interest in the garden. A war memorial gate was constructed after World War I.
The early plantings at the gardens were sourced from Melbourne Botanic Gardens, with the help of Baron Ferdinand Von Mueller. On 17th November 1985, then Minister for Conservation Forests and Lands, Joan Kirner planted Eucalyptus muelleriana at the gardens to commemorate Victoria’s sesquicentenary and Baron Ferdinand von Mueller’s contribution to horticulture.
In 1955, Malmsbury Botanic Garden legislation amended to include provision of public recreation. Until then in records, this was only a reserve for a botanic garden. In the 1970’s Management of the Garden becomes the joint responsibility of the Shire of Kyneton and the Department of Conservation Forests and Lands. In 1995, Shire of Macedon Ranges were formed which became responsible for the management of the gardens. In 1998, the Gardens were classified and listed on the National Trust Register. On 27th October 2002, then Governor of Victoria, John Landy unveiled a plaque to mark the inclusion of the gardens in the Victorian Heritage Register.
In the early days of its existence, the gardens were a favourite recreational site for locals. Activities conducted in the gardens included: croquet, tennis, and lawn bowls. The bowling green and pavilion were constructed in 1882. They remained in place until 1890, when they lost favour and tennis courts were developed. In 1871, along the south side of the garden, a row of poplar trees was planted forming a cool and shady avenue. The Poplar avenue hosted many children’s spring and three-legged races during boxing day celebrations, which were an annual event at the Malmsbury Gardens. During the 1950’s trees at the avenue were suffering from disease and a decline in health due to age. Most of the trees were removed and very few of the original trees remain today. The poplar avenue consists of two stands of Populus nigra italica commonly known as the Lombardy Poplar.
The ornamental lake and the historic bluestone fountains are the major attractions of the garden apart from the Malmsbury viaduct.
Address: 5 Ellesmere Pl, Malmsbury VIC 3446
Facilities: Toilets, Picnic tables, Free electric BBQ, Undercover area, walking tracks, fenced playground
Dogs allowed on leads.