The Rosalind Park is located on the northern fringe of Bendigo’s City Centre and is the pride of Goldrush era city of Bendigo in Victoria, Australia. Before the establishment of a park here, it was a woodland area with mostly River Red Gums with the Bendigo Creek passing through it. The area where the Fernery is now situated was once a bend in the Bendigo Creek.
Rosalind Park precinct includes recreational and sports facilities, civic, cultural and arts facilities. The Rosalind Park recreation reserve is 25.6 ha, apart from that includes other independently managed areas like Bendigo Secondary School and Camp Hill Primary School, the Bendigo theatre and the Dai Gum San Chinese precinct. The sports facilities in the park precinct includes, Queen Elizabeth Oval, Net ball courts, Bendigo Aquatic centre, Lawn Bowls, Croquet courts and a velodrome. The Camp Hill Primary School playground is available for public use after school hours. The Queen Elizabeth oval is primarily used for Cricket and Football.
Among the art and cultural centres, The Capital is a venue for performing art exhibitions, events and corporate functions. Bendigo Art Gallery, which was established in 1887 is one of the oldest galleries in Australia. It houses a collection of historic and contemporary art. The Ulumbarra Theatre, which was once Sandhurst Gaol building, operates as a theatre with a seating capacity close to 1000.
The other attractions at the park include, Poppet Head Lookout tower, the cascades, the fernery, the conservatory gardens, Lansell gardens and the Chinese Gardens. The Poppet head located at the top of the Camp Hill was originally at the Garden Gully United mine and was moved here in 1931. It was used as a spot to hoist flags to indicate mail had arrived in town.
The conservatory situated at the Conservatory Gardens is Victoria’s only surviving nineteenth century conservatory within a public park. The former Municipal Baths is a fenced water body now with no public access.
Tom Flood Sports Centre situated at the corner of Barnard and Water streets is home to Velodrome with a historic grandstand. Bendigo International Madison and many other major sporting and cultural events are hosted at the Sports Centre.
The cascades are a reconstructed 19th century water feature. In 1880, the mayor and the councillors decided to build a water feature. The part of the funding was provided by George Lansell, mining millionaire known as Quartz King. The cascades were designed by William Charles Vahland, who was also behind many of Bendigo’s architectural wonders. It fell into disrepair during the 20th century. Work commenced on its restoration on 5th February 1996 and was completed by October 1997.
The stone lined Bendigo Creek channel passes through the park and three iron bridges passes over the creek. The Lower Reserve of the park is mainly characterised by lawn areas tree avenues, featuring fernery, garden beds and rotunda is located at the north of Bendigo Creek.
Under the European settlers the park began its life as Government Camp Precinct. Gold was found in Bendigo in 1851, and Surveyor George Urquhart mapped the land and designated it as Government Camp for the goldfields in 1852. The Rosalind Park precinct is bound by Pall Mall, Bridge Street, Park Road, Barnard Street and View Street. A puddling mill remained within the precinct which was removed when the land was turned as a park.
Joseph Panton was appointed as Assistant Gold Commissioner at Kangaroo Gully near Bendigo in 1852 and was promoted as Senior Gold Commissioner of Bendigo in 1856. Joseph Panton in 1856, suggested turning the Government Camp which was the site of makeshift buildings, into a park. Makeshift buildings soon became permanent structures and by the time Australia became a Federation, Rosalind Park Precinct was home to a Courthouse, stables, superintendent’s and resident warden’s offices, a gaol and Police Barrack.
Public works Office was built in 1858 and Queen Elizabeth Oval Cottage was built in the 1890’s to house the Upper Reserve Keeper. Rosalind Park Government Camp was one of the largest among the Victorian Goldfield camps. Powder magazine and Keepers quarters were also constructed. The camp also included: Police Barracks (1860); Former Supreme Court (1857); HM Prison Bendigo (1861); Camp Hill Central School Number 1976 (1877) and the Bendigo Senior Secondary School .
In 1861, 59 acres of the land were reserved for a park and Sandhurst Borough was made responsible for managing it. In 1862, George Brown was appointed as the first curator of Rosalind Park.
There are many statues at the park enhancing its beauty. Some of the well-known ones situated at the Rosalind Park Precinct are:
statue of Venus – Presented to the citizens of Bendigo by W. M. Hunter in 1901
Queen Victoria monument (1903) – Victoria, Queen of earthly Queens, 1837 – 1901. Then Mayor of Bendigo, Cr Curnow, performed the ceremony of unveiling the statue of Queen Victoria on Tuesday 14th April, 1903. Creator: James White
George Lansell monument – The ‘Quartz King’, holding a piece of quartz in his hand.
Ernest Mueller Bust (1910) – Erected by citizens of Bendigo and dedicated on 29th August, 1914, to perpetuate the memory of the late Ernest Mueller Esq, sharebroker and mining investor who died in 1910.
Sir John Quick bust (1934) – lawyer and statesman and one of the authors of the Australian Constitution, Sir John Quick’s statue was dedicated on 1st December 1934
bronze sculpture of George V (1938) – Designed by John Elischer, statue was dedicated on 5th November 1939
Man fighting Wild animals – presented by Mayor Harkness in 1899
James Curnow memorial fountain: To commemorates James H. Curnow, former Mayor and founder of sewerage in Bendigo. This was dedicated on 11th August 1939