The Guiding Friends are interested in learning and sharing their knowledge of these heritage gardens. The guides pride themselves on their friendly and informative tours.
Informal meetings are held on the 4th Tuesday of the month at 10 am in the George Longley Building. The meetings are more like workshops and a range of activities takes place – guest speakers, garden tours, excursions, preparing brochures and AV presentations to enhance visitors' experience of the gardens and opportunities to research topics of interest. The aim of the meetings is to support each other in our quest to become more knowledgeable and confident guides. If you want to learn about the Gardens and to help visitors enjoy them please consider joining the Guiding Group. Guiding is often very busy at peak times and we need more guides. Contact the Convenor of the Guides group and come and try and see if you enjoy.
Guided Tours of the Gardens
Volunteers guides of the FBBG (Friends of Ballarat Botanical Gardens) take guided walks and tours and cover the highlights of the gardens and the stories behind these historic gardens established in 1858.
- Meet in front of the Conservatory.
- Book through the Robert Clark Centre (5364 2764).
- Bookings need to be made at least a week prior to your visit.
Booked Guided Walks for Groups
- Tours take approximately one hour but can be negotiated depending on the interests and needs of the group.
- We provide enough guides per tour so that groups will be small (10 people or less).
- Cost for these tours are $5 per head.
- Local Ballarat groups are discounted and tours are $2 per head.
Guided Sunday Leisurely Walk in Autumn and Spring
- No booking required. Held every Sunday in Autumn and Spring.
- Sunday morning at 11 am.
- General tour but with an emphasis on the garden’s seasonal highlights at the time of the tour.
- No charge but donation appreciated.
Specialised Tour Catered to Meet Your Needs and Interests
Indicate if you want your tour to explore more fully particular aspects of the gardens. Guides can provide hour long tours of the following if required:
- Statues (Stoddart and Thompson collection and other garden statues).
- Heritage trees.
- Prime Ministers Avenue.
- Western Bed (plant collection along Gilles Street).
- Garden history and its changes over time.
Self - Guided Tours
At the conservatory collect brochures prepared by the guides and then do your own guided interpretative tour. The brochure has a walk plan and notes. The Significant trees (download pdfs here - Significant trees brochure front, Significant trees brochure back) and Statues Brochures are now available . A new brochure on the Prime Ministers Avenue will also be available soon.
A Self Guided Trail brochure of notable features can be printed in two parts Trail map - part 1 (pdf-160k) Trail map - part 2 (pdf-572k)
Talks to Community Groups
Guides can also offer illustrated talks to community groups on aspects of the gardens - history, trees, statues, Prime Ministers Avenue, Western Bed.
April/May 2013 the guides conducted a series of 6 classes for Ballarat U3A (University of the Third Age) on Tuesday mornings. This provided an opportunity for this group to explore and develop their knowledge and understanding of the Ballarat Botanical Gardens.
Specialised Tours, more information:
- The Stoddart Statues - 19th century collection of 12 classical statues of Carrara marble, gift of wealthy stockbroker, Thomas Stoddart, unveiled in 1884. How and why did they come to decorate the Ballarat Gardens?
- The Western Border project - extending the entire length of the Gillies Street boundary planted with many varieties of drought-resistant plants thus greatly increasing the botanical diversity of the gardens.
- The Prime Ministers Avenue - every Australian Prime Minister since Federation of the states in 1901 due to the generosity of Richard Armstrong Crouch (1869-1949) politician and soldier. Mr Rudd's bust was unveiled in 2009 as the latest addition in the avenue of horse chestnuts.
- The Sequoiadenrons - (Sequoiadenron gigantea) the first specimens were planted in 1863 and are truly gigantic creating a cathedral-like setting which is popular for outdoor weddings. Stretching for one mile (1.6k) these trees form the N-S axis of the gardens known early on as the Wellingtonia avenue. A great deal of effort has been devoted to alleviating the stress evident on these much treasured trees. Spraying of heat canker fungus, coring for deep watering, mulching of vast understory areas have involved considerable expense. Despite these methods there have been some losses, removals and replacements. Such is the impact of drought and climate change in the management of the gardens.
- A Children's Tour - curriculum programs P-10 are available on DVD and a self-guided trail is suitable for all ages, but a guided walk especially for littlies is very exciting. The gardens are just the place for a great range of enriching experiences using all the senses of sight, sound, smell and touch. This is a wonderful opportunity to increase children's vocabulary and for language development.