Williamstown Botanic Gardens, Hobsons Bay Heritage Study 2006
Statement of Significance
What is Significant?
The Williamstown Botanic Gardens, originally laid out between 1856-60 by William Bull to a design by Edward La Trobe Bateman with later amendments by S Thake, at Osborne Street, Williamstown.
How is it Significant?
The Williamstown Botanic Gardens are of local historic, aesthetic, scientific (horticultural) and social significance to the City of Hobsons Bay and the State of Victoria.
Why is it Significant?
The significance of the Williamstown Botanic Gardens is described by Heritage Victoria as follows:
The Williamstown Botanic Gardens are historically important as one of Victoria's earliest and most intact botanic gardens and along with St Kilda, one of only two suburban botanic gardens established in the 19th century in Victoria. They are one of seven botanic gardens established in Victoria between 1846 and 1856. They are significant for the retention of the geometric layout typical of Victoria's earliest botanic gardens. The gardens have considerable significance for their strong association with eminent 19th century landscape designer Edward La Trobe Bateman and for their early connections with Ferdinand von Mueller and Daniel Bunce. (AHC criteria A4 and D2)
The Gardens are aesthetically significant for their excellent design and for the remarkably elegant execution of that design within a small, flat site. Important facets of the layout are the major north-south and east-west axes, the vista to Hobsons Bay, the impressive central palm avenue, the major focal point around the AT Clarke statue and the deliberately enclosed nature of the site which enhances the wide variety of internal views and spatial experiences within the framework of the formal layout. The striking palms (Washingtonia Robusta, Phoenix canariensis and Butia capitata) with their different forms and colour, provide a dramatic and contrasting landscape character against the evergreen and deciduous background. The strikingly intact Victorian layout, early tree plantings, the palms, the pinetum and the pond, structures and herbaceous and woody plantings from the Edwardian period all contribute to the picturesque landscape. (AHC criteria B2, E1 and F1)
The Gardens have scientific (horticultural) significance for their collection of plants, particularly the dominating palm and conifer themes and the large quantity of plants remaining from the Edwardian and Victorian periods. The Crinum asiaticum is rare in cultivation. The 19th century pinetum, densely planted with a collection of conifers displaying interesting forms and foliage, is significant as an enclosed dark, evergreen space forming an effective windbreak for the Gardens in their coastal setting. It features a central avenue and two outside rows of Cupressus macrocarpa, a row along the south boundary and a Pinus halepensis row along the east and west boundaries. (AHC criterion B2)
The Gardens are socially important for their long and continuous relationship with the citizens of Williamstown, who were largely responsible for their creation and early development and who continue to use them as a place of recreation. (AHC criterion G1)
Note: Included on the Victorian Heritage Register as VHR H1803.