Educating Friends

BotaniKIDS, a 'growing' group of the Friends of the Ballarat Botanical Gardens

Planting Ideas for Growing Minds

This group was established to support, encourage and resource the young (and their grown ups) to explore, enjoy, appreciate and learn in and about the Gardens.

The BotaniKIDS group utilises the natural beauty and cultural aspects of the Gardens precinct to provide an exciting engaging array of opportunities that enriches the experience and learning possibilities.

The Gatekeepers Cottage

The Gatekeepers Cottage Nursery Drive, North Gardens Reserve

It could be said The Gatekeepers Cottage is the newest oldest building in the Ballarat Botanical Gardens!

The Gatekeepers Cottage is a newly restored 1860s architecturally designed timber cottage that was originally built to house one of the gardeners and his family within the Gardens precinct.  The Cottage was built near the Northern Gates which were closed and locked each evening ‘to keep the riff raff out'!  The Cottage was relocated to 1414 Gregory St in the 1933 at a cost to the owner [gardener] of 100 pounds. 

From that time the cottage housed the gardener his family and then relatives until 2013.  It was then the owners that had inherited the estate gifted the Cottage to the Friends of the Botanical Gardens as it was the wish of the family to return the Cottage to the Gardens.

After a few years of delays, heritage protection and subsequent lifting of that protection the fate of the Cottage was in serious doubt.  Finally and happily it was agreed by all stakeholders the Gatekeepers Cottage would be relocated back to the Gardens further encouraged and funded by a generous donor the Cottage was in 2017 removed from its Gregory st home to Nursery Drive in North Gardens Reserve, Ballarat Botanical Gardens.

The Cottage has been expertly and beautifully restored by the CoB in partnership with the Friends of the Ballarat Botanical Gardens.  The work of the CoB Gatekeepers Cottage Restoration Project Committee in consultation with Heritage Victoria and Heritage architect Wendy Jacobs.  The Cottage is a wonderful example of how a unique timber modest building of the 1860s in Ballarat is saved restored and reused.  It is now the ‘home’ of Botanikids and will be developed into an interpretive
centre for visitors to learn more about the Ballarat Botanical Gardens and its unique plants, collections and cultural heritage.

Our activities with Botanikids

Gatekeepers Cottage
A great feature of our sessions since May 2019 is we now have a home in the newly restored Gatekeepers Cottage *. It’s a space to base our organisation, resources office and smaller group sessions.

The large deck at the back is a great space for our potting and messier endeavours and conducting larger groups such as schools and holiday programs.

Botanikids learn really interesting nature science about water, fish, algae, plants, trees and peer at tiny bugs that live in Lake Wendouree and in the Gardens.

Botanikids are often treated with free tram rides by our friends in the Tramway Museum, visit the Fish Hatchery and often take visits into the Conservatory to see where special flowers and plants are displayed. 

Key Features of our Programs

Providing family activities in partnership with the Ballarat City Council based on creative outdoor play during the Begonia Festival giving children experiences that can be further developed in their own backyards.

Regular sessions for the under fives with our Cluster sessions.  The parents are treated to a homemade cake and coffee while their children are involved in book readings, songs, nature walks and crafts.

School Holiday programs with nature activities Nature Quests pamphlet for families/schools/Kinders that visit the Gardens.

Teacher Education Resources with seven specially written Units of Work linking to to Australian Curriculum from F-8 as well as useful links and resources.

Enquires to or Message: Ballarat Botanikds Facebook Page

Interesting Links

Learning from Trees
Life lessons for future generations.  National tree day.
Learning From Trees

Nature Play
"Why Nature's Play is Good for our Children!"

Nature Play WA
Getting children more involved with nature. Includes Things To Do, Nature Workshops, Family Nature Clubs and heaps more.

Connecting Children with Nature
"Benefits of Connecting Children with Nature"

Why our children need to get outside and engage with nature
"Why Playing in the Mud is More Than Just Fun" by Hyahno Moser 21 Feb 2015

Try Watching this video on Youtube

Copyright info: Into The Clouds by Nicolai Heidlas Music
Creative Commons - Attribution 3.0 Unported - CC BY
Music promoted by Audio Library



This walk was created by one of the BotaniKIDS team.  'Heather' grew up quite close by Fairyland and spent many happy hours as a child playing imagining, listening, watching and picnicking in Fairyland.

Please enjoy and know this 'walk' was shared as a special gesture to those that wish to enjoy and discover the magic of Fairyland too!

Click the image below to down our Fairyland Walk pdf

A visit from Gardening Australia host – Costa! 

We had an unexpected visit from Costa when he was filming in the gardens!  

He was so impressed with the Cottage and what Julie and her team do with Botanikids he did a live video stream on facebook.  Click on the link below to see it.  It is such a fantastic promotion for the Friends, the Gatekeepers Cottage and the Botanikids!

Costa's visits the Botanikids at the Gatekeeper's Cottage Video

Costa at Cottage Begonia 2022 Photo Kim Nolan



View our Events/Activities & Book/Register on Facebook

Check out our Facebook, Ballarat BotaniKIDS page for upcoming events, links, ideas, recipes and sharing. You can view our activities, times and register/book on our FB page as well. Like us please we are nearing 1500 likers!
At all events children will need to be supervised fully by carers, parents or teachers.

BotaniKIDS facebook for upcoming events and dates....

Activities to Download

Ballarat BotaniKIDS invite you to download....

Trees Please (for under 5 quests)

Tree Quest (pdf here)


Come to the Gardens and enjoy....

  • Family Nature Quests
  • Holiday Activities
  • Play Days
  • Nature Playgroup
  • School Tours and Activities on request
  • Productive Garden Courses

Educational Resources

More Teacher & Educator Resources information here.


Email us for more information