Historic Gatekeepers Cottage restored as education, history hub

Historic Gatekeepers Cottage restored as education, history hub

The restoration of the Ballarat Botanical Gardens' Gatekeepers Cottage was revealed at an official opening on Thursday night.

Major work on the historic building was completed earlier this year and the space has been used as a history and education centre since May.

Friends of the Ballarat Botanical Gardens Gatekeepers Cottage and BotaniKIDS program convener Julie Bradby said she was feeling 'blessed' to be able to develop the site as a hub for education.

"If we start getting a strong program we can grow this as a wonderful place for children to learn beyond the school gate," she said.

"This would be a great headquarters for learning in this precinct."
The Gatekeepers Cottage has hosted children's nature education program BotaniKIDS around twice a week since May.

Volunteers also open the doors of the cottage to members of the general public at least once a week.
The front room is being set up for interpretation of the botanical gardens, with information on the evolution of plants and how it links with plants in the gardens and fernery. It will soon feature an exhibition of work by the Friends group's botanical artists.
Another room of the cottage is being dedicated to history displays, currently featuring information on World War I with plans for exhibits on the old zoo.

"The interpretation part is really important for visitors to the gardens and the community," Ms Bradby said.
"We have found a lot of visitors to the gardens are knocking on the door wanting to come in.
"We are encouraging visitors and school groups to enjoy the precinct, not just the gardens; there's the wetlands, the lake, the tramway, the gardens, the Prisoner's Of War Memorial, Olympic area and now the cottage."

The Friends of the Ballarat Botanical Gardens is in conversation with The Field Naturalists Ballarat who are looking to start a junior club and there are plans to start an after school botany club at the site.

"That's the sort of thing we can do now we have our own space," Ms Bradby said.

The official opening on Thursday night was a time to celebrate and thank the work of key stakeholders who made the cottage restoration happen, including City of Ballarat, Sue Guthrie and her family who were the last owners, Friends of the Ballarat Botanical Gardens members and donors who contributed to funding the project.
"It has been a fantastic story," Ms Bradby said.
The Gatekeepers Cottage was first erected in the Ballarat Botanical Gardens in the late 19th century.

It spent almost 85 years situated at 1414 Gregory Street as a residence before it was returned to its original home at the gardens in June 2017.

City of Ballarat funded the refurbishment works while Friends of the Ballarat Botanical Gardens funded the internal fit out of furniture and education fixtures.
The historical building was gifted to the community through the Friends of the Ballarat Botanical Gardens by its previous owners.

Gatekeeper's Cottage

Article copyright Rochelle Kirkham, as seen in The Courier, NOVEMBER 22 2019 - 3:30PM Website:  courier.com.au
Photo copyright Lance Bence, 'CELEBRATE: The official opening of the Ballarat Botanical Gardens Gatekeepers Cottage'.  Picture: copyriht Lachlan Bence as seen in The Courier, November 22, 2019 - 3:30PM