I can still recall watching the Gatekeepers Cottage on the back of a truck as it was relocated to the Ballarat Botanical Gardens in 2017.
If I think back even further I can also remember it age over time at 1414 Gregory Street, where it sat for more than 85 years.
What I never had the chance to see, was this building when it was located at our beautiful gardens.
We estimate the Gatekeepers Cottage was erected in the Ballarat Botanical Gardens in the late 19th Century – making it one of the oldest surviving buildings we can date back to the gardens.
The Gatekeepers Cottage has a long and strong history with the Ballarat Botanical Gardens and it is important it remains a significant part of our community into the future.
So, to celebrate its historical importance, the doors to the Gatekeepers Cottage will re-open to the public. This Ballarat Heritage Weekend you will have the chance to explore the recently-restored Gatekeepers Cottage.
Since its relocation back to the gardens, the City of Ballarat has worked with a number of locals to return this building to its former glory.
The restoration and refurbishment works mean the building can now be used as a space to showcase the history of our gardens, as well as allowing the Friends of the Ballarat Botanical Gardens to expand their education activities.
I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the Friends of the Ballarat Botanical Gardens who have played a significant role in ensuring the cottage will be a functional feature of the gardens for years to come. To Val Newman whom without we would not have had the opportunity to see the cottage back where it belongs. And to local heritage architect Wendy Jacobs and local builder Peter Broadhead for their work in restoring this beloved building.
Local trades and supplies have been used throughout the entire restoration, adding to what is already a uniquely Ballarat story.
When you step inside this Ballarat Heritage Weekend you will notice we have reused existing materials where possible.
The cottage now sits on a new foundation and the original frame has been repaired and straightened.
The chimney and front verandah have been reconstructed to match the original detail, and external cladding has also been restored.
A new deck area has been constructed to provide visitors a public space to sit and take in the precinct, as well as allowing for outdoor education sessions to take place.
While you will notice the original front door remains, we have improved the entry and the internal spaces to ensure it’s accessible by all.
Further works are to be completed to provide a more permanent, landscaped accessible link to the Wendouree Parade precinct.
One of my favourite elements is the landscaping works. A cottage garden and picket fence allow us to visualise how this cottage may have looked in the 19th Century, as well as ensuring a linkage with the surrounding Botanical Gardens precinct.
I look forward to sharing this wonderful piece of Ballarat history with you over Heritage Weekend.