The first stage of works to prepare the foundations of the fernery began this week.
The restoration project, fully-funded by the City of Ballarat, will see the reconstruction of the gothic style entry from the original fernery.
Local companies including builder Resicare Builders, steel fabricator Plinius Engineering and timber supplier Whiteheads Timbers have been appointed to the project.
City of Ballarat Mayor Cr Ben Taylor says the Ballarat Fernery reconstruction will return this important cultural asset to a wonderful destination for visitors to enjoy and will enhance the Ballarat Botanical Gardens’ plant collection.
“The Ballarat Fernery is one of the oldest of its kind in Australia. It has been open since the 1880s, making it a rich part of Ballarat’s history,” Cr Taylor says.
“The fernery’s core location in the Ballarat Botanical Gardens is important to the tourism offering of the entire precinct, which is home to Ballarat’s largest annual event, the Ballarat Begonia Festival, which attracts more than 40,000 people.”
The fernery is recognised by the Victorian Heritage Register Statement of Significance as an outstanding feature of the Ballarat Botanical Gardens.
It was closed in 2013 and was in a deteriorated and decaying state until it was demolished in 2019.
Timing for the delivery of stage two, which includes the remaining two thirds of the existing fernery structure, will be dependent on securing funding.
Public support for the Ballarat Fernery refurbishment was demonstrated during the Lake Wendouree Masterplan public consultation process, where more than 1,800 people identified the fernery as a precinct priority project.
The Ballarat Fernery is located on Wendouree Parade, in the centre of the Ballarat Botanical Gardens, and plays an important role in linking the North Gardens to the Botanical Gardens.
The new fernery will be a replica of the original timber building. The steel frame will be manufactured off-site and brought in once the foundation work is complete. It will be completely clad in timber to match the original building.
Works are expected to be completed later this year.