Look further than Maitland Park for Geraldton botanic garden

Grant WoodhamsGeraldton Guardian
Irene Ghannage sits in front of the current Maitland Park sign.
Camera IconIrene Ghannage sits in front of the current Maitland Park sign. Credit: Geraldton Guardian, The Geraldton Guardian

My old mate Stan Maley has been working consistently for some considerable years now trying to create a botanic garden in Geraldton.

It is a brilliant idea and would be another feather in our increasingly growing cap if it could be achieved.

His mob, FROGGs (Friends of Geraldton Gardens), have been lobbying all and sundry in recent times to try and get part of Maitland Park set aside for a miniature version of Kings Park.

Now I don’t know the ins and outs of what can and can’t be done with Maitland Park but its location does lend itself splendidly to the idea of our own botanic showcase.

However, Maitland Park, in my humble opinion, is already under significant pressure from a range of different user groups and other locations and options should be explored for our botanic landscape.

One place I’d like to see turned into a garden masterpiece is the former site of the John Frewer Boys’ Hostel on the corner of Shenton Street and Cathedral Avenue, which has sat unoccupied for at least 12 months.

The only thing growing there that I’ve seen are weeds and a collection of empty cans and bottles.

The vacant block is owned by the State of Western Australia. Perhaps they have plans for some sort of redevelopment, but nothing that has been publicly announced. It’s worth considering though and I’d rather look at a display of the Mid West’s best botanic specimens as opposed to a predictable slab of concrete, metal and glass.

But I suppose I’m dreaming on that one.

The other place that immediately describes itself as a potential botanic gardens is the Olive Street Reserve in Mahomets Flats. It has recently been remediated and has a World War 1 memorial located at one end.

I’m not sure but it appears that the rest of the considerably sized reserve is public open space. I don’t know if FROGGs have contemplated this option. As I understand it, Olive Street Reserve is marked exclusively for recreational use so the gardens would be a marvellous fit.

Not too far away, the land next to the Batavia Coast Maritime Institute at Separation Point also exhibits some potential.

I’m no expert on what sorts of flora would qualify for our own botanic gardens. I’ll happily leave those decisions to Stan and his army of FROGGs. Let’s hope they soon occupy some land.

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