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Kiwi quarry gardens lead the way

An old Whangarei quarry site turned into a ‘quarry garden’ has been promoted as a ‘template’ for converting a disused Aussie site into botanical gardens.

THE TOOWOOMBA REGIONAL COUNCIL in Queensland, in conjunction with the incorporated Friends of the Quarry Gardens, is conducting a $250,000 Queensland Government-funded feasibility study to decide the best future development of the Bridge Street Quarry site.

The 17 hectare site, owned by the council, was mined for over a century but hasn’t been operated since 1993.

The local ‘Quarry Gardens’ concept was first proposed in 2001, but did not progress due to the severe drought and water restrictions placed on the city of Toowoomba.

Whangarei Quarry Gardens founder Laughton King and its general manager David McDermott were part of an international delegation that descended on Toowoomba in late May at the invitation of Toowoomba Regional Council.

“It’s an affirmation for all of the people, all the ideas and all of the energy that has gone into the Whangarei Quarry Gardens, that it is now being sought as a template for other projects elsewhere in the world,” King told media sources.

Following the workshop, a delegation from the Toowoomba Regional Council delegation was due to visit the Whangarei Quarry Garden in June on a fact-finding mission.

The Toowoomba quarry site is said to feature similarities to the five hectare former Whangarei quarry, which was donated to the Whangarei District Council in 1974 to become part of the city’s parks and reserves network. The land lay uncultivated for 20 years, overgrown with weeds and rubbish until Laughton King approached the council over creating a public garden on the site in 1990.

Wrights Watergardens in Patumahoe, south of Auckland, was developed from an old Stevies quarry.

Then, in 1997, the Whangarei council purchased 2.5 hectares of adjoining land to form a link to the top north-west border and a group of enthusiasts – Friends of the Quarry Garden – began clearing the overgrown site.

A Charitable Trust was formed in 1998 and the Whangarei Quarry Gardens project has since continued to grow.

Other ‘quarry gardens’ covered in Q&M magazine in past issues include the world renowned Butchart Gardens in Canada, created from exhausted limestone quarry on Vancouver Island that stopped producing in 1909; the 5.5 hectare Eden Garden in the heart of Auckland (developed from the city’s orginal bassalt quarry); and Wrights Watergardens in Patumahoe, south of Auckland, developed from an old Stevies quarry used to make the road to the Glenbrook Steel Mill.


This article was first published in the August 2018 issue of Contractor Magazine.

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