The Daylesford Gardens at Wombat Hill

The Daylesford Gardens at Wombat Hill

The History and Original Images

The Daylesford Gardens are located on top of Wombat Hill, which is an extinct volcano. A very unique choice for the location of these enchanting botanical gardens.

In 1861 the site was chosen and has proven to be an excellent choice as the gardens are absolutely stunning in design and the views from the gardens are outstanding.

This image to the right shows Daylesford in the late 1800s. The gardens are taking shape with many tall trees showing on the skyline.

The Royal Hotel, built in 1856 can be seen on the left.

The Convent can be seen below the Wombat Hill Gardens. The convent was originally a 2 storey residence, later became a Catholic convent and is now the ‘Convent Gallery’.

Some of the streets can also be seen in their early days, Albert St, Vincent St, Bridport St, Daly St and Hill St.

Several of the buildings shown in the image may still be standing today.

Wombat Hill can be seen from most locations in Daylesford.

When you visit the gardens enjoy the spectacular views over Daylesford and beyond.

The History of the Daylesford Gardens

The Wombat Hill Botanical Gardens were established in the 1860s and in 2013 will celebrate it’s 150th year. The gardens are built on an extinct volcano which was named ‘Wombat Hill’ many years ago.

Volunteer group, ‘Friends of Wombat Hill Botanical Gardens’ have an excellent summary of the early history of the gardens.

Over the years the gardens have seen many changes as the caretakers have made alterations in design to gardens, paths, structures and buildings.

Some of these changes may have been done for safety of the visitors to the garden because some structures may have been deemed unstable, while others were simply updated.

In 1948 a brick house was built for the garden’s curator. It was constructed within the grounds of the garden and recently has been renovated for the ‘Wombat Hill House Cafe’ which is owned by Lake House.

The trees that where planted in the early years are huge and quite majestic. There are some rare trees to be admired, many have labels to help with identification.

Even though the gardens have changed over the years they are a ‘must see’ attraction that you will want to revisit many times. Each season brings new growth, colour changes and new views from every angle.

Provided the gardens are looked after, they will be here for the future generations of visitors to Daylesford to enjoy, discover and explore.

The images below are all original and show how much the gardens have changed.

Gardens, Pathways and the Original Rotunda

1907 – Showing the pathway up to the original rotunda and the old conservatory

1907 – Looking at the rotunda from a different angle with the ‘Monkey Puzzle Tree’ to the right, which is still there but it is now a huge tree.

1916 – A man hand watering the gardens

Daylesford gardens wombat hill original rotunda history photo

1920 – This is the original rotunda, a replica rotunda is in the gardens now. The original rotunda was used as a bandstand and the visitors had many fun days listening to the local brass band play their tunes.

The Fernery

The Fernery in the Daylesford Gardens had been neglected in the 1950s and 1960s but fortunately is has partially been restored more recently, more work is planned to restore it to the way it was many years ago.

Daylesford gardens wombat hill history photo fernery


Photo taken between 1920 and 1954

The Pioneer’s Memorial Tower and Reservoir

Daylesford gardens wombat hill pioneers memorial tower

This photo of the Lookout Tower was taken in the early 1960s.
The Pioneer’s Memorial Tower was officially opened in 1938 with much fanfare and celebrations. It was dedicated to the people that pioneered Daylesford and Australia, at that time Australia was only about 150 years old.

Daylesford gardens wombat hill pioneer lookout tower reservoir

Photo taken between 1920 and 1954

The Pioneer’s Memorial Lookout Tower took about ten years to get from the ‘idea’ to it being completed. It cost over 1000 pounds, the funds came from many sources including the government, the public, the Forestry Commission but they were still two hundred pounds short. The local citizens helped and starting selling buttons or badges with a picture of the tower on them. All the money must have been raised.

This reservoir was built in 1888-89 and a smaller reservoir nearby in 1969, later in the 1990s they were both covered with corrugated iron roofs.

Snow at the Daylesford Gardens

Daylesford is 616 metres above sea level and snow is quite possible in winter, it does make some stunning scenery if you don’t mind freezing to see the views.

Photo taken in 1918

Photo taken in 1918

Entrances to the Daylesford Gardens

These entrances to the Daylesford gardens have changed to more modern gateways from what these images show from many years ago.

Daylesford gardens wombat hill entrance gate

1907 – South side entrance to the gardens

Photo taken between 1920 and 1954 – Entrance into the gardens looking outwards

Daylesford gardens wombat hill entrance gate

Photo taken between 1920 and 1954

The Daylesford Gardens on Wombat Hill are full of history, stunning trees, a huge variety of plant life and flowers of all shapes and colours. There are many beautiful spots to have a picnic and take in the view.

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