Gardens of beauty and a fountain of joy
CONSTRUCTION of phase two of the Queens Park Military Memorial has attracted welcome attention to one of the jewels in Maryborough's heritage crown, the botanic gardens.
The planning and construction of the gardens began in the early 1870s and became part of a wider movement in Queensland (initiated by Walter Hill of the Brisbane Botanic Gardens) to provide beautiful public spaces for residents in the colony's growing towns and cities.
By the time Queens Park was established, places like Ipswich and Toowoomba already had successful public gardens showcasing native and exotic botanical specimens in and around the latest public garden designs.
A walk around Queens Park today can reveal glimpses back into the early period of park.
The banyan tree, a place of mystery for generations of local children, was planted in the early 1900s while large surviving specimens of bunya pine and the sausage tree (near the park entrance in Bazaar St), as well as the native crow ash are believed to be taken from botanical specimens found in John Carne Bidwill's botanical garden near Tinana Creek.
The most charming examples of late 19th century garden design can be found in the area around the Melville fountain and band rotunda.
On the death of Ms Janet Melville in the late 1880s, funds were made available to be distributed locally after she inherited the wealth from her brother Andrew Wedderburn Melville, a former mayor of Maryborough who died in 1882.
The Hon AH Wilson was authorised by the trustee's of Ms Melville's estate to seek out a suitable fountain while on holiday in Scotland.
The fountain chosen was exhibited at the Glasgow International Exhibition in 1888 and arrived in Maryborough in December 1889.
A report in The Maryborough Chronicle detailed the unveiling of the fountain:
"The Melville Memorial Fountain is now erected under the ornamental pavilion in the Botanic Gardens and is at least an attractive object."
Today, the fountain and bandstand continue to provide enjoyment and are gentle reminder of not only the generosity of some of Maryborough's first residents but also of an age where elegance in public spaces was appreciated.