NOW OPEN: Double the bloom room with $400K upgrade
BEING the largest publicly-owned orchid collection in Australia, the Hervey Bay Orchid House was in desperate need of expansion.
That wish became a reality with the council expanding the Botanic Gardens facility to almost double its previous size.
At the re-opening last Thursday, Fraser Coast Mayor George Seymour said the Orchid House - which was originally built with a federal government grant as part of the Century of Federation Celebrations in 2001 - had become a popular attraction on the Fraser Coast with both locals and tourists keen to see rare orchids in flower.
"To properly showcase the orchid collection, the facility needed to expand and Council was able to undertake this $400,000 project with the help of a $344,900 grant through the State Government's Works for Queensland program," Cr Seymour said.
"The extra space will allow the staff and volunteers to showcase more of the wonderful orchids in our collection as well as cater for a larger audience at their many classes and demonstrations, which until now had to be held outside on the grass."
The building work started in May and has taken five months to complete.
"The project included a covered area which links the Orchid House with a new viewing deck overlooking the botanic garden lagoon," Cr Seymour said.
"There is also space for a future coffee shop. Given the popularity of the Orchid House and the botanic gardens, it may not be long until the coffee shop is fitted out."
The 5,500-strong collection was started in 1997 when Bay resident John Sheppard generously donated his personal orchid collection which consisted of mainly Cattleya and Vanda Hybrids.
For the past 22 years, thanks to donations from other residents, the collection has become iconic.
Today the collection consists of more than 5,500 epiphytic, lithophytic and terrestrial orchid species and hybrids from tropical and subtropical regions across the world.
Hervey Bay retiree Carol Morgan, who has been a volunteer at the Orchid House since 2012, was elated about the expansion.
"The new orchid house is great and its going to be magnificent."
"The range of orchids here is so vast there are about 5500 different varieties.
"I like the Australian natives and are my favourite and sometimes the smaller the orchid, the more intriguing they are.
"Orchids can get down to that small you need a magnifying glass to see them and you get to focus on their beauty, the form of them, the colours and they are so unique."
The Hervey Bay Botanic Garden also houses a Bush Chapel which is a popular wedding venue; and the Chinese Garden - built as part of the Fraser Coast Sister City relationship with the Chinese city of Leshan.