Ed French, Henry Kross, Brian Herron
Ed French, Henry Kross, Brian Herron

Caring groups restore park to former glory

GYMPIE'S historic Calton Hill Park Heritage Zig Zag Garden, one of only two in Australia, was officially opened on Saturday, about 80 years after it was first built.

The park is famous for its zig zag pathway, originally built for easier public access on the steep hill from Calton Terrace to Young Street, and it is one of only two in the country that features curved sandstone terrace walls and the path feature.

The park has been restored at a cost of about $100,000 - the money primarily raised through government grants and the efforts of interested Gympie community groups.

Originally built as a project for out of work miners in late 1920s, the park and gardens serve as a memorial for those miners who lost their lives working on the Gympie goldfield. A memorial bearing their names at the top entrance to the park was dedicated to these men last year as part of the rebuilding project.

On Saturday, the now refurbished park was opened as part of the Queensland 150th celebrations with a number of speakers giving the history of the project and acknowledging those who have played a big part in the park's new life.

The park had lain in a state of disrepair for a number of years.

The last time it was given a new lease on life was in the early 1970s when the late Tom Madill, at that time a Gympie City Council alderman, oversaw the rebuild of the park including a water feature.

However, over subsequent years, the park was again ignored by authorities until nearby resident Adeline Walker came up with the concept of having the park returned to the city in its full splendour.

Saturday's reopening was chaired by Gympie Branch of the National Trust chairman, Bob Fredman, who introduced the speakers and spoke of the garden project.

Mr Fredman said the park was rebuilt thanks to the efforts of the Gympie National Trust, Olds Engineering Maryborough, Australian Heritage Garden Society Queensland, Gympie Municipal Horticultural Society, Gympie Bromeliad Group, Madill family, Cooloola Heritage and Tourism Incorporated (Chati), the Federal and State governments, Gympie Regional Council, Q150 committee, Glen Gloster landscape architect and Garden Gnome.

Chati president Sue Spork gave an outline of the history of the park and the work that had gone with special thanks to council's parks supervisor Ed French and his staff.

Judith Heatley on behalf of the Friends of the Library presented Gympie Mayor Ron Dyne with the documentation relating to the history of the names on the miners' memorial.

Chris Arkins spoke on behalf of the bromeliad group and made special mention of world-renowned Gympie bromeliad cultivator Margaret Patterson who provided some of the plants including some hybrids she has developed and named after Gympie and its surrounds.

Mayor Ron Dyne had the duty of unveiling the plaque that will be attached to stone work at the front of the park. Another plaque acknowledging the work of Tom Madill will be attached to a large rock near the top of the park through which the water flowed as part of the former park's feature.

Gympie Times

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