Five years ago, after having to move out of our third rental in a row, due to it being sold, we began to look for a house to buy, but where to start? Criteria: old house, enough space for a veggie garden, walking distance to shops and schools, friendly neighbours, on a public transport route, under $300K. Yes, it was time to move out of the city. Being a scientist, I immediately consulted the transport, climate and soil maps – then hit the real estate pages. The answer was clear – Kyneton! When the listing “Quirky cottage in prestige position” came up, I knew we had found home. And that was before we saw the 80 year old pear trees and loganberry canes.
At the time, we didn’t know anyone in Kyneton, but we had a good feeling about the house on the street of bluestone churches. Then we took a walk down to the Campaspe River at the end of the street and the deal was sealed. The Kyneton Botanic Gardens, established in 1862, is not atypical of other Gardens in Victoria and at the time, had seen better days. What is exceptional, is the extensive arboretum, which was then home to the Kyneton Caravan Park. And across the river, in all directions, the rolling pastoral landscapes, capped by the train line. We knew this was a special place that we wanted our children to grow up in.
Since that time, the Friends of the Kyneton Botanic Gardens have done a tremendous job in bringing life back into the formal gardens, including more climate-appropriate plantings, restoration of the gardeners shed and entrance gates and lobbying for the closure of the Caravan Park. This caused some controversy in town, but the Macedon Ranges Shire Council, keen to return the site to the broader community, have agreed to make it available for the development of the Kyneton Community Park.
The need for a recreation area in Kyneton where children could play, friends meet and parents relax, was identified back in 2006 in the Strengthening Families project lead by Cobaw Community Health. Since then, a committed group of mostly Kyneton mums, have been petitioning, sausage sizzling and campaigning to get this park built. Finally last year, with agreement on the site and support from the Council, the group commissioned Andrew Laidlaw to develop a concept plan for the Community Park, following on from his masterplan of the Kyneton Botanic Gardens.
The vision of this Park has rung true in all of the years and people involved and has been beautifully articulated by Andrew in his design. Natural materials, open-ended play, engagement with nature, connection to the history of this agricultural town and community gathering are all key elements. This is not merely a playground, but a true Community Park – everybody’s space. And what a beautiful space it will be.
With the community and the council now behind us, we are able to start applying for the big dollars involved in such a project and hopefully begin the build next year. So watch this space! Click through to learn more about the Kyneton Community Park, or follow us on Facebook
On the 20th July, the Kyneton Community Park group are hosting a gala dinner and auction – a Mid-Winter’s Feast, to raise funds and spread awareness of the Park. Andrew Laidlaw will be guest speaker and prestigious items donated by our incredibly talented locals will be up for the bidding. Tickets are $75 or $700 for a table of ten, which includes a sumptuous three course feast of woodland delights. To join us at the Feast, please book here.