The original Aboriginal inhabitants of the Wollongong area are the Dharawal (also spelt Tarawal or Thuruwal) people. The Dharawal people lived in the Illawarra and Shoalhaven districts (and extended north along the coastal areas of Sydney to Pittwater, west to Berowra Waters, and out to Parramatta and Liverpool). The traditional language of this tribe was also known as Dharawal and this was spoken from Sydney in the north to as far south as Bega.
The Wodi Wodi, are a sub-group of the Dharawal who occupied the southern part of the Dharawal area with several camp sites around Lake Illawarra including Berkeley and Hooka Creek. Aboriginal people moved freely throughout the region and shared resources with their near neighbours without fear of trespassing.
The sites that are now known as Wollongong Botanic Garden, Mt Keira, Puckey’s Estate and Korrongulla Wetland would have been used by local Aboriginal people for tens of thousands of years, and they remain the Traditional Custodians of this land.
|1825||James Spearing acquired 2000 acres of land, which included the current Botanic Garden site. He named it 'Paulsgrove Estate'|
|1836||John Leahy purchases 'Paulsgrove'|
|1839||After Leahy’s passing, his heirs took brief ownership of the estate|
|1841||Robert and Charles Campbell took over the land as the result of a Crown Grant, and subdivided it into 100 farm and housing lots. The area became known as ‘Mount Keera Estate’.|
|1855||The three blocks of land which would eventually be purchased by the Hoskins family were bought by John Kenny|
|1865||The land was bought by Matthew Hannan|
|1901||James Fitzgerald acquired the land and it became a dairy farm|
|1921||James Fitzgerald built the 'Cratloe' Cottage, now called the Discovery Centre. The land was sold to Mary Ann and Keith Blow, who shortly afterwards sold it again to Harman Turner Johnson.|
|1929||Arthur Sidney Hoskins purchases 75 acres of land|
|1937||Cratloe Cottage was given to Hoskin's Gardener, Eric Winter.|
|1939||Hoskins completed building his family home 'Gleniffer Brae Manor'. The original garden around the Manor was designed and planted by landscape architect Paul Sorensen and sets the scene for the future inspiration of the Botanic Garden.|
|1951||Hoskins donated 46 acres of the estate to Wollongong City Council for the purpose of building a Botanic Garden. A further 36 acres was purchased by the Department of Housing|
|1954||Glennifer Brae and surrounding areas (15.5 acres) was purchased by the Sydney Church of England Girls Grammar School (SCEGGS). A year later they purchased a further 20 acres from Council|
|1963||Professor Peter Spooner from the University of NSW prepared a master plan for the Botanic Garden, and work began to develop it.|
|1964||The first plantings on the Azalea Bank were installed|
|1966||Council purchased 'Cratloe' and the adjoining 2.5 acres. It became the home of the Botanic Garden Curator until 1978.|
|1968||The Botanic Garden was opened to the public during working hours and in that same year, Council obtained a grant to build the Sir Joseph Banks Glasshouse.|
|1971||Wollongong Botanic Garden was officially opened to the public on 2 January. More than 6,000 people visited in the first year|
|1975-1978||Construction of the walled Rose Garden took place|
|1978||Council purchased Gleniffer Brae Manor and the surrounding grounds|
|1980||Wollongong City Council leased the school buildings and some rooms within the manor house to the Wollongong Branch of the NSW Conservatorium of Music, which took up residence on part of the site. Council used the remainder of the house as a function centre until 2009.|
|1980s||The Wet Schlerophyll habitat was created. Swamp Mahogany, Sydney Blue Gums and Port Jackson Figs were planted within this collection.|
The Woodland Garden was created, with a range of exotic species being planted like Maples, Magnolias, Birches and Dogwoods.
The Dryland Collection, the Dry Sclerophyll Forest, the Herb Garden and the Exotic Rainforest were also developed during this decade.
|1983||Puckey’s Estate Nature Reserve at North Wollongong was named an annex of the Botanic Garden.|
|1985||Gleniffer Brae Manor House was listed on the National Trust of Australia Register.|
|1987||The Botanic Garden took over management of Mount Keira Summit Park.|
|1988||Cratloe Cottage, which had previously been used as a caretaker’s residence, was renamed The Discovery Centre, and used for educational activities.|
|1988||The Friends of Wollongong Botanic Garden presented a custom made Equatorial Sundial as a Bicentenary gift to the city. The Sundial was stolen from the Rose Garden in 2012 but was replaced in 2014.|
|1991||The Friends of the Botanic Garden donated the Woodland Garden Gazebo.|
|1993||The iconic Kawasaki Bridge and Japanese Tea House were presented by the City of Kawasaki to mark the fifth anniversary of our Sister City relationship.|
|1999||Gleniffer Brae Manor House was added to the NSW State Heritage Register. It is now protected under the NSW Heritage Act.|
|2001||Wollongong Botanic Garden’s Visitor / Administration Centre was opened|
|2008||The All Abilities Playground was opened to provide a space for children of all development levels.|
|2012||The Towri Bush Tucker Garden and Centre was opened to provide a place to learn about the use of plants in Aboriginal culture. The building features accessible ramps and amenities.|
|2015||The Palm Garden was officially opened to the public on 25 October. This event coincided with Wollongong hosting the Botanic Gardens Australia and New Zealand (BGANZ) conference.|
|2016||The first Sculpture in the Garden exhibition was held to showcase the Wollongong Bicentennial Acquisitive Sculpture Award. Louis Pratt's work King Coal won the award and became a permanent fixture in the Garden.|
|2018||The second Sculpture in the Garden exhibition was held, with Michael Purdy's Steel City winning the award.|
For more information on the history of the suburb surrounding Wollongong Botanic Garden, see the Keiraville history page on Wollongong City Libraries' website.
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