The Toowoomba Regional Council, in conjunction with the incorporated Friends of the Quarry Gardens, is currently conducting a $250,000 Queensland Government-funded feasibility study to decide the best future development of the Bridge Street Quarry. The idle site was used for more than 100 years and is owned by the council.
The local ‘Quarry Gardens’ concept was first proposed in 2001 but did not progress due to the severe drought and water restrictions placed on the city of Toowoomba.
Whangarei Quarry Gardens founder Laughton King and its general manager David McDermott were part of an international delegation that descended on Toowoomba in late May at the invitation of Toowoomba Regional Council.
“It's an affirmation for all of the people, all the ideas and all of the energy that has gone into the Whangarei Quarry Gardens, that it is now being sought as a template for other projects elsewhere in the world. It affirms our position on the world map,” King told the Stuff website.
Following expert advice at the workshop, a high level Toowoomba Regional Council delegation was scheduled to visit the Whangarei Quarry Garden on a fact-finding mission on 13 June.
Mayor Paul Antonio and Toowoomba Council CEO Brian Pidgeon were due to head for New Zealand on a trade mission that would also discuss the potential tourism benefits for Toowoomba.
They would meet with key representatives to discuss the development and operations of the Whangarei Quarry Gardens as part of a fact-finding mission to transform the 17ha Toowoomba site, which has been unused since 1993, into a similar quarry garden.
Whangarei mayor Sheryl Mai and Whangarei District Council chief executive were set to join the discussions.
The Bridge Street site has many similarities to its Kiwi counterpart.Twenty-five hectares of former quarry site was donated
to the Whangarei District Council in 1974 to become part of the city’s parks and reserves network. The land lay uncultivated for 20 years, overgrown with weeds and rubbish.
King first approached the Whangarei District Council to negotiate the formation of a public garden on the site in 1990.
In 1997, the Whangarei council purchased 2.5 hectares of adjoining land to form a link to the top north-west border and a group of enthusiasts – Friends of the Quarry Garden – began clearing the overgrown site.
A Charitable Trust was formed in 1998 and the Whangarei Quarry Gardens project has since continued to grow.
Another model ‘quarry garden’ template that the Toowoomba Regional Council is likely to examine is the world renowned Butchart Gardens in Canada. The Butchart Gardens were born out of an exhausted limestone quarry on Vancouver Island that ceased production in 1909.