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Lee Andrews & Associates Heritage Consulting

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
The Canterbury Park / Lake Neangar precinct is today one of Eaglehawks most visited recreation areas.
Developed from 1870, a mere 8 years after the official establishment of the Eaglehawk Borough in 1862,
its close proximity to the civic and commercial centre of the town, and its speedy development into a
pleasure ground which also catered, as was often the case throughout the 1800s in Victoria, to the
various sporting needs of the people of the township, ensured its long and unparalled importance to the
citizens of Eaglehawk in all facets of community life.
When Eaglehawk Borough Council applied for the reservation of a site in Eaglehawk Gully for public
gardens purposes in 1870, its intention was to develop a place of relaxation and pleasant resort for
Eaglehawks citizens. As the Council minutes show, provision of such an amenity was considered as
fundamental to civic development as securing a water supply, constructing a post and telegraph office and
ensuring a postal delivery service. A public garden was an unquestioned requirement of town-building in
the nineteenth century. The Councils choice of land, opposite the Town Hall and therefore at the civic
heart of the Borough, further illustrates of the importance of such a facility.
Shortly after the initial reservation, and encouraged by the availability of a Government grant for such
purposes, the Council was granted an extension of the reservation for the formation of an ornamental
Lake and reserve, as had also occurred at Ballarat (Lake Wendouree) and Bendigo (Lake Weeroona).
The civic importance of such a reservation was eloquently argued in the Eaglehawk Leader on 22 April
1882:
It is respectfully submitted that this extension of the present gardens will vastly improve
the town in various ways. It will be [ illeg; a pleasing?] source of attraction of the youthful
portion of the community and where young people have ample opportunities for properly
enjoying themselves in the open air they will grow up physically and morally better citizens.
The population from the surrounding localities will be attracted here, and it will form a
pleasant rendezvous for all classes in the Borough. It will be a gathering ground for picnic
and other pleasure parties, and what is now a wretched waste of rubbish heaps and holes
and an eyesore to the whole community will be converted into a thing of beauty and a
healthful place of recreation

Canterbury Park, as the entire reservation was referred to, quickly rose to become the dominant, and in
fact, the only, public park of note in Eaglehawk. The Parks central location, formal, highly decorative
gardens, fine scenic qualities provided by its central lake, and well developed sporting facilities allowed a
wide range of recreational outlets for Eaglehawks citizens and visitors alike. It indeed became symbolic of
Eaglehawk and its history, and played a founding role in civic town-building in the nineteenth century.
This study has found that the Canterbury Park / Lake Neangar precinct is of historic, aesthetic, social and
scientific cultural significance to the people of Eaglehawk, the Bendigo region, and the State of Victoria.
Because of its cultural importance, summarised in the Statement of Cultural Significance (Section 5.5) the
precinct must be protected for existing and future generations. The Canterbury Park / Lake Neangar
precinct has been inextricably linked with the early growth of virtually all of Eaglehawks now well
established major sporting and community groups. Envisaged and constructed from the first as a facility
for the communitys recreational use, the precinct has reached beyond this relatively narrow aim to foster
a range of community based activities unforseen by the precincts original creators. The precincts
continued existence, care and appreciation by Eaglehawk residents is one of the clearest signals to the
outside world that Eaglehawk continues to view itself as a separate and distinctive locality, rather than a
suburb of Bendigo. Canterbury Park / Lake Neangar precinct is central to the Eaglehawk civic psyche, and
is of immeasurable social importance to the region and Victoria.

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Lee Andrews & Associates Heritage Consulting

Over many decades, an increasing number of active recreation facilities have been accommodated in the
precinct. As a result, trees and parkland have been gradually lost as buildings, sporting facilities, age, soil
salinity and drought all took their toll on the once verdant landscape.
During the 1990s the cultural (or heritage) significance of the precinct was recognised, and two plans for
the precinctby Tract Consulting and EDGe Environmental Design were developed. Both plans took the
precincts cultural significance into account and recommended works which, in part, protected or
enhanced this significance, much of which was bound up with the landscape. However, as often happens,
the staged implementation of these plans focussed primarily on construction projects, while important
landscaping works, including planting, languished. As a result, areas of the landscape, especially the
surrounds of Lake Neangar, have become severely degraded. Over time, many mature and historically
important trees have been removed and not replaced, and parkland left barren, dry and grassless.
There is no doubt that use of the Canterbury Park / Lake Neangar precinct for activities associated with
active recreation is consistent with the sites cultural significance and early reservation. However the
incremental incursion of sporting facilities which require major built infrastructure threatens those less
tangible qualities for which the precinct is valued by the public. The qualities of open parkland
complemented by a Victorian-era formal garden, and the once-seamless unity of these spaces, have been
recently threatened by yet another active recreation facility in the form of the McKern Skate Park. No
matter how necessary or laudable the provision of such a facility, the loss of parkland for those
undertaking passive recreation in the precinct is cause for concern. Decisive action must be taken by
Council to prevent further loss of open space and redress the balance of hard / soft landscaping and
passive / active recreation. If not, the cultural significance of the precinct will be greatly diminished.
The City of Greater Bendigo is committed to retaining the Canterbury Park / Lake Neangar precinct as a
fine recreational reserve and public garden. This Conservation Management Plan has identified a number
of measures designed to protect those qualities which make the precinct so special, while still allowing
passive and active recreational activities for which the precinct was originally reserved.
Closely informed by a deeper understanding of the historic, aesthetic, social and scientific values of the
Canterbury Park / Lake Neangar precinct, the Conservation Management Plan has identified the following
actions needed to protect those values and secure the future of the precinct in a way which balances its
dual roles of active and passive recreation.
Priority 1: Actions to protect existing culturally significant elements of the Canterbury Park / Lake
Neangar precinct
The most urgent actions involve preservation and arresting the decay of existing elements of the precinct
which have been identified in this report as culturally significant. These actions are:

Secure a long term, reliable water supply for the Lake and for irrigation;
Undertake tree pruning and associated works as identified in the 2008 Tree Surveys for
Canterbury Park Gardens, Lake Neangar and Canterbury Park Oval;
Secure Canterbury Park Gardens using high fencing and gates to control access and reduce
vandalism;
Replant lawn areas based on photographic evidence, especially on the north, west and south
sides of the Lake and behind the amphitheatre (see various photographs in Appendix Two);
Implement any recommendation of the Bendigo Urban Lakes Water Quality Management Plan
(2004) not already in place;
Develop and implement a comprehensive plant management programme which includes
 a Tree Replacement and Propagation Programme
 a Weed Assessment and Management Programme
 a Water Management Plan

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Lee Andrews & Associates Heritage Consulting





a long term garden development plan


an annual maintenance schedule
initiation of computer-based record-keeping and inventory data

Priority 2: Actions to enhance and extend the Canterbury Park / Lake Neangar precincts cultural
significance
These are actions which are needed to care for those culturally significant elements in the precinct which
are not under immediate threat but need attention as soon as possible. These actions are:

Improve and formalise entrance to Gardens from car park area near Bowling Club;
Improve and formalise entrance to Gardens from Napier Street;
Retain at least one lawn tennis court and keep mown;
Provide immediate shade for amphitheatre area and plant salt tolerant exotic and native shade
trees for long-term shading of area;
Repair or remodel the cascade and pools along the southern boundary of Lake Neangar and
revegetate the area using predominantly indigenous species.

Priority 3: Actions to enhance and extend the Canterbury Park / Lake Neangar precincts cultural
significance
These actions identify important landscape elements which have been lost or altered and which, because
of their cultural significance, should be reconstructed where possible.
The following are suggested works within Canterbury Park Gardens:

Increase tree planting using themes known to have existed in the past, especially conifers and
palms;
Reconstruct lost circular garden beds and paths in eastern section of Gardens to the 1907 plan
(see Plan 6 in Appendix Three);
Reconstruct path layout to early design where known an appropriate (see Plan 6 in Appendix
Three);
Relocate the replica rotunda from the Dr Catford Park to the Gardens;
Re-construct fernery in original location south of the High Street main entry path and relocate
original Kirkwood fountain at its centre, based on early photographic and documentary evidence
(see Figure 9 in Appendix Two).

The following are suggested works within Lake Neangar and surrounds:

Undertake major tree planting along and within perimeter boundary of Lake, reinforcing existing
exotic and native species and other species known to have been lost;
Plant exotic and native species exhibiting similar weeping form to the now lost weeping willows,
to stabilise banks and improve visual appeal;
Replace vandalised Eaglehawk Rowing Club memorial plaque and improve surrounding
landscaping.

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Lee Andrews & Associates Heritage Consulting

Priority 4: Actions to enhance and extend the Canterbury Park / Lake Neangar precincts cultural
significance
These are recommended actions which improve visitor experience of the precinct, but which are either of
a lower priority or depend on the removal of existing elements before they can be considered. They are to

Replace Kirkwood fountain (after relocation to reconstructed fernery) with new central feature
such as fountain, water feature, of specimen tree;
Improve water quality, biodiversity and the overall aesthetics of this area by transforming the 1983
island into a tidal wetland.

An understanding of the four distinct zones (Canterbury Park Gardens, Lake Neangar and surrounds,
Sporting Zone and Recreation Zone) within the one original reservation is hampered by the division of the
precinct into a number of once related, but now disjointed, areas. As the site currently presents as a
confusing combination of areas, the following actions are recommended to improve the interface between
these zones:

Create visual buffers to screen and soften buildings, direct foot traffic and reinforce the parkland
experience;
Restore the historic parkland link between the Lake and the formal gardens by removing, reducing
or remodelling the internal (Bowling Club) carpark, removing the concrete tennis court, and
undertaking major tree planting and landscaping;
Increase tree planting along and within perimeter boundary fencing, reinforcing existing exotic
and native species;
Remove small carpark outside Leisure Centre and return to parkland.

It is also highly recommended that Council review the existing landscape and sports precinct master plans
for the precinct (Tract Consulting, EDGe Environmental Design, and the Henshall Canterbury Park Sports
Precinct Master Plan) in light of the recommendations in this Conservation Management Plan and make
adjustments as indicated above.

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