In Beechworth, we have a park known as Queen Victoria Park. As some of the streets round about have Crimean war names I always sort of just assumed that it was laid out in the 1850’s just as Beechworth was turning from a mining camp to somewhere altogether more respectable.
Not a bit of it, the park and its ornamental ex navy cannons date from 1901, and was established on the site of what had been the Botanical Gardens, which date from 1861. It was renamed Queen Victoria park in memory of Queen Victoria, who of course died in 1901.
The original botanical gardens had been laid out according to a design by a Hungarian gentleman J A Rochlitz.
Rochlitz is quite an interesting individual – as well as the botanic gardens, and later obtaining plant material for them, Rochlitz was one of the first to plant vines in Beechworth, in Havelock road in 1856, and also worked in a daguerrotype studio in Ford street in the 1850’s.
This is quite interesting – firstly it suggests that Rochlitz was a man of some education in the sciences, which is not terribly surprising as any gold mining town would have attracted people with scientific knowledge to work in assay offices. What’s more interesting is the suggestion that by the late 1850’s the town was changing, with winemaking, and possibly other agricultural activities beginning to compete with gold mining.
Equally, it tells us that there was money about and that people were prepared to pay to have their photographs taken either as mementos or to send to relatives to show they were doing well …