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Article

Halls Gap celebrates its 80th wildflower show

Sep 19, 2018
 
Grampians WildflowersGrampians wildflower

 

 
Grampians news clipThe very first show
 
Grampians Wildflowers Bush FoodsBush foods display
In its heyday up to 15,000 people converged on Halls Gap by the busload for the annual Grampians Wildflower Show, which this year will celebrate its 80th show.

The Community Association of Halls Gap with the support of Wimmera Catchment Management Authority will host the event on September 29 and 30. The show will coincide with the AFL grand final holiday weekend is a pre-cursor to the popular Pomonal Native Flower Show the following weekend.

Once described as the ‘Garden of Victoria’ by the first Victorian Government botanist Ferdinand von Mueller, the Grampians Gariwerd National Park is home to more than one third of the state’s flora. It has the highest number of wildflower species endemic to the region compared to anywhere else in Australia and has about 20 species that can’t be found elsewhere.History

The first Grampians Mountains Wildflower Show was on September 29 and 30, 1933 in Halls Gap Hall. Four years later there was a second show and it has been an annual event until now apart from a very occasional absence.

When the show started Halls Gap was spelt with an apostrophe ‘s’ and the Grampians Gariwerd was not a national park. There were no restrictions on picking wildflowers, although organisers stipulated that competition wildflowers be collected from private property only.

As well as the display of wildflowers from the bush, earlier shows included colouring competitions and a Major Mitchell Memorial Shield for district school pupils. In 1937 the show offered a championship trophy price of two pounds and two shillings for the most successful exhibitor.

A 10-day event
Margo Sietsma, who attended one of her first shows at the 50th anniversary, says the event used to run over 10 days and was the largest of its kind in Australia.

“In those early days a lot less women were working so they had a bigger pool of volunteers from the wives of the local timber workers. It started off as a flower show, with garden flowers as well, but they then decided to concentrate on native flowers,” Margo says.

A report in the Horsham Times on Tuesday October 4, 1949 reads: “So successful was the wild flower exhibition at Hall’s Gap last weekend, the committee has been requested to continue the display. The President of the Hall’s Gap Progress and Tourist Association (Mr. J. R. D’Alton) has stated that the exhibition will continue until Sunday, October 8. Wild flowers of Victoria, together with Western Australian species flown here specially for the occasion, make an outstanding show.”

Fast forward to 1979 and visitors drove from South Australia, New South Wales and Victoria and came by charter buses from Ballarat, Ararat, Hamilton, Horsham and Bendigo. Newspapers report that ‘a special train carrying 350 was run from Melbourne to Stawell, from where passengers were transported 18 miles by bus. As well, charter buses ran almost daily from Stawell. Hall’s Gap accommodation for 150 at five guesthouses and the one hotel was booked out for the whole of the ten days with a constant traffic of occupants. In addition, all the many holiday cottages were taken for the period.

This year's show

Margo says it’s fascinating to go through the history and Halls Gap Historical Society has put together a historical display for the 80th show. Visitors can also go on guided and tag-along tours to see wildflowers and native orchids in their natural setting, as well as guided walks in Halls Gap’s Grampians Flora Botanic Garden.

Halls Gap Hub is the central show venue and will open from 9.30am-5.30pm Saturday and 9.30am-3.30pm Sunday. Self-guided tour maps will be available and all tours will start from the hub.

“Although the show is much smaller these days, there are still an amazing number of exquisite flowers exhibited, each with its botanic and common name, other information and their different habitats. The number of species depends on the seasonal conditions but last year we had 103 species on show and 62 the year before,” she says.

Visitors can also learn about and taste native bush foods, view a Stawell Camera Club wildflower photography exhibition and several other display. Artist-in-residence is Lynne Stone, who is renowned for her three-dimensional textile art which is exhibited nationwide.

For further information visit www.grampianswildflowershow.org.au

  • Wimmera CMA is proud to support the Grampians Wildflower Show through funding from the Victorian Government’s Victorian Landcare Program.