Garden of Fire and Water


The Avoca township was awarded a 'Small Town Transformation Grant', from Regional Arts Victoria, to develop a contemporary Chinese garden commemorating and celebrating the Chinese presence in the town during the gold rush era. The garden design was also driven by sustainable principles and goals.

Part of the design team with lead artist, Lindy Lee, and artistic director Lyndal Jones, Mel's role was to translate the concept of the I Ching number 64, (transformation, inclusivity and process) into an actual garden, as well as project manage and deliver the garden.

The garden consists predominantly of Australian and indigenous plants, with a selection of symbolic Chinese additions to the palate.

Charred iron bark logs, used for the pavilion structure, reflect the relationship of Australia's landscape to the cycle of fire, and feature metal screens by Lindy Lee. A bronze metal 'nuggie' sculpture hidden amongst the boulders makes reference to the gold found in these parts.

Storm water from the main street is re-directed into the garden's wetland and storage facility with the support of Pyrenees Shire. The water is cleaned by the aquatic plants and reeds before flowing into the adjacent Avoca River. The wetland is already playing host to a growing number of insects and animals and there is a solar run pump to circulate the stored water for the stone water feature.

This contemplative private garden is open to the public and maintained by a committee of dedicated local residents and users. It provides a meeting place, a passage from the river to the main street, a park and place of rest.