Cook Park is 4.5 hectares of parkland in the heart of Orange. Built alongside Summer Street, the park embodies the seasonal colours of Orange. Cook Park was laid out in a traditional Victorian design with straight paths and rows of trees, and much of the original design is still in place.
During your visit to Cook Park don’t miss the Park Guildry. The work of local craftspeople can be found in ‘Bastick Cottage’, a Victorian style, heritage building. This crafts group offers a wide range of unique handcrafted goods including pottery, knitting, woodwork, homemade jams and freshly baked goods.
Originally a public reserve in the 1840s, in 1873 the site of Cook Park was proclaimed as a park and in 1882 was officially named in honour of Captain James Cook. From the 1870s onwards the first trees were planted resulting in today’s mature specimens. Andrew Patterson was the first curator employed in 1887.
The 4.5 hectare park was laid out as a Victorian style public park with the ‘union jack’ clearly seen in the path layout.
Visitors to Cook Park can discover a colourful display of Tuberous Begonias in the Blowes Conservatory from February to April each year.
C W Curran, a local storekeeper is believed to have been the first person to introduce begonias to Orange. Alf Blowes, who was Mayor at the time, showed interest in these plants and was instrumental in the building of a conservatory on the western side of the park in 1934. The central roof ‘lantern’ of the building has the words ‘Blowes Conservatory’ in leadlight across its side.
The first begonias were donated by the City of Ballarat from the Ballarat Gardens and have been supplemented by the purchase of additional varieties.
Caring for begonias
While begonias make for a colourful display in Autumn, the plants also need extra care and maintenance during the Winter months. This clip shows some of the behind the scenes work by staff in Cook Park during cooler times of the year.
ORIGINS OF TUBEROUS BEGONIAS
Begonias are endemic to rainforests in South America where they are now considered endangered in the wild. The name ‘begonia’ was given to this genus to honour Michel Begon (1638-1710), an amateur French botanist who collected begonias from Santo Domingo while stationed there with the French Navy. Tuberous begonias were discovered later by an Englishman, Richard Pearce in 1864.
Plan your visit
Cook Park is open every day of the year.
Facilities within the reserve include
- public amenities
- picnic tables
- children’s play equipment
- park guildry
- Wheel chair access
- Accessible toilet