The Malta Garden
The Malta Garden is the first of five themed gardens and precincts within the Mackay Regional Botanic Gardens that pay homage to the cultural heritage of Mackay. Immigrants from the islands of Malta in the Mediterranean came to Australia in their thousands after Australian Federation in 1901, to seek a better life. Many settled in the then small city of Mackay primarily to work in the sugar industry, harvesting sugar cane by hand. Today, Mackay boasts the largest population of Maltese immigrants and descendants in an Australian regional centre.
The garden features several iconic and interpretative themes to represent Malta. A stylized aqueduct or viaduct - a system of bridges and channels primarily used to transport water, is represented here in stone and metal and is based on several impressive solid stone structures that can still be seen today in Malta built in both Roman and recent history. A sand bocci court represents a vanishing style of the popular ball game that was traditionally played on sand, which many people around the world today play on grass.
Malta has experienced thousands of years of trade and invasion and flora from around the world has been brought to and flourished in the sunny, dry climate. This garden features plants that originate in arid and semi-arid climes, or are drought tolerant, that will grow in Mackay’s wetter climate.
Some of these plants include:
- Carob Tree – Ceratonia silaqua – used today as a coffee or chocolate substitute, this tree from northern Africa and the Mediterranean also has special significance in biblical and modern day agricultural uses in Malta.
- Ruby Saltbush - Enchylaena tomentosa var. tomentosa – the orange fruited form of this Australian native succulent has silver leaves and is taller than coastal varieties. Ruby Saltbush often grows in harsh locations such as intertidal zones and mangrove fringes as well as inland salt lakes and marshes. Like many plants important to the peoples of Malta – the small fruit is edible.
- Desert Rose - Adenium obesum - a perennial succulent from Arabia’s semi-arid regions and tropical Africa that has a distinctive fleshy, bottle-shaped trunk and beautiful flowers. Desert Rose is related to Frangipani and Oleander and makes an excellent pot plant.
- Bismarck Palm – Bismarckia noblis – a striking palm from Madagascar with large silver-grey fan shaped leaves. This palm suits dryer, exposed conditions in warm climates.