March is Women’s History Month, and here at Araluen, there are so many women who were and are still involved, who have had hugely positive impacts on the Park. This year Araluen has decided to profile two of those impactful women.
Mary Hargreaves had long thought that the property would make a wonderful botanic park. However, she was unable to gain any support from the Minister for Lands at the time. After a succession of private owners since the YAL, the property once again came onto the market in 1989 and this time there was a perceived risk of the property being acquired by developers and its heritage being under threat.
Mary invited Noelene Drage to visit the Park, where they discovered many trees and shrubs that had survived and even thrived. Concerned about the fate of the Park, Noelene Drage, a local resident, put down a financial deposit to take the land off the market until the government or public help could be enlisted.
In May 1990, a public meeting was held, attended by 170 people, to discuss the future of the Park. At the meeting, a steering committee was formed to purchase the property with the hope of government involvement in the acquisition. The following month, the Minister for Planning and the Arts, Kay Hallahan, announced that the government would negotiate to buy Araluen and vest the property in a suitable body for the ongoing maintenance and development of the Park.
The Araluen Botanic Park Foundation was formed and worked on the site cooperatively with the government for many years, taking over management of the site in September 1995. The foundation is a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to the restoration, preservation, and development of the Park and remains the management custodians of the Park to this day.
Noelene Drage and Mary Hargreaves’ contributions to the preservation and development of Araluen Botanic Park were essential in ensuring that it remained a public attraction and was not sold to private developers. Today, the Park is enjoyed by visitors from all over the world and continues to be an important part of the cultural and natural heritage of Western Australia, as one of the state’s oldest botanical parks.
- Top: Newsletter clipping stating “Park saved by $1.2m agreement”
- Centre left: Noelene Drage gets support from year 7 Roleystone school students, in the form of fundraising to save the park. Taken 14 June 1990. Credit – The West Australian
- Centre right: Mary Hargreaves pergola, built in her honor with philanthropic funds donated to the Park by Mary Hargreaves after her passing
- Bottom: Mary Hargreaves pergola under construction 2011