Gondwana Garden

A world of discovery awaits

Gondwana Garden will take you on a journey from the beginning of Gondwanaland to its separation into diverse continents and islands. The new Gondwana Garden will be a wonder-filled experience of the landscape and environment inhabited by the Victoria’s polar dinosaurs, 125 million years ago.

During the time of Gondwana there was an extraordinary evolution of plants and animals. The islands and subcontinents shifted north and climates changed. The forests evolved, the dinosaurs came into being, and the heaving crashing of the tectonic plates formed mountain ranges and gulleys, lakes and rivers. The climate and environmental conditions allowed life to flourish in the great southern land of Gondwana. Combining extensive science and botanical knowledge with creative experiences, including state-of-the-art audio-visual technology, visitors will be immersed in the story of how life evolved from the beginning of time.

Past polar insights

The polar dinosaur’ environment of 125 million years ago would have been very different to today. Australia was located much further south, closer to the Southern Pole, and the climate resembled today’s cool temperate areas of Tasmania.

Whilst the world has changed dramatically, some things remain the same. The coal mined from Wonthaggi was once polar dinosaur habitat, and the polar dinosaurs lived under the same Southern Lights that are still be seen along the Bass Coast. Scientists believe there was something special about this polar environment that enabled some dinosaurs to continue to thrive, long after they had become extinct elsewhere in the world. Understanding the environment helps scientists understand the dinosaurs themselves. Understanding the environment helps scientists understand the dinosaurs themselves. Gondwana Garden will explore this science through immersive, sensory experiences.


"The Bass Coast region is rich in a biodiversity that has existed since a time before the dinosaurs. Our design is a showcase of the landscapes of the polar dinosaurs. It connects a pre-historic past and our post-historic future, a garden to experience science, time, botany and technology at any pace you like."

Ben Wilson

CJ Arms


Primordial Swamp

As you head along the central pathway, you will see the swamp to your left , and the lake to your right. These represent the era when life on earth began; the ‘primordial soup’ from which all terrestrial plant life emerged.

From the very beginning of life, to the age of dinosaur extinction  65 million years ago, this immersive garden will take visitors on a journey through time. Filled with ancient trees and plant life, visitors will brush up against plants like those that dinosaurs once ate. Dino-tucker; just imagine!


Moss & Fern Garden

Here we encounter mosses, lichens, fungi, and slime moulds; plants that evolved long before trees and flowering plants.

This stunning garden will  immerse visitors in a strange and wonderful place. Cool and damp, you will find the most primitive of plants that have evolved over many hundreds of millions of years, and are still thriving today.


Ginko & Cycad Garden

Next, the Gingko & Cycad garden showcases the Jurassic period, when trees evolved.

The garden’s Gingko leaf fossil design, will invite visitors to explore. If you bring your technology, you will be able to hear the growls and snuffles of the Jurassic dinosaurs. As you explore you will discover that trees are same trees dinosaurs would have eaten. They are not distant cousins, but the same trees. Wow!


Wollemi Conifer Garden

This garden of ‘giants’ is home to the Wollemi Pine, thought to be long extinct, this tree was rediscovered in 1994. It is now being conserved in gardens all around the world.

Plants such as the Gingko, Wollemi, Metasequoia, and Monkey Puzzle trees date back to the Gondwana. Today, they are threatened with extinction and require horticultural cultivation to secure their survival. These coniferous trees are slow-growing and long lived, so your children and grandchildren will be able to visit in the future and stand alongside the same trees that you will see in this garden.


The Nectar Garden

As you venture into this dramatic garden, you will delve into the evolution of flowering plants; a journey that began over 290 million years ago.

The Nectar garden celebrates the early flowering plants. The emergence of the first flowering species heralded a new era of plants that would go on to dominate the planet. Their origins began on the Gondwana. As continental drift progressed, and climatic variation ensued, unique floral forms evolved. Today, the flowering plant families from Gondwana are found throughout Australia, New Zealand, India, Sri Lanka, Arabia, Southern Africa, Madagascar, and South America.


The Crater

This crater-shaped gathering place is inspired by the Cretaceous Extinction Event – a giant meteor crashed to earth which contributed to the end of the dinosaurs, 65.5 million years ago.

In and around the crater space you can sit and picnic in the sun, lie back and relax on the slopes, or kick a ball with your friends. The Crater is also a place for stargazing, special events, and will host special projection shows at night. From the rim of the crater, you will be able to look back to the other end of the Gondwana Garden where your journey first began.


.05 Garden

The Cretaceous mass extinction event is the most recent of five mass extinctions which have seen 99.95% of species that have ever inhabited this planet become extinct. Today we live amongst the 0.05% of plant species that have survived.

As you meander this garden, you will gain a new appreciation for these .05 survivors –  including rare, vulnerable and endangered species. You will gain a deeper appreciation of the incredible story of the Gondwana Garden, and how these remarkable plants have evolved for hundreds of millions of years. This garden also serves as a stark reminder of our responsibility to care for and nurture our fragile environment. We must reverse alter our current environmental trajectory, or we might end up back in the primordial soup.


Digital Field Guide

Gondwana Garden Digital Layer

Digital layers help visitors identify plants with scientific and Traditional names, explore the gardens through audio tours, and illuminate the gardens at night with sound and light shows, complete with simulated Southern Lights which can still be seen today along the Bass Coast.

Feature Dinosaur


Unique to Gondwana, the Noasaurid was a carnivorous dinosaur that lived amongst the vegetation that is now coal found in Wonthaggi.

The Victorian Noasaurid is the first evidence of Abelisauridae family of dinosaurs to be found in Australia. Although these dinosaurs includes big species like Carnotaurus, a bit like T-rex, Noasaurids were much smaller, had elongated forelimbs and were built for speed.

Ceratosaur - Therapod dinosaur - Carnivore

Economic Impact


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Stage 1

Concept design to develop the garden masterplan further.

Design development refining the plan with more detail and sections. The buildability of the project is tested in detail.

Stage 2

Planning application and approval to ensure the design aligns with all statutory requirements and processes.

Detailed design for tender trade by trade base and procurement following typical Council process.

Stage 3


Grand Opening!