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Begonia Festival launches with new environmentally savvy focus

7 February 2019

Ballarat’s much-loved Begonia Festival returns this year with its most popular family activities and a new focus.

As plastic pollution continues to be one of the world’s biggest environmental concerns, the City of Ballarat is hoping festival visitors will be inspired to change their behaviour towards plastic waste reduction.

The 2019 festival program, which includes the return of crowd favourites like the Super Sandpit, Pot-A-Plant activity, markets and live entertainment, also features a number of exciting new offerings that look set to take your festival experience to new heights. 

One of the this year’s festival highlights includes a five-metre Giant Turtle, presented by the festival’s Community Partner Central Highlands Water (CHW), who invites all festival visitors to join the crusade to reduce single-use plastic bottles.

The giant turtle’s shell will be filled with single-use plastic bottles - A visual representation of the burden felt by the environment due to plastic waste.

CHW is encouraging everyone to come down and place a single-use plastic bottle into the turtle’s shell, making the pledge to reduce plastic bottle waste by using refillable bottles instead.


After the festival, the giant turtle will be transformed into play equipment for public use as a constant reminder of the importance of caring for our environmental future.

Grampians Central West Waste Resource Recovery Group has also jumped onboard with their Litter Super Heroes out in force over the long weekend helping you put your rubbish in the right bin.

Or why not pop over to the Little Green Wagon to hear from GCWWRR about sustainability and waste issues through the ‘Plastic not so Fantastic’ campaign to reduce our reliance on single use plastic.

The concept of reusing waste and shining the light on sustainability is also a focus for the Ballarat Tramway Museum who has this year re-imagined the Floral Tram.

The Ballarat Tramway Museum has taken inspiration from the 1939 Floral Tram, which was originally decorated by hundreds of crepe paper flowers, by creating 21st century flowers using single-use plastic bags and bottles.

This nod to the past has already generated plenty of buzz in the community, with the tram due to be unveiled for the first time later this month.

Each year more than 60,000 people wander the Ballarat Botanical Gardens over the Labour Day long weekend and discover a multitude of fun family activities, enjoyable live entertainment, delicious local food and beautiful floral displays as part of the annual festival.

A huge drawcard is the special celebrity guests, who this year include Paul West of TV series River Cottage Australia and the return of Get Grubby TV’s dirtgirl and popular television personality Costa Georgiadis.

The Begonia Bar is also back by popular demand, this year featuring
local beers from Red Duck Brewery and Cubby Haus Brewing, wines from Wightwick and gin from Kilderkin Distillery.

So to is the Begonia Courtyard with the Forge Pizzeria serving pizza all long weekend.

2019 Begonia Festival highlights:

  • Power FM Begonia Parade (along Wendouree Parade) from 11am, Monday 11 March
  • Begonia Display in the conservatory
  • Hear from our special celebrity guests Paul West (River Cottage Australia), dirtgirl (Get Grubby TV) and Costa Georgiadis (Gardening Australia)
  • Visit the Central Highlands Water Giant turtle and learn what to you can do to reduce plastic waste
  • Live entertainment across four music stages
  • 26 food and coffee outlets including the Forge Pizzeria in the Begonia Courtyard
  • Quench your thirst in the Begonia Bar with local beers from Red Duck Brewery and Cubby Haus Brewing, wines from Wightwick and gin from Kilderkin Distillery
  • Circus Drop Zone – an intergenerational entertainment space where visitors can learn to juggle or ride a unicycling, or alternatively view performances on a six-metre-high trapeze
  • Floral Tram
  • Join the Federation University Arts Academy’s Word of Mouth choir as they perform Ariel’s Songs
  • Obstacle Course with ninja trainers
  • Super Sandpit
  • Pot-A-Plant Activities with BotaniKids
  • Paint with the Society of Artists and Funky Plaster Fun
  • Story Time with the Ballarat Foundation every hour
  • Stems Greenery photo wall
  • Floral Carousel by the Floral Art Group
  • Garden Trail Competition to win a $3,000 travel voucher from Flight Centre
  • Gardener’s and Creative Designer’s Markets
  • Friends of the Botanical Gardens Plant Sales Nursery
  • Fish Hatchery Tours
  • Spinners and Weavers demonstrations
  • Ballarat Woodworkers Guild Exhibition

Ten thousand people are expected to line Wendouree Parade on Monday 11 March from 11am as the 2019 Power FM Begonia Parade makes its way down the road.

Ballarat residents should keep an eye out in their letter boxes for the Autumn edition of myBallarat, which includes a Begonia Festival program.

You can also read more about the Floral Tram on page 15 of the Autumn edition myBallarat.
We interviewed Carolyn Priddle who was one of 120 volunteers who made the plastic flowers featured on the Floral Tram.

The Ballarat Begonia Festival is presented by the City of Ballarat.

For more information about this year’s festival visit ballaratbegoniafestival.com.au

Quotes attributable to Ballarat Mayor Samantha McIntosh:

“I can’t think of a better way to celebrate the 67th Ballarat Begonia Festival than by bringing back one of the festival’s favourites while also focussing on ways we can all become more environmentally savvy.

It truly is a nod to our past and to our future.

This festival always has, and will continue to unite our community and I am extremely proud of the efforts of everyone involved in this year’s festival for putting on what I can happily say is our best program yet.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank our festival partners who contribute so much each year to making this festival bigger and better than the last, and I encourage everyone to join me this March long weekend for a weekend of fun and learning.”

Quotes attributable to Central Highlands Water General Manager of Customer and Community, Jacqueline O’Neill:

Central Highlands Water is once again very proud to feature as the Community Partner of the 2019 Ballarat Begonia Festival.

This has been a very successful partnership with the City of Ballarat and we are delighted to be involved in this award-winning festival.

This year, the CHW site will invite visitors to join our crusade to reduce single-use plastic bottles. To demonstrate the sheer amount of waste single-use plastic bottles create, come and visit our Giant Turtle structure set-up on the main lawn throughout the Ballarat Begonia Festival. Everyone can help save our turtle!

Our popular “Be Smart Choose Tap’ drink bottles will be available at the Festival. Last year was a sell-out with over 3,000 bottles sold raising over $15,000. Central Highlands Water is proud to announce that this year, all proceeds will be going to a local charity “WRISC”- ‘victims of family violence’.”