The story of Mrs. York's Garden - Labour of love is a legacy being preserved

Updated: Apr 11

Mrs. York’s Garden official opening on a Tuesday afternoon in May, 1968 by the then Mayor, Ald. C. C. Adams, following the garden being blessed by Archdeacon A. E. Warr, was in recognition of Amy Bertha York’s labour of love.

Told five years prior that nothing could be done with the headlands due to the north-east winds, she set about, at great personal effort and expense, to prove the pessimists wrong.

She thought the mass of weeds across the road from her home at the corner of Stewart and Grant Street, was an ugly blight on such a beautiful piece of coastline.

From Allman Hill to Goal Point, Mrs York transformed the area into a beautiful "Floral Reserve", admired by people from all over Australia and creating a major tourist attraction for Port Macquarie.

Photo credit: Port Macquarie News – Thursday 16 May 1968

At the opening ceremony Mrs. York thanked everyone for their praise, and told them she had as much pleasure in establishing the garden as townspeople and visitors had in enjoying its beauty. She said it made her very happy when sick or troubled people gained solace in her garden, or when garden lovers came to see what can grow on the foreshores.

At the time, the land was held by the Department of Lands. Following a request by Mrs.York, with the support of the local Municipal Council, the area was gazetted as a Floral Reserve.

From then on Mrs.York took over the beautification of the Reserve contributing almost all of the finance necessary to establish the lovely garden for the benefit of the community as a whole.

A small grant was secured to establish a fence and kerb and gutter from the Department of Public Works and the Council contributed on a dollar for dollar basis.

In October 1968 the Australian Women's Weekly published a two-page article featuring the garden. Late 1970, due to declining health, the garden came under the care of the then Municipal Council.

Over time the garden fell into disrepair and remained that way until October 2014 when the “Friends of Mrs York's Garden” was formed

The formation of the group was a result of older local citizens commenting on the Facebook site “You're From Port Macquarie If You Remember”. They began restoring the area in February 2015, replanting it with littoral rainforest plants, the endemic plant species for the East Coast of Australia.

The Friends of Mrs.York's Garden is a volunteer, non-profit community group that originally formed under the Port Macquarie Hastings Council “Shaping Our Place program”.

Comprising over 40 active or supportive members, including Glenys Pearson, a granddaughter of Mrs York and experienced Horticulturalist, the group also has members who have valuable experience with Landcare, Business Studies, Engineering and Project Management, Finance, Marketing and Plumbing.

Committed to the long term improvement and maintenance of the area, they are unfunded and have achieved work to date through volunteer labour, donated materials their own fundraising and Local and State Government Grants.

President, Dianne Davison told us, “We have developed a Master Plan with Port Macquarie Hastings Council (PMHC) for future projects. In addition we need to maintain the existing plantings including weed removal and regular mulching.”

The Friends of Mrs.York's Garden are seeking Grant Funding and sponsors to enable the project to continue into the future.

Achievements so far

A lot has been accomplished by the group including site preparation, planting of approximately 6000 endemic littoral rainforest and coastal headland plants and mulching, weed management and watering to the bank below the Grant Street car park, along Stewart Street, the Clarence Street waterfall bank, rainforest gully and the bushland corridor to Town Beach.