Balboa Park’s hidden Australian Garden.

The nation of Australia presented the City of San Diego with many beautiful plants in 1976 for the United States Bicentennial. These plants can be found in Balboa Park’s seldom visited, little known Australian Garden.

Should you drive into the heart of Balboa Park by turning from Park Boulevard onto Presidents Way, you’ll glimpse the top of the Australian Garden to your right. To see most of the native Australian trees and shrubs, however, you must drive or carefully walk down winding, slightly steep Paseo de Oro, which motorists pass just before they reach the large parking lot behind the Spreckels Organ Pavilion. Look for the Gold Gulch Remote Parking Lot sign. There’s no sidewalk!

You can also reach the Australian Garden by walking south down Gold Gulch Trail, which begins near El Prado at the Zoro Garden. The trail passes under the Space Theater Way bridge near the Fleet Science Center and continues along the east side of the Japanese Friendship Garden. Once you see a fenced area where the green Balboa Park shuttles are stored, you’re there!

Plants in the Australian Garden, according to this page, include: “Grevellia, Acacia, Callistemon, Banksia, Hakea, Stenocarpus, Leptospermum, Melaleuca, and Eucalyptus.” There are no signs in Gold Gulch Canyon at the garden, but apparently there are plans to create trails in this area of Balboa Park and erect an informational kiosk.

In 1935, this small canyon was the home of Gold Gulch, a popular attraction at Balboa Park’s California Pacific International Exposition. According to Wikipedia, Gold Gulch was an “Old West mining town-ghost town re-creation for fairgoers to experience the atmosphere of a mining boomtown… Gold Gulch inspired and influenced subsequent Western theme parks…Examples include the Calico Ghost Town…and the “Ghost Town” section of Knott’s Berry Farm… and Frontierland by Walt Disney.…”

The above photo of the “hidden” Australian Garden was taken from a point above the canyon, behind the WorldBeat Cultural Center and Centro Cultural de la Raza.

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