How did our nursery begin?


It had always been difficult to source indigenous plants to use for revegetation projects in the Borough of Queenscliffe. To address this, a group of SBEA propagators in 1997 negotiated with the Council staff to occupy a small area at the Borough’s waste depot on the edge of Swan Bay. The site was located behind what was the Marine and Fisheries Research Institute (MAFRI) and included the Marine Discovery Centre. It is now the location of the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning.

The nursery was small-time at the start – a few foam boxes, some forestry tubes and hand watering. In late 2002 the nursery had to move. A condition of the site takeover by MAFRI was that the research institute donate money to the Borough of Queenscliffe to cover the cost of re-creating the nursery in a new setting.

With support from the Borough, a new site was chosen and, in negotiation with Barwon Water, the nursery moved to the water agency’s pump station land at 79 Nelson Road.


The Queenscliffe Indigenous Nursery is highly regarded by both scientific/conservation organisations and the general community. Only local provenance (i.e. seeds and growth from the local indigenous vegetation) is used to propagate all the species. Attention is given to maintaining rare and endangered plants – some only known surviving specimens are in the historic properties of Arilpa and Ballara in Point Lonsdale. It is important to preserve these so the last specimens are not lost.

Because of this scholarly approach, the Queenscliffe Indigenous Nursery has the respect of organisations such as Parks Victoria, the Department of Land, Water and Planning, Gordon Tafe, Greening Australia, etc.

Keeping scientific plant records is part of this approach. A template has been made of more than 140 local species in which is recorded descriptions, locations (often with GPS readings), seed collection times and processes, propagating methods and any other useful information.

The Queenscliffe Indigenous Nursery continues to operate from its 79 Nelson Rd site and has become a highly successful business employing a part-time Nursery Manager supported by approximately 30 volunteers. It grows thousands of plants each year for the re-vegetation of the local environment and is also a popular supplier of garden plants.

The driving force behind the nursery’s success has been the work of Jill Warneke. As the nursery’s coordinator between 1997 and 2019, Jill taught volunteers to propagate indigenous plants from local seeds and cuttings, developed and maintained extensive and valuable records of indigenous plant species, and ensured the nursery remained non-commercial and indigenous. Jill retired in 2019. Everyone involved with the nursery will miss her expertise, organisational skills, commitment, and her ability to make each volunteer feel wanted, needed and important. Tribute must also be paid to the work and dedication of Jacquie Smith, who was Jill's assistant at the nursery for many years until 2015.