New sign reveals rich history of E G Waterhouse National Camellia Gardens,

The new sign near the Tait Gates at the bottom entry to the gardens. Picture: John Veage
The new sign near the Tait Gates at the bottom entry to the gardens. Picture: John Veage

A new sign standing almost three metres high is catching the attention of visitors to the Camellia Gardens at Caringbah.

The double sided sign, located near the Tait Gates at the rear entry in Matson Crescent, tells the rich history of the internationally acclaimed gardens.

Little Eva is more interested in the ducks than the new sign. Picture: John Veage

Little Eva is more interested in the ducks than the new sign. Picture: John Veage

Members of the Utick Family attended the unveiling in October of the sign, which was erected by Sutherland Shire Council.

The late Mr Erick Utick BEM was the founding director of the E G  Waterhouse National Camellia Gardens, and his son Dr Stephen Utick is the current secretary of Camellias Australia and a director at the International Camellia Society.

The history of the gardens stretch back to their original form as the Matson Pleasure Grounds in 1902.

In those early days, the gardens were a picnic and boating attraction and were even used to host the Crown Prince of Japan and officers of the visiting Japanese fleet in 1905.

The E G Waterhouse National Camellia Gardens were established in 1970 during celebrations of the 200th anniversary of Lieutenant James Cook sailing into what would be called Botany Bay.

They contain one of the largest collections of camellias in Australia – more than 600 trees, with over 450 individual species and varieties.

A register of all the varieties is available to the community at Sutherland Library.

Mayor Carmelo Pesce said the site not only embodied a huge amount of the shire’s history, but was also a garden of international acclaim.

In 2014 the Camellia Gardens received the International Camellia Garden of Excellence Award from the International Camellia Society.

Criteria for the award include a well established garden, open and free to the community with a collection of more than 200 types of Camellias.

The council thanked organisations, past and present, for their invaluable contribution to the gardens: 

  • St George and Sutherland Camellia Society
  • Caringbah Garden Club
  • Sutherland Orchid Club
  • Camellias Illawarra
  • Engadine Home Gardeners Club
  • Caringbah Rotary
  • RSL and Apex Clubs
  • Shire Women’s Organisation headed by the late Deputy Mayor, Councillor Jean Manuel