Old sheep yards have been transformed into a contemporary Chinese garden through a project initiated by RMIT's Professor Lyndal Jones.
The project addresses the lack of public gardens in Avoca, in western Victoria, and acknowledges the important Chinese contribution to the town from the 1850's, when many thousands settled in the area after the gold rush.
Local residents won a $350,000 grant from Regional Arts Victoria's Small Town Transformations in 2013 to create the garden in former sheep yards.
Professor Jones, Professor of Contemporary Art in RMIT's Media and Communication, is the artistic director of the project.
She is implementing the grant via her art initiative, The Avoca Project, centred in Watford House, Avoca.
Dr Jones said The Garden of Fire and Water, which overlooks the flood plain and Avoca River, references those elements in an acknowledgement of their central importance to Avoca as well as to Chinese philosophy.
"The garden focuses on the increasingly harsh climate of Avoca and principles important to environmental sustainability," she said.
"The central water element has been created as a wetland that cleans and uses the stormwater from the main street
The garden acknowledges the important Chinese contribution to the town.
"Plants were selected that directly reference China and thrive in this climate, framed within indigenous and native plantings to situate the garden firmly into this landscape of River Red Gums."
Materials have been sourced locally for the garden and almost all of the construction has been undertaken by local tradespeople.
The lead artist for the garden was Chinese-Australian artist Lindy Lee, the designer and project manager was landscape artist Mel Ogden from Taiwan and gardener, Martin Wynne was the soil expert.
Partners in the project included land owners Harvey and Carol Wilkins, the Bendigo Chinese Museum, the Pyrenees Shire, Avoca Primary School and Avoca Business and Tourism Committee.
The garden was recently launched in conjunction with two associated exhibitions.
Russell Jack (AM) from the Golden Dragon Museum in Bendigo and Elizabeth Anne Macgregor OBE from the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, officially opened the garden, while Professor Martyn Hook, Dean of the School of Media and Communication, opened the exhibitions.
The first exhibition was curated by Professor Lyndal Jones at Watford House, while the second - in Avoca's main street - was curated by Pauline Anastasiou, Program Manager of the RMIT Photography program.