Saving the Fletcher's Gardens

From 2007-2014, the state heritage listed Fletcher Jones Pleasant Hill site in Warrnambool deteriorated almost beyond repair.

During those dark years, a small band of volunteers kept the famous gardens alive.  Lex Caldwell led the volunteer effort.  He had maintained the gardens for owner, Ian Ballis of Mill Markets and when that business went into receivership in 2012, the site was left in limbo.  Lex however continued working to maintain the gardens. 

Lex is head gardener at the Fletcher Jones Gardens under new owner Dean Montgomery.  Dean aims to fully restore the gardens to their former glory and it has been wonderful to see the change already.  Many people comment now on how great the gardens look again.   

Fletcher Jones hosted legendary Christmas parties for staff and their families in the gardens each year.  When people began to share stories of these parties, the Save the Silver Ball and Fletcher’s Gardens campaign team had an idea that it would be great to do something similar and hold a community picnic in the gardens.   In Spring 2014, just three months after Dean Montgomery bought the site an afternoon F Project artists market (with an invitation to bring a picnic) attracted well over1500 people!  That same year in December, F Project organised a Christmas picnic with a great festival atmosphere that attracted a huge and happy crowd.  

It seems the Christmas picnics might become a new tradition! An even bigger and brighter picnic was held in 2015.  Eighteen grandchildren and great grandchildren of Sir Fletcher came along to the 2015 December picnic and couldn’t stop smiling!  At this picnic, a 5x1.5M story panel was unveiled by several of the great grandchildren of Sir Fletcher Jones.  Designed by Mark Rasheigh, the panel features images of the installation and history of the water tower (otherwise known as the Silver Ball) and the unique development of the Fletcher’s gardens as a haven for staff, tourists and locals.  On permanent and public display, the panel provides a link to the unique development of the site and the Silver Ball and gardens in particular.


Lex Caldwell tending the FJ Gardens in 2013.  Photo:Warrnambool Standard

Become a Part of the Fletcher Jones Story.

If you would like to share images, stories or anecdotes about Fletcher Jones, the man or the business, please contact the Project Coordinator, Julie Eagles, through this website or contact via the Save the Silver Ball and Fletcher’s Gardens Facebook Page.  

We'd also love your feedback about our website and your favourite stories.  You can also let us know if you think we've got anything wrong, misspelt or left out.