MOVES are afoot to bring Warrnambool’s unique Japanese friendship garden out of the shadows and into the tourism spotlight.
Despite its official recognition as part of the long sister city link with Miura, there is minimal promotion and no mention on the official city map or electronic tourism links and barely any signposts.
It sits in the south-east corner of Albert Park, almost unknown except for a few dedicated locals and city council staff tasked with general maintenance.
However, there could soon be a fresh wave of interest if advice from an international relations advisory committee to the city council is heeded.
The group has called for new signage, a track from Grafton Road to the main entrance and recognition on maps and tourism websites.
Foundation member of the Miura link David McKenzie said most visitors to the city and even locals would not know the gardens existed.
“This is a special part of Warrnambool,” he said.
“It is built with Australian native plants in a Japanese design. There’s a great synthesis.
“Other Japanese gardens are at Cowra and Melbourne Zoo, but ours is unique.”
He said a set of guidelines and protocol was being finalised for volunteers keen to help maintain the gardens.
The 20th anniversary of the official declaration of a formal sister city link was celebrated in 2012 when Miura mayor Hideo Yoshida visited Warrnambool.
A plaque acknowledging the link will be repositioned soon along with the foundation stone.
The garden occupies about two hectares, featuring indigenous Australian plants, rocks and gravel and a shelter pavilion, made from local cypress pine topped with red cedar shingles.
The garden gates are open weekdays and most weekends.