NEW VENTURE: Garden of Hope Mildura director, Debbie Fitzgerald, LEFT, will officially launch her free tourism attraction today and tomorrow, with the concept aiming to provide hope, encouragement and inspiration to community residents and visitors alike. Photos: PAUL MENSCH


A NEW community initiative designed to provide hope, encouragement and inspiration to local residents and visitors alike will celebrate its official launch today and tomorrow.

‘Garden of Hope Mildura’ is the brainchild of long-time Mildura resident and artist Debbie Fitzgerald, with the concept taking up residence at the old ‘Snakes and Ladders’ site on Seventeenth Street at Cabarita.

The venture has proved an all-in effort for Debbie, who sold her house to purchase the unused, 16-acre site.

“My main aim is to set up a community garden to feature lots of little quotes that aim to inspire people,” Debbie explained. “I’m creating little pieces to place around the area.

“For example I have one that has been written on an old fuel tank that reads: ‘Hope is the fuel tank of life, keep it full.’

“They’re quotes that encourage people not to give up, but to keep going.”

Debbie has established Garden of Hope Mildura as a not-for-profit organisation, with its success dependant on community support through volunteerism, donations or other in-kind support.

The response to the idea has already proven strong, according to Debbie, who said that several people had agreed that the Garden of Hope concept was much needed.

“Part of the reason why a lot of people lose hope in life is because of financial pressures, so I’m determined to make this place as free as I can,” she said. “Out the front of the site will be a free tyre playground for children, while the garden itself will be available for people to wander through free of charge, with paths to be established to make the journey easier.

“I want the space to become a community area which people of all ages can enjoy.”

Debbie, who grew up in South Australia and moved to Mildura in 1980 after finishing school, said she has “a million ideas” she wants to implement on the site – all which require time and money.

“I have plans to create a 100m long vine trellis, which will incorporate all the major grape varieties grown in the district,” she said. “The kiosk and kitchen area is also being renovated at the moment, with food and drink to be available over the coming months.

“It’s a work in progress, with any money made through the initiative to initially go back into running the gardens, with any profits to be donated to local charities.

“Hopefully when it starts to make some money we can use those funds to help other community groups make a difference in the community, and in essence become a community fund-raising initiative.

“The aim is for Garden of Hope to be Mildura’s newest tourist attraction, and a fun family place to visit. I want to make people laugh and smile, I want it to be a fun place.”

The official launch of Garden of Hope Mildura is running all day today and tomorrow, with the community site to begin operating from 9am to 4pm Monday to Thursdays starting next week.

“The launch is about going public, and giving the community a chance to learn more about the initiative,” Debbie said. “People are driving past at the moment, seeing activity and wondering what’s happening.

“The two-day event will also open the door for people to learn how they can get involved in the initiative.”

Member for Mildura Peter Crisp is expected to officially launch the project at 4pm today, with sausage sizzles, tea and coffee to be available across the two-day launch.

More information is available by visiting, on the group’s Facebook page, or by contacting Debbie on 0427 121 042.