The Wollongong Botanic Garden site was originally inhabited by the Dharawal Aboriginal peoples; they remain the custodians of the land. Aboriginal culture and identity has been preserved in the Garden.
After the arrival of Europeans in the Illawarra, much of the land was used for farming.
1825 James Spearing acquired 2000 acres of land including the current Botanic Garden site and named it 'Paulsgrove Estate'
1836 John Leahy purchases 'Paulsgrove' and renames it 'Mt Keera Estate'
1839 Leahy’s heirs subdivide the estate into farming and house lots after his passing
1841 Robert and Charles Campbell received a Crown grant of 1000 acres which included the site of Gleniffer Brae
1901 James Fitzgerald acquired the land and it became a dairy farm
1921 James Fitzgerald built the 'Cratloe' Cottage, now called the Discovery Centre
1929 Arthur Sidney Hoskins purchases 75 acres of land
1939 Hoskin completed building his family home 'Gleniffer Brae Manor'. Their original garden around the Manor was designed and planted by landscape architect Paul Sorenson and sets the scene for the future inspiration of the Botanic Garden.
1937 The 'Cratloe' Cottage was given to Hoskin's Gardener, Eric Winter.
1951 Hoskins donates a 46 acres of the estate to Wollongong City Council for the purpose of building a Botanic Garden and a further 36 acres was purchased by the Department of Housing
1954 Glennifer Brae and surrounding areas (15.5 acres) was purchased by the Sydney Church of England Girls Grammar School (SCEGGS). A year later they purchased a further 20 acres from Council
1963 Work to develop the Garden to represent Professor Peter Spooner's (University of NSW) Master Plan began.
1964 The first plantings on the Azalea Bank were installed
1966 Council purchased 'Cratloe' and the adjoining 2.5 acres. It became the home of the Curator until 1978
1968 the Botanic Garden was opened to the public during working hours and in that same year, Council obtain a $9,500 grant to build the Garden’s Sir Joseph Banks Glasshouse
1971 Garden was officially opened to the public on 2 January. More than 6,000 people visited in the first year
1975-78 Construction of the walled Rose Garden took place
1978 Council purchased Gleniffer Brae Manor and the surrounding grounds on 7 July
1978 The house was listed for sale. Council took possession of the property Gleniffer Brae via a notice of resumption, including the manor house, outbuildings and 10 hectares of land.
1980 Council leased the school buildings and some rooms within the manor house to the Wollongong Branch of the NSW Conservatorium of Music, which took up residence on part of the site. Wollongong City Council also used the remainder of the house as a function centre
1980s The Wet Schlerophyll habitat was created. Swamp Mahogany, Sydney Blue Gums and Port Jackson Figs were planted within this collection.
The Woodland Garden was created, with a range of exotic species being planted like Maples, Magnolias, Birches and Dogwoods
The Dryland Collection, the Dry Sclerophyll Forest, the Herb Garden and the Exotic Rainforest were also developed during this decade.
1985 The Manor House was listed on the National Trust of Australia Register
1988 Friends of Wollongong Botanic Garden presented a custom made Equatorial Sundial to Wollongong Botanic Garden as a bicentenary gift to the city. The Sundial was stolen from the Rose Garden in 2012 but was replaced in 2014.
1991 The Friends of the Botanic Garden donated the Woodland Garden Gazebo
1993 the iconic Kawasaki Bridge was built by the city’s Sister City representatives
1999 The Manor House was added to the NSW State Heritage Register. It is now protected under the NSW Heritage Act.
2001 Wollongong Botanic Garden Visitor / Administration Centre was opened
2008 All Abilities Playground was opened
2011 Outdoor cinema summer program commenced
2012 The Towri Bush Tucker Garden and Centre was opened
2015 The Palm Garden was officially opened to the public on 25 October