Robert de Bruce Johnstone

With a well-known local name, this was the last resting place of Robert De Bruce Johnstone, who gave his name to Johnstone Park in the centre of town.

Robert was born in London of a Scottish father and German mother in 1820. 

Both of his parents had died before 1827, when he was 7 years old.  As an orphan, he was educated at Bluecoat School in London, before being apprenticed to a saddler.

He came to Geelong in 1853 at the age of 33 at a time when gold fever was gripping the colony. But he wasn’t attracted by the lure of the goldfields, he was at heart a manager, conservationist and administrator. 

As a member of the Geelong town council for 22 years, and mayor for five terms, he was determined to see that the wealth that Geelong was making from the gold rushes would not be squandered, but to instead leave a lasting heritage for those that came after. 

To this end he drained a swamp area close to the centre of town to create the ornamental park that bears his name. But that was just part of his heritage.

He earned a reputation as the ‘Parks and Gardens Mayor’ for his reserving of many public spaces and his support for the Geelong Botanic Gardens and its curator, Daniel Bunce.

Following Mayor Johnstone’s time on council he was to serve 13 years as a parliamentary representative, during which time he widened his vision to turn the first sod of ‘Stoney Creek’ reservoir in the Brisbane Ranges, Geelong’s first water storage reservoir.

He died in 1881, and his monument was erected by public subscription, as he left no will and had no family.

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