You probably already know that The Australian Botanic Garden at Mount Annan is the largest botanic garden in Australia. I'm sure you're also aware that it is devoted to the study and preservation of Australian native plants. Obviously you would have visited the garden since it opened in 1988. However since then the gardens have matured and are ever-changing with added attractions such as sculptures, memorials, added picnic shelters and much more. If you haven't visited for a while perhaps it is time for another look.
Wouldn't you like to take a tour?(Image Credit: Australian Botanic Garden)
Entry to the gardens is free and if you visit on a weekday you can also join a free guided tour. I would highly recommend the guided tour as a great way to get an overview of the gardens which cover an area of 416 hectares. The tours are conducted on most week days by volunteer guides.
I joined a tour recently and found it both informative and enjoyable. This particular tour started from the Visitor Centre with volunteer guide Peter, who took us around the garden in a motorised cart.
From the Visitor Centre, we drove up the walking path to the top of the hill with a lovely view over the lake where Peter gave us a brief history of the gardens site.
Traditionally Mount Annan, or Yandel'ora, was an important meeting area for the Dharawal people. The name means 'place of peace between peoples" a name just as relevant for the areas use today. After European settlement the region was known as "Cowpastures" due to the good grazing land found by the colony's cows that had wandered south. Up until the 1970's the area was still used in this way as home to dairy farms. The Mount Annan Botanic Garden opened in 1988 and has since had a name change to the Australian Botanic Garden.
The Love Knot
As we continued on the tour we passed through the Fig Tree Arboretum and on to The Love Knot
, one of the many sculptures in the gardens. The Love Knot
is made of a solid, dry stone wall and symbolises love, friendship, respect and loyalty. This sculpture was designed and installed in 2005 by Geoff Duggan, a Master Craftsman dry stone waller.
The view to the west
Our next stop on the tour was the Sundial of Human Involvement
. Located at the top of a hill, where you get spectacular 360 degree views of the surrounding area. If you are visiting on a clear day you may even be able to see the city to the east and the Blue Mountains to the west.
Sundial of Human Involvement
The Sundial uses a person's shadow to tell the time. To use it you stand on the central marker piece and choose the date closest to the current day. Your shadow will be cast on to one of the basalt columns, which have the hour numbers on them thus giving you a rough indication of the time.
From the Sundial, we drove down the hill and joined up with the main roadway which loops around the gardens. The road is a single direction which means, if you are driving yourself, you can't really get lost.
The picnic area of the Wattle Garden
The tour then explored the separate garden and picnic areas including the Garden of Big Ideas, the Wattle Garden and Banksia Garden. All of these areas have their own picnic grounds complete with shelters and free BBQ's. While they are heavily used and very busy on weekends, during the week they are mostly empty and very peaceful.
On the way back to the Visitor Centre we passed by the Blue Ruin
sculpture. Blue Ruin
highlights the beauty of a dead tree as well as its uses as a shelter, perch or nesting hollow for a wide range of animals.
The free guided tour runs for an hour to give you a brief overview of the garden. Of course an hour is not long enough to see everything the garden has to offer. Other areas of interest which I would recommend are the Wollemi Walk of Discovery
, Stolen Generations Memorial and the lush Connections Garden.
There are also many other areas to explore such as the Mountain Bike Trail, The Australian Plant Bank, Melaleuca House restaurant and café, childrens playground and the Visitor Centre.
For more information about visiting the Australian Botanic Garden click here.
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To join a free guided tour you can book in at the Visitor Centre in person or you can call 02 4634 7935 to book ahead and ensure your place.
The garden is open every day of the year. Summer opening hours are from 8am - 7pm. During Autumn, Winter and Spring the garden is open from 8am - 5pm. Entry to the garden is via Narellan Road, Mount Annan.