Around Canberra - The National Arboretum!

While my mum was here over the Christmas break, we decided to do a little more local sight-seeing. We had lunch at the local Club - the kids were most offended when the lady at the front desk offered them colouring in! Guess they are growing up :-) We then visited the National Arboretum. I had no idea when we first moved to Canberra that we had an Arboretum (or even, if I'm completely honest) what an arboretum was. I knew it was something to do with plants, but how is it different to a botanical gardens (which we also have here in Canberra). According to the website, an arboretum is a collection of living trees, cultivated for conservation, scientific, research, and education purposes. 

Ours is certainly very pretty and scenic:

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It was opened in 2013, after the bushfires in 2003 that devastated much of the bushland around Canberra. There were four existing forest plantings - the Cork Oaks, native trees, Himalayan cedars and Monterey pines (which apparently are just radiata pines, Pinus radiata). As is our wont in Canberra, they held a competition to design the new arboretum, and an expert panel decided what to plant (see here for a complete list of plantings). Today there the beginnings of those plantings (Wollemi Pines were planted in 2006) and lots of infrastructure and it makes for a lovely couple of hours out.

The main Visitor Centre is an impressive building, with high, arched ceilings, expansive glass to take in the view, a cafe, a restaurant, an excellent gift shop and lots of information:

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[caption id="attachment_2163" align="aligncenter" width="616"]IMG_8131 (Medium) Mount Stromlo Observatory was largely destroyed in the bushfires, shattering the glass lenses...[/caption]

They have also constructed an amazing grassed amphitheatre, which apparently  has concerts, but on our day out, had kite-flyers (note to self, bring kites) and was just calling out to be rolled down. My two sat on the grass for a bit, comtemplating if they were too old to roll down the hill...

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...apparently they are not!!!

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There is also a lovely Bonsai display with an impressive range of carefully manicured plants made to look like miniature trees:

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IMG_8162 (Medium) IMG_8166 (Medium) IMG_8168 (Medium)IMG_8181 (Medium)

IMG_8188 (Medium) IMG_8185 (Medium) IMG_8186 (Medium)There is also an impressive array of outdoor sculptures, including this one of Wide Brown Land, after Dorothea McKellar's famous Australia poem, My Country and based her handwriting. It's 35 metres long and 3 metres high. McKellar was just 19 years old when she wrote the iconic words that every Australian should be familiar with:

"I love a sunburnt country,
A land of sweeping plains,
Of ragged mountain ranges,
Of droughts and flooding rains.
I love her far horizons,
I love her jewel-sea,
Her beauty and her terror -
The wide brown land for me!"

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I didn't know what to make of these two older, very Australian, gentleman, who were trying to work out what the words were. I felt like yelling at them "it's Wide Brown Land, you numbnuts! You know, Dorothea McKellar!!!!! You know!!!" But I didn't - I showed admirable restraint. But it would be these two who would be criticising our young people and their deplorable lack of education, so I found it amusing.

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Next to the carpark, on the way out, with Black Mountain in the background, was one of the coolest playgrounds I think I've seen. Featuring acorn pods and banksia cubbies, the kids were dying to have a go. But alas, they decided that they were actually physically too big to actually fit. Plus the place was crawling with a bajillionty little kids. And so we went home. With my big kids.

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Have you been to the Arboretum?

Did you know what one was?

Where was the coolest playground you've even seen?


  1. I hadn't realised this was in Canberra. You have so many places to visit.

    What? You weren't offered a colouring page? How rude. :p

  2. Canberra is a veritable goldmine of things to do! It is a lovely place to homeschool...or weekend school!


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