Botanic Gardens Trust, Sydney, Australia


Buildings & art


Flower Sculpture

Administration buildings, horticulture laboratories, nursery, NSW Seedbank facilities

These buildings, located just north of the centrel loop near the middle of the Australian Botanic Garden, are not open to the public except for behind-the-scenes tours. The main administration/nursery complex was built in 1986 during the main development stage of the Garden, with a Bicentennial grant. At the same time, the theme gardens, Terrace Garden and lakes were constructed.

The horticulture research laboratory was established in 1989, with a tissue culture laboratory the dominant design feature.

In 1999 NSW Treasury provided capital funds for the redevelopment of the NSW Seedbank facility. This redevelopment included a seed drying room, walk-in coolroom and freezer, seed testing room and additional office space, making it one of the best seedbanks in Australia and the major repository for NSW threatened species.

The Australian PlantBank

The research facility at the Australian Botanic Garden, the Australian PlantBank, aims to be a secure repository for Australian species (including germplasm, seeds and tissue cultures), a regional hub for innovative and applied change research, a collaborative venture with major universities in Sydney, and a public and student education facility. For more information about this project see Australian PlantBank.


 NSWSeedbank building


Bowden Centre for learning

The Bowden Centre was opened on Monday 7 May 2007 by the Hon. Phil Koperberg, Minister for Climate Change, Environment and Water. Catering for groups as large as 150, the centre will play host to school children visiting the Garden as well as providing conference facilities for businesses wishing to escape the grind of the city to workshop and meet in a location that cannot help but inspire.

To book the venue, please contact the Functions and Events Officer on 02 4634 7903 or email

Bowden Centre



Visitor Centre & Restaurant

The Visitor Centre located in the central precinct is a focal point for the Garden and was opened in 1990. It features an extensive planting of bushfoods and useful plants from right across Australia. In 2002 the Visitor Centre was converted to become the restaurant. This area also includes a beautifully landscaped childrens playground.

The Visitor Centre is the central location for information on the Garden, bookings for picnics, information on weddings and also sells an array of giftware. 

Visitor Centre and shop


Bird Hide

The bird hide, located at Lake Nadungamba, was donated by the Friends of The Gardens and was completed in 1997.

bird hide


Water Supply Canal

Registered as a heritage item, the Sydney Water Supply Canal is managed by the Sydney Catchment Authority. It runs through the centre of the Australian Botanic Garden and supplies most of the irrigation water for the Garden. The canal was built between 1880 and 1888 and is part of the Upper Nepean Scheme, Sydney's fourth water supply. This scheme, first proposed in 1869, harnessed the headwaters of the Nepean River and its tributaries, the Cataract, Cordeaux and Avon Rivers, to ensure a reliable, high-quality water supply for the rapidly growing city.

The Upper Canal is an engineering marvel and is entirely gravity fed. It consists of tunnels, open canals and aqueducts that convey water 62 km from Pheasants Nest to Prospect Reservoir, entirely by gravity. The canal passes under part of the Garden via a 686 m tunnel. Entry to the reserved areas around the canal is prohibited to protect the water supply.

The canal is mainly cut through natural sandstone bedrock but some sections, especially where it passes through shale, are lined with sandstone, brick or cement. It is believed that sandstone quarried from the north face of Mount Annan was used for this purpose and as capping on the brick aqueduct south of the tunnel.

The canal provides water for Camden, Campbelltown and Liverpool, also Wilton, Appin and Douglas Park. Until 1960 when the Warragamba Dam was completed, the Upper Nepean system supplied most of Sydney's water. It is a remarkable engineering feat which will continue to supply this most precious resource for many years to come.

Water Canal

Federation Flannel Flower Maze

A permanent installation at the Australian Botanic Garden is a maze quiz designed to exercise your brain as well as your legs. The maze was launched in 2002 by Graham West, Member for Campbelltown, with a traditional Aboriginal welcome being given by the Australian Botanic Garden's Knowledge Holders, Fran Bodkin and Gavin Andrews.

Named the Federation Flannel Flower Maze, the installation takes on the shape of a stylised flannel flower and features a paved track 245 metres in length which presents a series of 10 questions about Federation at key intersections. If all questions are answered correctly, visitors are directed to the cascading fountain in the middle of the maze. 

The maze was designed to be a celebration of the Centenary of Federation and to be a stylised form of the NSW Centenary of Federation floral emblem, the flannel flower (Actinotus helianthi) - which is the focus of much ongoing research, propagation and cultivation at the Australian Botanic Garden. Several flannel flower strains, including Star Bright and the long-stemmed Parkes Star, are being cultivated at the Australian Botanic Garden as well the Annan Star (Rhodanthe anthemoides).

The maze provides visitors with a unique experience while inspiring an appreciation of plants. It is intended to be fun and entertaining, while at the same time being an educational experience for people of all ages.

Federation maze

Sundial of Human Involvement

Completed in 1989, this 'analemmatic sundial' is a type of sundial that uses a person's shadow to tell the time. It is located on the top of Sundial Hill, where you will be able to enjoy spectacular 360 degree views of the Australian Botanic Garden and the surrounding countryside.

The Sundial of Human Involvement is a horizontal sundial that does not have any hour lines marked on it. Instead of hour lines, it has a series of fixed hour markers - in this case basalt columns from our Blue Mountains Botanic Garden. The columns are located around the circumference of an ellipse so that the sundial looks a bit like Stonehenge! A person standing on the correct part of a central figure of eight (depending on the time of the year) casts a shadow onto the basalt columns, and this is how you tell the time.

There are detailed instructions next to the sundial, and a brochure with more information on the sundial is available from the Visitor Centre - so why not visit it and see if you can tell the time!

Click here to find out more about the Sundial.


Campbelltown (Mount Annan) Automatic Weather Station

The Automatic Weather Station provides updates every 30 min to the Bureau of Meteorology via a radio-link and telephone. The data measured include air and soil temperature, humidity, wind speed and direction and rainfall. Weather conditions are available live (within 30 minutes) to the public and news agencies for reporting on the daily weather updates.

The Automatic Weather Station is located just to the east of the Woodland Picnic Area at the Australian Botanic Garden. The best way to find the compound is to park your car at the Woodland Picnic Area and follow the path down and past the picnic shelter. Follow the path through the trees, over the creek and as you come up the rise you will see the Weather Station a short distance in front.

AWS compound

Stolen Generations Memorial

The Stolen Generations Memorial is designed to take visitors on a ‘journey’ of healing and reflection, first through Cumberland Plain Woodland - the original forest that once occurred across the Cumberland Plain - then through a series of boardwalks. 

The site was chosen by the Stolen Generations to reconnect Aboriginal people with their land. Their story is told in the sculptural centrepiece and they invite visitors to sit and reflect on the tragic consequences of separating Aboriginal children from their families. If you wish, you can scoop up some water from the ‘river of tears’ and trickle it onto the sculpture, and, as you do this, try to imagine the experiences of the Stolen Generations and make this a place for all Australians to continue the healing process.

The sculptural centrepiece, of Hawkesbury sandstone from the nearby Appin quarry, was designed and carved by the Paakantyi artist Badger Bates, from Wilcannia, western NSW. The sculpture is at home in this place and brings a feeling of peacefulness. ‘The front panel of the sculpture shows a mother and father with small child and baby - the child size footprints on the ground represent the child being taken away, and the adult footprints on the other side represent the grown up child returning to find his/her people. The water feature represents the tears of sorrow shed by all affected by the Stolen Generations - tears that are still being shed today. ‘The back panel is my gift to the Stolen Generations. It represents a thundercloud and rain called up by the Ngatyi or Rainbow Serpent, who is angry and sad over the hurt done to his people who were taken away from their country.’

This Memorial is part of a commitment by the NSW Government and the Botanic Gardens Trust to reconciliation with the Indigenous people of Australia. Plans for this Memorial were launched on Sorry Day, 26 May 2003 and it was opened 2 October 2007.

Click here for information on the Indigenous people of the Mount Annan area.

Badger Bates

Sculptor Badger Bates working on the Stolen Generations Memorial centrepiece


Sculptures in the Garden

Enhancing the visitor experience is a series of sculptures, ranging from permanent stone structures to more temporary art works made from recycled materials.

  • Wallaby silhouettes by John Petrie
  • Wedding knot by Geoff Duggan
  • Snails by Keith Polsen
  • Enhance the drive through experience by Graham Chalcroft

Click here to find out more about the Sculptures.

Created by Graham Chalcroft


Macarthur Centre for Sustainable Living

Community group CERES Macarthur and the Australian Botanic Garden have forged a partnership to create a Centre for Sustainable Living in the Macarthur region. The Centre is located at the Australian Botanic Garden, on the boundary between Campbelltown and Camden, corner of Narellan Road and Mount Annan Drive.

Macarthur Centre for Sustainable Living is a multi-purpose centre focussed on sustainable homes and gardens, education and community participation. Its goal is to promote sustainability, social equity, cultural diversity and economic stability. The site includes displays of alternative energy production and use, waste water recycling, water and energy efficiency, waste avoidance and management. The facility demonstrates how sustainability can be achieved at the individual household community and regional levels. The site hosts community-led cultural events and festivals.

Working models of solar power operated equipment, composting toilets, home compost units and worm farms are but a few of the proposed practical displays. Garden development will rely on both community volunteers and ongoing involvement with the Australian Botanic Garden staff. Rehabilitation of the degraded creek line running through the proposed site will be an associated project.

Organic food, including that produced on site, will be sold at weekend markets and at the cafe or retail venue.  A nursery will also be set up on site to produce permaculture style and other plant material.

Employment will be generated, through on-site development and following vocational training, as will economic activity through its role as a tourist attraction and education resource.

The site and its programs will provide opportunities for existing groups and organisations to extend and enhance their activities.

This is an exciting opportunity for the dynamic partnership of a community group and state government agency to forge new boundaries and establish working examples of sustainability in an interactive and innovative venue for visitors from far and wide to visit, appreciate and embrace.

MCSL building