Phase 3: Celebrations & commemorations
In 2016, we will celebrate the 200th anniversary of a vote of confidence in our future that was made by the nation’s early settlers. Sydney’s Botanic Bicentenary will be a chance to reflect on an extraordinary history whose achievements are founded on the twin and interdependent attributes of all great institutions - relevance and resilience.
We’re looking a long way ahead but already some of our ideas for this phase have created a sense of anticipation within the Trust. We’re laying the groundwork for some of these ideas, though given the lead time for this phase we expect other ideas to evolve and new ideas to be added by the time you see the 2013 version of this document. Below are the ideas we have in mind.
Sixth Global Botanic Gardens Congress
The primary international event for botanic gardens worldwide is the Global Botanic Gardens Congress. The Sixth Congress will be held in 2016 and the Trust has offered to host this important event at the Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain.
The Congress is organised by Botanic Gardens Conservation International (of which the Trust is a member) in collaboration with an in-country host institution. The mission of Botanic Gardens Conservation International is to mobilise botanic gardens and engage partners in securing plant diversity for the wellbeing of people and the planet.
It will be an enormous privilege for the Botanic Gardens Trust to have the honour of hosting this Congress and to also have the opportunity to showcase our science programs and botanic gardens to the international scientific and horticultural community.
The link between botanic gardens and art goes beyond inspired landscaping. We house fabulous historic collections of botanic artworks, photographs and rare and precious editions of books that are, at the same time, both a rigorous scientific resource and works of arts in themselves. And, of course, as befits a 200-year-old citizen of Sydney, we have a lot of stories to tell. These collections are not static. An important role of the Trust is in adding to these collections on behalf of our current generation.
We’re planning three memorable publications. The first, a Florilegium, will be the culmination of a decade of work orchestrated by the Florilegium Society at the Royal Botanic Gardens. Artist members of the Florilegium Society will paint a series of botanical artworks based on the living collections at the Royal Botanic Gardens, and at Mount Tomah and Mount Annan Botanic Gardens. These works will be donated to the Botanic Gardens Trust for exhibition, and to create a publication to be launched in anticipation of our bicentenary celebrations.
Our second publication will be what everyone is looking for on an occasion such as a bicentenary: a book Celebrating 200 years of People and Place containing striking photographs of our historical moments, plants, landscapes and the special characters who have made the Gardens unique. It will be accompanied by an engaging text weaving together our history, our present and our visions for the future. This will provide people with an opportunity to understand the central role of science, horticulture and education and the special relationship the Gardens has with the people of New South Wales.
The third is a publication of a different nature. Volunteers working with the Garden’s Library have already started recording stories and interviews about the Royal Botanic Gardens, the Domain, Mount Annan Botanic Garden and Mount Tomah Botanic Garden through the eyes of past and present staff members and their families. This oral history will capture the flavour and detail of times and occasions that are too good to be forgotten. This is a project that will take us all the way up to 2016 and stretch back as far as possible into the past.
The Royal Botanic Gardens is located at the site of the first European settlement in Australia, on the traditional lands of the Aboriginal inhabitants, the Cadigal, one of many clans of the Eora. The establishment of the Gardens in 1816 on the lands of the Governor’s Domain so soon after settlement, built upon the dispossession and demise of the Cadigal.
In 1816, the boundaries of the colony were expanding further and further. The year has particular resonance for the D’harawal people of the Camden/Campbelltown area where Mount Annan Botanic Garden is located, as it was then the frontier of conflict, dispossession and disease that resulted in the death of many D’harawal people. The Darug people of Tomah (thought to be the Darug word for the tree fern which dominates Mount Tomah) were at this time on the precipice of a similar experience.
The Trust and local Aboriginal communities together will create themed gardens and displays, educational programs, guided tours and publications to acknowledge the significance of these lands to Aboriginal people, past and present. For our bicentenary in 2016, we will work with local Aboriginal communities to devise a program of events to commemorate the significance of the botanic estates for Aboriginal people today.
For several years now the Royal Botanic Gardens has been the site of the first official event of Australia Day celebrations on 26 January. Increasingly more people are joining in the Woggan-ma-gule Morning Ceremony which brings cultures together in the meeting of the waters. On the Eora nation and lands of the Cadigal clan, the Woggan-magule Morning Ceremony continues to maintain the age-old custodial tradition of ceremony. Ceremony is performed at both contemporary and traditional gatherings; in Woggan-ma-gule, we continue the commemoration of the past and the celebration of the future.
We’ll be linking this program of events to celebrations planned for 2017 to mark significant milestones in Aboriginal reconciliation - 50 years since the 1967 Referendum, 20 years since ‘Bringing Them Home’ and 60 years of NAIDOC - and almost 230 years since the coming of European settlers to these lands.
Open Science and Horticulture
Open Science and Horticulture will focus on finding new ways for our knowledge and skills to take root in the broader community. The year 2014 is an eon away in the world of communications so we can’t quite foresee all the possibilities, but back here in 2008 we have a couple of ideas already.
We’ll expand our website as another botanic estate. This virtual learning centre will include downloadable podcasts for self-guiding tours, personal enrichment and for curriculum-related learning.
We’d also like to make more of our scientific information available to the broadest possible audience. Our on-line PlantNET site will be the onestop- shop for all plant and gardening information. Our scientists will be training the decision-makers of the future, in modules delivered through universities as well as on-site. In the years leading up to 2014, we are certain that many other ideas will evolve.
Technical courses teaching new and practical horticultural skills at a variety of levels will be increasingly important in a world with regular periods of water scarcity and where the carbon costs of food transportation will be a pressing issue. We’ll continue to build strong educational partnerships and work with TAFE and universities, as well as private sector partners such as Eden Gardens and community partners such as those established at the Macarthur Centre for Sustainable Living, to provide certificated courses for specialists as well as those who just want to learn the basics of gardening.
Mount Tomah Botanic Garden is the ideal location for a residential horticulture school, and we have some ideas for how to accommodate eager students, while improving facilities and access to the Botanic Garden generally.
In 2016 we’re planning to hold a series of celebratory occasions which will honour the contributions of the Friends, the Foundation, and past and present staff and volunteers. Many events will include invitations to the public to join us in the celebrations.
At this stage, ideas for this series include:
- Bicentenary cricket match on the Domain, the site of Sydney’s first inter-colonial cricket match
- Botanical reunion for all our past and present staff and volunteers - an unforgettable gathering of the great and good of the botanical world in New South Wales
- Commemorative plant release to mark 200 years of expertise in plant propagation.