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Policy documents

Department of Environment, Climate Change & Water Guarantee of Service

The Royal Botanic Gardens & Domain Trust fulfils its mission by

  • maintaining, enhancing and interpreting a diverse collection of scientifically documented living plants displayed in horticulturally attractive settings
  • pursuing botanical research programs of quality, as judged by internationally accepted standards, in studying the relationships, classification, and ecology of plants
  • maintaining and augmenting a comprehensive collection of almost one million preserved plant specimens used for taxonomic research
  • conducting horticultural research into the conservation of rare and endangered species, pest and disease control, and developing new methods for breeding, propagating and storing plant material
  • publishing valid, up-to-date, refereed research papers in the Trust's scientific journals Telopea and Cunninghamia, and other journals
  • providing an over-the-counter and phone service for botanical information and horticultural advice, five days a week
  • running an education service which conducts activities and classes for school and tertiary students and adults, and trains teachers in using the Gardens as an educational resource
  • conducting guided walks at the Gardens, including regular free walks, occasional theme walks and special walks on request
  • disseminating accurate, well-researched information which promotes the scientific, educational and recreational objectives of the Royal Botanic Gardens & Domain Trust  to all sectors of the community
  • managing a visitor centre and comprehensive horticultural and botanical bookshop at each Garden, open seven days a week
  • assisting the Trust support group, the Friends of The Gardens, in special activities, lectures and excursions
  • cooperating with other botanic gardens and research institutions to share information and resources.

Staff Code of Conduct

Staff employed by the Royal Botanic Gardens & Domain Trust must follow a code of conduct. Staff in public contact positions are expected to provide all necessary assistance to members of the public and to treat them with courtesy and sensitivity.

Department of Environment, Climate Change & Water Statement of Business Ethics

Community Involvement

Comments from visitors to our three Gardens are welcomed. Visitor Books are located within the visitor centre at each Garden. Visitor surveys also provide valuable feedback on the services and facilities offered by the Royal Botanic Gardens & Domain Trust. Phone (02) 231 8172 with your comments and suggestions. A contact name will be provided in all correspondence and telephone inquiries. Written correspondence will be responded to within 21 days and should be addressed to:

The Secretary
Royal Botanic Gardens & Domain Trust
Mrs Macquaries Road Sydney 2000

Friends of The Gardens

The Friends was established in 1982 to encourage the use and enjoyment of the Gardens, and to improve community awareness of the scientific, educational, historical, cultural and recreational functions of the Gardens and the Herbarium. The Friends, with a membership of more than 5000, serves as the Gardens Customer Council, linking the Trust and the community, promoting the development of the Gardens and raising funds for purposes approved by the Trust. The Friends have a varied activities program and produce a quarterly newsletter.

For further information contact

Friends of The Gardens
Mrs Macquaries Road
Sydney NSW 2000
Tel (02) 231 8182

In 1996, the NSW Parliament made a legislative commitment to acknowledge and actively value the cultural diversity of the NSW people by supporting and promoting the following principles:

  • all individuals in New South Wales should have the greatest possible opportunity to contribute to, and participate in, all aspects of public life in which they may legally participate.
  • all individuals and institutions should respect and make provision for the culture, language and religion of others within an Australian legal and institutional framework where English is the common language.
  • all individuals should have the greatest possible opportunity to make use of and participate in relevant activities and programs provided or administered by the Government of NSW.
  • all institutions of NSW should recognise the linguistic and cultural assets in the population of NSW as a valuable resource and promote this resource to maximise the development of the State.

These principles are now part of the Community Relation Commission and Principles of Multiculturalism Act 2000 (section 3).

As a significant tourist destination, educator and communicator, the Royal Botanic Gardens & Domain Trust is committed to these principles and has developed a plan of action to value cultural diversity both within the sites (through initiatives to ensure our sites and services are accessible and to ensure that our staff are comfortable and valued) and in the broader community (through our outreach programs). This plan of action will be reviewed and updated on an annual basis and information concerning implementation of the plan can be obtained from the Trust’s Annual Report.

Horticulture, living collections and environmental commitment

Botanic Gardens & Centennial Parklands (BGCP) is strongly committed to protecting, conserving and enhancing our environment. As custodians of unique botanic gardens, parklands and collections we have a responsibility to continuously improve our environmental performance, in partnership with the many users of the sites.

Our Environmental Vision is to provide an environment which is sustainable and through our diverse and important spaces provide a benefit for current and future generations.

We aim to achieve our vision through continual environmental improvement and by implementing an Environmental Management System that includes prevention of pollution; fulfilling regulatory and compliance obligations; and ensures all users of the BGCP environment – staff, contractors, volunteers, tenants and visitors – are aware of the factors that govern and enhance environmental performance in the following areas:

  • HERITAGE Conserve and enhance natural, indigenous and cultural heritage
  • EDUCATION Promote environmental awareness and action to improve our environment through education
  • BIODIVERSITY Enhance fauna and flora biodiversity, protect threatened species, practice environmentally sound pest & weed management
  • WATER Improve water quality and sustainable water use
  • ENERGY Improve energy efficiency and increase our use of renewable energy measures
  • WASTE Recover, recycle and develop innovative waste reduction strategies
  • TRANSPORT Reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions and promote sustainable transport options
  • POLLUTION Minimise noise, air, soil and water pollution
  • STAKEHOLDERS Ensure all stakeholders are included in decision making processes to achieve environmentally responsible development and events.

In particular we dedicate our efforts towards achieving the vision through measurement and monitoring, being accountable, transparent and diligent, providing appropriate resources, information, instruction and training.

Approved by Kim Ellis, Executive Director, 18 April 2016.

The Australian Botanic Garden Mount Annan planning documents

2006 Master Plan Review

2000 Site Master Plan & Development Plan

*Corrigendum: Please substitute the following text for 'The clash of cultures' on p.18 of the Site Master Plan.

The clash of cultures

The Dharawal people left tangible evidence of their first encounter with European settlement. Six months after the arrival of the First fleet, two bulls and four cows (then the colony’s only source of fresh meat) disappeared from the settlement at Port Jackson. The cattle wandered south, crossing the Cooks and Nepean Rivers before establishing themselves on good grazing ground in the Menangle-Camden district. The Dharawal saw these strange creatures and drew them on the wall of a sandstone shelter nearby. The Dharawal clearly depicted the characteristics of the bulls, which dominate the cave and the sense of their terror towards these new animals is also evident.

There had been no reports of violence between the Dharawal and the few Europeans settled around Mount Annan before 1810, but intensive European occupation of Minto and Macquarie’s newly declared Districts of Airds and Appin occurred over the following decade. Conflict was inevitable between such vastly different cultures and the severe droughts of 1814-16 exacerbated the situation.

Although battles were fought throughout the Campbelltown area, the Dharawal were more often observers than participants, but few Europeans were able to distinguish between particular groups of Aboriginal people; by 1816 the Europeans considered all the Cowpastures tribes to be hostile. The majority of combatants were tribes from the mountains and southern highlands, including the Gundungerra, who were more aggressive than the Dharawal.

The Appin Massacre of 1816 is widely regarded as the annihilation of the Aboriginal people of Campbelltown and Camden. Yet evidence suggests that the Dharawal did not play an aggressive role in the conflict. Other sources indicate that the Dharawal population was quite small by 1816, as many had succumbed to smallpox, influenza and other introduced diseases which had a profound effect on their lives well before the armed conflicts took place.
After the 1816 conflicts, the Dharawal remained south of the Nepean River in the Cowpastures district (including Mount Annan) under the tacit protection of the Macarthur family. In March 1818 James Meehan marked out some land on the Macarthur’s Camden estate for Dharawal (and others) that wanted to live there under Macarthur’s protection. A portion of the Camden estate was always known as ‘Budbury’s Paddock’.

The Dharawal numbers were further depleted by the 1820 influenza epidemic and between 1835 and 1845 the official number of Aborigines in the Campbelltown District fell from 20 to none, although it is clear from later records that a number of Dharawal did survive. However, the removal of their traditional hunting grounds for pastoral land and the dispersion of their tribe in the years following the conflict resulted in few Dharawal actually remaining in the district. Although corroborees were held at Camden in the 1850s, the gatherings comprised a number of tribes (including the remaining Dharawal) and it was clear that the Europeans were now the dominant ‘tribe’.

The original purpose of the Australian Botanic Garden, Mount Annan, which opened to the public 3 October 1988, was to be the location for exclusive botanic (taxonomic) displays of Australian Native Plants for the Royal Botanic Garden in Sydney. The Royal Botanic Garden dates back to 1816, operate under an act of parliament and are administered by the Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust. A major objective of the Trust is to promote public use and enjoyment of its lands while maintaining a primary focus on plants.

The role of Mount Annan Botanic Garden has evolved within the context of the growing population in Sydney’s south-west and the needs of this community. The Trust’s undertaking is to create more of a balance between the botanic collection and visitor experience - by providing excellent quality visual displays and space for recreation. Future trends in recreation and health, combined with the availability and use of 400 plus hectares of green space, will help shape the Garden’s response to future community needs.

This recreation plan is intended as a guide for current and medium-term future recreational activities, and will assist in the assimilation and segregation of passive and active recreational opportunities within the Garden. It is based on clear principles, goals and guidelines:

1. Effective long-term stewardship

As custodian of the Mount Annan Botanic Garden estate, effective, long-term stewardship is founded on the objectives of the Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust, while providing and balancing equity for visitors and ensuring the future conservation and environmental integrity of the Garden are protected.

2. Current and future passive and active recreational opportunities

Current and future passive and active recreational opportunities that are encouraged in the Garden are listed below. Consideration, with all activities, must be given to ensuring they do not conflict with the Mount Annan Botanic Garden Visitor Code of Conduct and that equity, balanced with responsible, operational management and constraints of the Garden, is ensured.

2.1 Passive recreational pursuits

  • Individual and casual walking groups
  • Organised walking groups including 'not for profit', commercial enterprises and competition
  • Garden group visits
  • Picnics and barbecues
  • Corporate events and functions
  • Celebrations
  • Bird watching
  • Tours - self guided and organised including: historic, cultural, ecological, behind the scenes, individual garden, etc.
  • Community events - Harvest food and wine fair, plant sales, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Carols in the Garden, outdoor films, etc.
  • Educational pursuits including educational holiday activities, school excursions
  • Bushwalking and supervised camping
  • Artistic expression - painting, sketching, drawing, photography, etc.

Note: Fee payment is required to undertake commercial activities.

2.2 Active recreational pursuits
Designated zones exist for:

  • Cycling, mountain bike riding, scooters and skateboards
  • Kite flying
  • School cross country events
  • Ball games
  • Events and competitions
  • Playground activities, structured and non-structured play

3. Proposals for new activities and events

All proposals for new activities and events will be considered on merit following written application. The application must state the intent and purpose of the proposed activity, required facilities and proposed benefits to the Garden and its visitors. It should also consider potential impacts on the Garden, other users, installation needs and safety issues.

This Recreation Plan will be reviewed mid-2009 and every two years beyond to ensure it remains current and reflects any changes in Botanic Gardens Trust, departmental and New South Wales Government priorities.

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