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Rosemary Roberts

Volunteer since 2006

Volunteering at the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney has been like another career for me. I have learnt an enormous amount, met wonderful and knowledgeable people at the Garden, both volunteers and staff, and last but not least, interacted with visitors from all over the world.

I started volunteering at the Garden in 2006. I also do some work in a voluntary capacity for the World Health Organization, The Silver Society of Australia and the Gordon Garden Club, as well as helping my daughter with her three children.

Most of my career has been related to health administration and public health, most recently at the University of Sydney, where I was responsible for a research centre developing standard health classifications for Australia and internationally.

The world of plants has been a revelation to me and sharing that with others has been the best experience of being a volunteer guide. I’m also immensely proud of the Garden with such a fabulous collection of Australian and exotic plants, and I feel honoured to work with the Garden's staff in understanding the collection so that I can better share it with others.

What have you been doing during Covid-19 to keep busy?

During the lockdown, I took a step back from volunteering and reconnected with my home garden, which also gives me great delight.

For me, volunteering at the Garden has opened up a whole new world. As Robin Powell says (SMH Nov 28-29 2020), “bouts in the garden make me feel better about everything” (a bit like Mozart), and personally, this has intellectual, social and physical aspects.

I have experienced such generosity from the professional experts as well as mentoring volunteers that their inspiration has made me want to share their knowledge and enthusiasm with others.

The features that will remain with me are being part of the excitement and enjoyment of the living collection at the Royal Botanic Garden and coming to understand the botanical and historical background of the plants and the history of the site. What an honour and privilege it has been to be able to interpret even a small slice of this to our visitors, international and locals. 

Find out more about the volunteer program at the Garden here.