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Indigenous heritage

People, Plants & Place

The rich Indigenous history of our three sites plays an important role in your Gardens. The traditional owners of the Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain, the Australian Botanic Gardens, Mount Annan and the Blue Mountains Botanic Garden, Mount Tomah are the Cadigal, Dharawal and Darug respectively.

The Gardens and local Aboriginal communities work together to create themed gardens and displays, educational programs, guided tours and publications to acknowledge the significance of these lands to Aboriginal people, past and present.

Cadi Jam Ora: First Encounters

Cadi Jam Ora: First Encounters is an award-winning garden display that interprets the Aboriginal cultural heritage of the Royal Botanic Garden. Surrounded by native vegetation with origins of around 200 years, this 52 metre sculptural ‘storyline’ tells the Indigenous history of Sydney, gathering stories from a range of sources, including over 40 interviews with local Indigenous people.  

This provocative garden gives insight into the first encounters between early European settlers and the traditional Indigenous inhabitants, the Cadigal, and interprets their differing environmental perspectives. Wuganmagulya is a ground artwork found along the Farm Cove path linking the Opera House and Mrs Macquaries Point.

Etched into the pathway kerb are names of women and men, places, animals, tools and rituals from the clans and language groups of the Sydney area. You’ll also be able to find terrazzo and stained concrete figures representing Sydney rock carvings. 

Aboriginal Heritage Tours

Learn about the richly diverse history and culture of the Indigenous in Sydney by taking an Aboriginal Heritage Tour with an Aboriginal Guide. The unique tour occurs every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday at 10am except on public holidays. Book now! 

The Australian Botanic Garden Mount Annan

Stolen Generations Memorial 
Yandel’ora is the name the Dharawal people gave to Mount Annan, meaning ‘place of peace between peoples’. Acknowledging the Stolen Generations has been a focal issue for Aboriginal Reconciliation in Australia, and a memorial recognising this event is found in the Australian Botanic Garden.

The Stolen Generations Memorial was planned in 1999 between n the NSW Stolen Generations Committee, the Botanic Gardens Trust and Link Up NSW. Experience the memorial as a journey of healing and reflection, as you walk through the tranquil Cumberland Plain Woodland,leading to a peaceful meeting place with water and a sandstone sculptural centrepiece.

Fruit Loop Garden 
See and taste seasonal native fruits when visiting the circular garden located within the Australian Botanic Garden. You can also learn about bush foods and find out about plants that are important to Dharawal people.

The Blue Mountains Botanic Garden Mount Tomah

Darug Connections 
The Blue Mountains Botanic Garden is part of Darug Aboriginal Country and respects the rights of Indigenous people, particularly in relation to land, culture and heritage. ‘Tomah’ is the Darug word for tree fern, which dominate the surrounding rainforests. You can spot interpretive signage and art created by Darug artists celebrating the past, present and future Darug associations with Mount Tomah and other Aboriginal places in the region 

Aboriginal Education Programs

At each of the Botanic Gardens, lessons with Indigenous themes have been developed for primary (K-6), secondary (7-12) and tertiary students. These are closely linked to curriculum requirements and New South Wales Board of Studies syllabus outcomes. 

Lessons such as 'Aboriginal People and Plants', 'Bush Foods of Sydney', 'Aboriginal Studies' and 'Everyone Needs a Home' identify plants that Aboriginal people have used for food, tools and weapons and provide an Indigenous perspective on living with, and from, the native bushland. Other lessons investigate the true events of First Fleet arrival in Sydney Harbour in 1788 and also offer bush tucker sessions to students studying in TAFE colleges, in partnership with the Restaurant & Catering Association of NSW. 


A wide range of specialised publications that link Aboriginal people to plants and places are to be found at all three Botanic Garden Shops. In addition, the Trust has two of its own relevant titles:

Bush Foods of New South Wales by Kathy Stewart and Bob Percival (1997), provides insightful information on the most commonly used bush food plants of New South Wales. This book is now out of print. See the Bush foods of NSW web pages (or download pdf file) and the Aboriginal bush foods web pages .

Darug Connections by Suzanne Kenney (2000), tells the Darug Aboriginal story with works of art created by Darug artists Robyn Caughlan, Mrs Edna Watson and Ian Bundeluk Watson. 

Cultural Awareness and Community Outreach

Acknowledgement / Welcome to Country are appropriate cultural protocols that recognise Aboriginal connection to Country. Trust staff observe these throughout day-to-day operations, particularly at major events held on its botanic estates.

The Trust also takes its expertise ‘beyond the garden walls’ and helps schools and community groups seeking advice in establishing native gardens, often incorporating bush tucker and/or reconciliation themes. Trust staff also support the work of local Indigenous communities by offering assistance in plant identification and selection, landscape design and garden preparation.

Disadvantaged Indigenous communities are given the opportunity to develop gardening skills and a deeper appreciation of the natural environment as part of Community Greening, an initiative of the Trust and NSW Department of Housing.