Brad Pillans, Director, NRG Steering Committee

Published in the National Rock Garden Newsletter No. 25, May 2023

In February we received good news—works approval was granted by the National Capital Authority for relocation of the National Rock Garden to its new site within the National Arboretum Canberra, including construction of paths and rock display pads as well as relocation and installation of rocks. Works approval then allowed us to seek tenders from construction companies to carry out the necessary landscaping. At the time of writing, tenders are being evaluated with a view to announcing the successful tenderer as soon as possible. With long-range weather forecasts by the Bureau of Meteorology indicating that we are moving from La Nina to neutral or perhaps El Nino weather patterns this year, we are optimistic that wet weather will not hinder construction activity in the coming months.

On Friday 5 May, the National Arboretum held a 10th anniversary dinner and generously offered 10 complementary tickets to NRG Steering Committee and Advisory Council members. Coincidentally, this year is also 10 years since the NRG opened its first display—the Federation Rocks—to celebrate the centenary of Canberra in 2013. A highlight of the dinner was a performance by renowned didgeridoo player, William Barton, accompanied by a string quartet from the Australian National University. Our thanks to Arboretum manager, Scott Saddler, for inviting us to be part of the celebration. The dinner was also an opportunity to show off my zebra rock shirt, complete with matching hand-specimen. A great way to get people talking about rocks!

Brad Pillans with his matching shirt and zebra rock hand specimen at the National Arboretum anniversary dinner. Image courtesy T. Kapitany.

In early March I spent a week on Norfolk Island, ostensibly a holiday with my wife, Sue, but as you will read later in the newsletter, I also investigated the possibility of obtaining a rock or rocks from Norfolk Island for the NRG. Then, in April, Sue and I spent a couple of weeks in New Zealand—another holiday, but the idea of a New Zealand rock for the NRG was discussed with Maori Elders and geological colleagues. More on that in the next newsletter.

I hope you enjoy the selection of rock stories in the rest of the newsletter. If you have a good rock story to tell, please let me know and perhaps we can include it in our next newsletter.

William Barton and an ANU quartet performing at the National Arboretum’s 10th anniversary dinner. Image courtesy M. Cooper.