Marita Bradshaw, National Rock Garden Steering Committee

Published in the National Rock Garden Newsletter No. 27, May 2024

The NRG is a strong supporter of the annual Canberra and Region Heritage Festival ( having participated over many years despite disruptions of COVID-19 and adverse weather. Happily, 2024 has been a golden autumn in Canberra and tours of the current site have been well patronised during this year’s festival. The festival theme was Connections and visitors were encouraged to connect with deep time at the National Rock Garden where some of the rocks are more than 2 billion years old (Brockman Iron Formation). Many took the opportunity to connect with the past lives of clams, trilobites and corals, inhabitants of tropical reefs that once grew in Canberra (Canberra limestone) and inland Queensland (Chinaman Creek Limestone). Descriptions of the rocks on display can be found at

Brad Pillans showing Heritage Festival visitors the giant clams (megalodont bivalves) in the Chinaman Creek Limestone, one of the Federation Rocks at the current NRG site. Brockman Iron Formation is in the foreground and Canberra’s autumn colours in the background. Image courtesy M. Bradshaw.
A variety of interesting hand specimens on display during the Heritage Festival event. Image courtesy M. Bradshaw.

In addition to the self-guided tours advertised in the Heritage Festival brochure, Brad Pillans and I were on site for the last day of the festival, Sunday 28 April. There was a steady stream of visitors all day with more than 50 people from seniors to young enthusiasts, coming to see the big rocks and learn about our geological heritage. Hand specimens of other interesting rocks were also on display. Some visitors, eager to see more, walked up to the storage area to preview other big rocks awaiting the move to the new site. The response to our Heritage Festival event shows that there is a ready audience for the new expanded National Rock Garden which is now taking shape at the National Arboretum Canberra.

Visitors to the National Rock Garden during the Canberra and Region Heritage Festival investigating the rocks in storage. Image courtesy M. Bradshaw.