Authors: Chris Lewis and Michelle Cooper, GSA ACT Division committee

Extract from National Rock Garden Newsletter No. 18, October 2019

The morning and early afternoon of Sunday 14 July in the nation’s capital was bracing. The maximum temperature for the day reached a balmy 8.7°C; however, with the wind chill it felt closer to -1°C. This did not stop around 20 enthusiastic members, friends and family from the GSA and the Friends of the National Rock Garden from braving the elements to attend the ACT Division’s first activity of the year.

Brad Pillans (Chair NRG Steering Committee, sitting on specimen and plaque rock the Mount Painter Volcanics) addressing members at the NRG. Image courtesy Chris Lewis.

And what was the draw-card on this particular morning? For some it was a chance to see the rocks at the National Rock Garden (NRG) for the very first time, for others the chance to get some fresh air while enjoying the remarkable specimens that comprise the Federation Rock display and the company of similarly-interested individuals. Those in attendance were provided with a walking tour of the NRG by Matt Townsend, of the NRG Steering Committee, who spoke about the Federation Rocks and several other rocks in the collection. Did you know that the Moruya Tonalite, a large piece of which is on display, was used for facings on the Sydney Harbour Bridge?

Matt Townsend (centre-back) tells the story of the Bendigo metasandstone (Federation Rock of Victoria). Image courtesy Michelle Cooper.

NRG Director Brad Pillans also outlined the Steering Committee’s plans for expansion of the NRG which is working on plans for an Interim Gallery Display, a proof of concept display which would be created in the south east corner of the NRG site. The Interim Gallery Display will have rock exhibits grouped into Themes, which unify and contextualise the rock exhibits in time and space, grouped in a logical order along a meandering, closed-loop pathway. A space in the centre of the feature will have a display, explaining the exhibit. The NRG Steering Committee are currently preparing a comprehensive Works Application for submission to the National Capital Authority and, subject to approval of the application, hope to install the first rocks in the Interim Gallery Display later this year.

Attendees examine a specimen of alunite from Buladelah at the NRG

To achieve this goal the NRG continues to seek potential corporate and individual sponsors to help build the collection. You can read more about plans for the Interim Gallery Display in the April 2019 edition of the NRG newsletter.

At the conclusion of the walking tour, attendees were invited to coffee/lunch up the hill at Sprout Café, at the National Arboretum Canberra. Pleasant conversation over a meal, with a great view out over the NRG site, Black Mountain and Lake Burley Griffin, was a great way to end the afternoon.