Brad Pillans, Director, and Marita Bradshaw, National Rock Garden Steering Committee

Published in the National Rock Garden Newsletter No. 24, December 2022

The Ngunnawal people are recognised by the ACT Government as the Traditional Custodians of the land in and around Canberra, including the new location of the National Rock Garden within the National Arboretum (see: Accordingly, the NRG Steering Committee has been engaging with several local Elders regarding procedures and ceremonies which may be appropriate for the introduction of rock specimens onto their land.

A specific collaboration has been the development of a design for an Indigenous Welcome Feature at the entrance to the Rock Garden. Together with the Indigenous Elders, we were successful in applying for an ACT Government Environment grant to fund the design of the Welcome Feature, including transport and placement of rocks that will be part of the display.

In further collaboration with Elders, we were also successful in applying for an ACT Heritage grant to provide signage and online content to complement the entrance Welcome Feature. An important part of the online content will be delivered via the Canberra Tracks App, which uses augmented reality technology to enhance visitor experience beyond what is available from standard signs on Canberra self-drive heritage trails. The total amount of the two ACT Government grants is $25,000. The cooperative strategy between our Steering Committee and the Traditional Custodians of the land is an exciting achievement for the NRG project.

Brad Pillans with Rebecca Vassarotti MLA, at the ACT Heritage awards ceremony in All Saints Church. Image courtesy ACT Government.

The awards ceremony to announce successful ACT Heritage grants was held in the historic All Saints Anglican church, which started life as a Gothic Revival style railway station at Rookwood Cemetery in Sydney, before it was moved to Canberra in the 1950s. Rebecca Vassarotti MLA, the ACT Minister for Heritage, presented the awards, after which we had the opportunity to speak with her and her very helpful staffer, Jak O’Brien. In the following weeks, Jak was able to put us in touch with Brian Bathgate, Assistant Director of Land Management in the Transport Canberra & City Services Directorate of ACT Government, who provided us with details of the procedure for seeking permission to acquire rocks from a roadside verge. We have our eye on some large rounded boulders (tors) that might be suitable for inclusion in the Ngunnawal Welcome Feature.

These recent events are encouraging as they demonstrate increased awareness of the goals of our project amongst ACT politicians and government departments.