In January 2003 Canberra was consumed by a “fire tornado”
Within 10 hours 4 people died, 490 were injured and over 500 homes destroyed.
A large number of suburbs lost power due to the fires and high winds, many suburbs were also without communications and water.
The following day, on the 19th of January, the Mt Stromlo Observatory was destroyed. The observatory was not only a highly active observatory, it was also historically significant on a national level.
In total the fires burnt 164,000 hectares, which was close to 70% of the Territories total area. (information “Canberra bushfire web page)
These bushfires that ravaged Canberra in 2003 have been the catalyst for the creation of the National Arboretum Canberra envisaged by Walter Burley Griffin so many years ago. It provides an opportunity to conserve threatened species, a place for community recreation and a valuable resource for ongoing education and research.
The goal is to create a place of outstanding beauty, of international standard and interest, that is a destination and recreational resource in its own right. The Arboretum and Gardens is being developed on a 250-hectare site in the Greenhills Forest and boasts spectacular views across Lake Burley Griffin.
Looking toward Lake Burley Griffin
290ha site originally pine forest
This is all that is left of the original 290ha pine forest plantation. The fire was stopped and contained along that line.
The concept was developed to plant 100 forests each forest containing one species of tree. The trees were selected on strict criteria, including rarity, degree of environmental threat to the species, country of origin, temperate sources, whether they are suitable for Canberra’s climate, distinctiveness and diversity. Each forest being approximately 2ha.
Eventually, as the trees grow, it will give a total emersion experience as you will be able to walk along the trails through the forests.
Two large stands of tree were spared when the fire raged through. A Cork Oak plantation from 1917 and a grove of Himalayan Cedars from approximately the same time. to walk through these plantations gives a feeling for what this Arboretum will eventually be like.
Trees showing the marks of were the cork has been harvested.
Entering the Visitors centre
But to go back to our visit. It was a glorious day with the feeling of spring in the air. The visitors centre is large and impressive and inside many display cabinets explain the concept and history of the Arboretum.
Banksia cones create hide away places for the children
The Pod is a unique children’s playground and the children were loving it.
Oh what is this…?
Acorns to explore
In a building next to the village centre is the National Bonsai and Penjing Collection of Australia it is a unique collection of the finest miniature trees and forests.
The village centre sits on a hill surrounded by celebrity terraces. These will eventually be used to plant trees by celebrities.
The village centre, the building in front houses the Bonsai collection.
From the top of Dairy Farmers Hill the size of the building is impressive. Also on the Dairy Farmers Hill is this sculpture.
Look closely and you can see the nest is made of tools and machinery parts. It dominates the horizon.
In the opposite direction is Black Mountain dominated by Telstra Tower. We visited that iconic feature a short while ago. (Check it out here)
The building on the right is “The Margaret Whitlam Pavilion” that is used for weddings, concerts and conferences.
It has been a very interesting and enjoyable day, 4 hours have flown by and it is time to head home, but one last point of interest to look at is the Cedar forest.
Some of the trees have been given a warm, woolly knitted scarf to protect them from the winter blasts.
The sun filters through the trees and spreads fingers of silver. Another decade and this Arboretum will be all a forest of maturing trees. Will we get back to see it I wonder?
Jack has done a post about the amazing sculptures, especially the “Wide Brown Land” sculpture that is in my heading. To find out more about it click here.