Date of Visit – March 2019
I enjoyed the first day of my recent Canberra trip wheeling around one of our capitals more recent attractions – the National Arboretum – currently 250 hectares of around 100 types of tree vegetation from all around the world arranged and planned so beautifully.
Our National Arboretum is a relatively new attraction and is set on the side of a hill in Weston Creek in the Molonglo Valley .It’s forests and the surrounding back drop of Lake Burley Griffin can be easily viewed and experienced from paved or finely compacted gravel paths and inside the vast and modern glassed Village Centre building over a bite to eat.
Forest Drive, off Tuggeranong Parkway, Weston Creek ACT 2611
02 6207 8484
The last catastrophic bushfires of 2001 and 2003 left a small patch of Himalayan Cedars previously grown for commercial purposes. These have remained and new forests have now been created for research, education and awe inspiring beauty. The first Arboretum tree planting was the Sydney Camden White Gum, this and subsequent groupings have been determined by plants of either national significance, conservation reasons and/or scientific purposes.
Our National Arboretum has many smaller gardens and walkways to immerse yourself in the delights of such varied flora.
An absolute highlight for me was the Bonsai or Penjing collection. It is such a magical setting and just outside the architecturally exquisite Village Centre where we had a lovely light lunch and coffee overlooking the stunning beauty of the fledgling forest plantings.
From the many vantage points of the Arboretum can be seen a large sculpted statement “ Wide Brown Land” that sits majestically on high; an artistic ode to Dorothea Mackellar’s famous poem My Country.
Website and Booking
The website has nearly adequate information on accessibility with mention of the car parks available on the ‘Getting Here’ tab and the specific ‘Disability Access’ tab that advises the surfaces of the paths and walkways. The Arboretum states that it has 3 wheelchairs available for free loan but makes no description or mention of the accessible toilets.
Car parking is easy with 11 disabled car parks up near the entrance and 3 more outside the Margaret Whitlam Pavilion Function Centre.
Dining and Entertainment
The arboretum sports the private function pavillion named after former first lady Margaret Whitlam. This must be booked in advance but for general eateries there is a cafe and restaurant within the Town Centre.
If you’re there with small children grab a coffee and step outside to a fully fenced and modern playground with many types of wonderful equipment including fantastically accessible swings and other items. This children’s wonderland also boasts a fine and large accessible toilet facility within it’s safe fenced confines.
Situated in the Village Centre the accessible toilet is modern and functional with the required grab rails and under sink roll in. Disappointingly for a new building, the access is limited as there is no ceiling hoist or electronic opening doors.
The children’s accessible bathroom in the playground is also large and functional and very welcome to the area I’m sure – although no ceiling hoist once again.
I do love a good tree or two and found the whole experience really special and beautiful. My wheel chairing around was not a barrier to anywhere that I found except one small picnic area in the Himalayan Forest.
I thoroughly recommend the National Arboretum to anyone visiting and 6 kms away from the City centre it’s a great place to drop into for a wander and a coffee as a local too.