Blue Mountains Botanic Garden, Mount Tomah


Adjournment speech

The Hon. LUKE FOLEY (Leader of the Opposition) [6.55 p.m.]: I speak tonight to mark and celebrate the twenty-fifth anniversary of the opening to the public of the Blue Mountains Botanic Garden at Mount Tomah, in November 1987. This was the first event of the 1988 bicentennial commemorations. The garden is the cool climate garden of the Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust. The Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney is, of course, the most spectacularly sited botanic garden in the world. As such, the virtues of the trust's other botanic gardens at Mount Tomah and Mount Annan are sometimes overlooked. Yet they are not appendages of the Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney; they are magnificent botanic gardens in their own right and wonderful community assets.

When the executive director of the trust, Professor David Mabberley, commenced in his position he initiated an international peer review of the Botanic Gardens and Domain. That review recommended that the trust act to increase the connectedness of the three botanic gardens. But it is the Mount Tomah garden that I wish to speak of tonight. The Wran Labor Government committed to a number of bicentennial projects aimed at strengthening the scientific and cultural institutions of our State, including a new wing for the Art Gallery of New South Wales, a new wing for the Australian Museum, new annexes for the Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney, the botanic garden at Mount Tomah and the native Australian garden at Mount Annan.

The botanic garden was established at Mount Tomah in 1972, 15 years prior to its opening to the public. The then 28 hectares of landscaped gardens were formerly a cut flower farm donated by the owners, Alfred and Effie Brunet, in 1972. The cut flower farm that the Brunets operated from the 1930s supplied Sydney florists specialising in bulbs and other cool climate plants. In the 1960s the Brunets proposed that their land at Mount Tomah should be donated to become an annex of the Royal Botanic Gardens. The Darug Aboriginal communities are the traditional owners of the land on which the Blue Mountains Botanic Garden at Mount Tomah is situated. Tomah is said to be a Darug word for tree fern, a signature plant of the area.

Today the gardens comprise 252 hectares, including the 28 hectares of landscaped gardens, 33 hectares of temperate rainforest, known as the jungle, and a conservation area of 186 hectares. The garden includes a range of the evergreen and deciduous trees from North America selected for their geographic, ecological and horticultural representation. It includes Eurasian woodland, southern hemisphere woodland, conifer species and, of course, Wollemi Pines and the Gondwana Forest Walk. I look forward to visiting the Wollemi Wild Things exhibition this summer, an exhibition of the works of renowned wildlife artist and illustrator Fiona Lumsden. Fiona Lumsden is well known for her posters of the birds of the Blue Mountains. I pay tribute to Rob Smith for his long and distinguished contribution to the botanic garden at Mount Tomah. When Labor Premier Barrie Unsworth opened the Mount Tomah garden to the public in November 1987—25 years ago—he said:

This garden is no mere Bicentennial monument. It will endure to enrich the lives of people for years to come. We hope our generation will be remembered for creating a thing of beauty.

The Blue Mountains Botanic Gardens at Mount Tomah are indeed a thing of beauty. They are a jewel in the crown of our Blue Mountains. I mark and celebrate the twenty-fifth anniversary of their opening to the public.