The Botanic Gardens and Domain

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We are currently experiencing the pleasures and joys that arrive with the advent of spring.

One of the finest writers who ever lived is George Orwell.

His fame endures today, largely because of the novels Animal Farm and Nineteen eighty-four.

Personally, I am drawn to his non-fiction writings, invariably lucid, uncompromising and utterly scornful of cant and hypocrisy.

He wrote an essay in 1946, Some Thoughts on the Common Toad.

Now when I think of toads, it is usually with the words of the eighteenth century French moralist Nicolas De Chamfort in mind.

He advised that a man should swallow a toad every morning to be sure of not meeting with anything more revolting in the day ahead.

There were many mornings when I set out for work at Sussex Street that I thought of De Chamfort's maxim.

George Orwell, however, noted that while "the toad has never had much of a boost from poets", for him its emergence from underground always heralded the arrival of spring and the pleasures of spring.

Those pleasures are free and available to all.

To paraphrase Orwell, spring is here and they can't stop you enjoying it.

And there are no finer places to enjoy spring than the Botanic Gardens at Sydney, Mount Annan and Mount Tomah.

Next week will mark the tenth anniversary of the Sydney Olympic Games.

The male and female triathlons took place on the first two days of the Sydney Olympics.

I will never forget those events.

After the competitors emerged from their swim in Sydney Harbour at the Man O War steps, the cycling leg took them through the Botanic Gardens.

Our majestic Botanic Gardens, established in 1816, were on display to the world.

I want to pay tribute to the management, staff and volunteers of the Gardens and Domain.

These are public, not private, gardens.

The three gardens and the Domain are administered by the Royal Botanic Gardens & Domain Trust.

One of the principal objects of the Trust is to encourage the use and enjoyment of the Gardens and the Domain by the public.

In the late 1990s I served as a trustee of the Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust.

I learned much about the passionate commitment of the people at the Gardens to the Trust lands, the plant life of Australia, the study of botany and plant conservation.

It was the Wran Labor Government that established the Mount Annan Botanic Garden and the Mount Tomah Botanic Garden.

Tim Entwisle is the Executive Director of the Botanic Gardens and Domain and the Government Botanist.

He is a distinguished Australian research scientist, specialising in the systematics and ecology of non marine algae in this country.

I know that Tim Entwisle and his team are now planning the celebration of the Gardens' bicentenary in 2016.

The Gardens and the Domain have immense educational, historical and recreational value.

We have much to be thankful for in our state.

We are a free, tolerant and harmonious society.

Not the least of our many blessings are our sublime botanic gardens, in the heart of our capital city, publicly owned, accessible to all.