ACT News

National Botanic Gardens 20-year makeover set to boost Canberra tourism

Politicians are committing funds to a 20-year upgrade of the Australian National Botanic Gardens in the hopes of bringing new infrastructure, attractions and tourists to Canberra, writes Henry Belot.

The Australian National Botanic Gardens are set for a makeover as part of 20-year master plan that hopes to bring new infrastructure, attractions and tourists to the Acton location.

Parliamentary secretary for the environment Senator Simon Birmingham said the plan would be managed by two landscape architecture consortiums, Tonkin Zulaikha Greer and Taylor Cullity Lethlean.

"A key objective is to develop plans for new infrastructure and other attractions to support the growth of the gardens' visitor experiences, educational and recreational opportunities without impacting on the precious living plant collection," he said.

"There's lots of ideas on the table, such as a new visitor centre, cafe, pathways and learning experiences for children. The master plan will seek to identify the ideal mix of facilities for the future."

Mr Birmingham said the master plan would include a new seek bank and horticultural facilities to increase the conversational and research capabilities of the gardens.

"We anticipate phasing in the master plan over a 20-year period with funds from a variety of sources including the Parks Australia capital works budget," he said.

ACT Senator Zed Seselja said the extra funding would ensure the gardens continued to attract tourists and added to Canberra's reputation as the bush capital of Australia.

The landscape architects entrusted with the National Botanic Gardens have experience on the master plan for the National Arboretum and the Adelaide Botanic Gardens, and worked on the Sanctuary at Tidbinbilla.The gardens, which were opened by then prime minister Ben Chifley in 1949, cover 90 hectaresclimbing Black Mountain, of which 40 hectares is cultivated and designated for native plants.