What is this amazing National Arboretum Canberra?
Prior to 2003, most of the 250-hectare Arboretum site was occupied by pine plantations. However, after the devastating bushfires of 2003, the ACT Government resolved to replant the site as a 'national arboretum'. A design competition was launched in 2004 and the winning design, 100 Forests 100 Gardens, focused on establishing an arboretum to display forests of rare, threatened and/or iconic species from around the world, including Australia. This design also incorporated the cork oak and Himalayan cedar forests, planted early last century, much of which survived the fires. Experimental plantings, research and education were all to be important aspects of this project. Planting began in 2006 and is now mostly complete with just a few forests still to be planted. Already we can see the area evolving into a beautiful patchwork of young forests, many with seasonal interest, displaying new spring growth, flowering, fruiting, autumn colour, shedding bark, attracting birds and insects, so there is always something new to discover. The Arboretum has been open to the public since February 2013. It is located at the western end of Lake Burley Griffin, about 6 km from the centre of Canberra—Australia's national capital. The site is undulating with lookouts, so visitors can enjoy fantastic views, particularly to the east where the Arboretum overlooks the lake and the city.
The map of the National Arboretum Canberra includes all the Arboretum walking trails, Centenary Trail and Bicentennial National Trail. All 104 Forests are numbered on the map and the common name and species of the plantings are included for reference.
The wonderful, architecturally acclaimed, Village Centre is the first destination for most visitors. It offers an information hub, cafe, restaurant and gift shop. It is also the meeting point for guided walks led by our friendly walk guides. The following three attractions are located adjacent to the Village Centre.
The bonsai pavilion, housing the superb National Bonsai and Penjing Collection of Australia. Native and exotic exhibits are rotated through the seasons so there is always something new on show.
Established by ACTEW Water to help Canberra gardeners better understand climate, soils and geology, and assist them in making sustainable water-wise choices. The garden is a series of linked garden rooms including a covered outdoor learning area which facilitates free community workshops, talks and tours, and an interpretive trail which allows visitors to engage in self directed learning and discovery. The garden design and plant selections aim to inspire visitors to develop healthy, water wise gardens in their own backyards through sustainable gardening practices. The Canberra Discovery Garden is located on the event terrace next to the visitors centre at the National Arboretum Canberra, and is open daily 9am to 4pm. Visit ACTEW Water for more information about the Canberra Discovery Garden
The very popular Pod Playground is based on a theme that acknowledges seeds as the beginning of life in the forests. The playground is designed to stimulate imagination and keep children active.
Another attraction is the Southern Tablelands Ecosystems Park (STEP), located in Forest 20, with its special focus on regional biodiversity. It is managed by STEP, a community group, in partnership with the National Arboretum Canberra.
The Central Valley features around 40 ceremonial tree plantings. These have been planted by visiting dignitaries, politicians, sports people and royalty. As the trees grow, it will become a shady zigzag walkway through a diverse range of trees, representing many people and many places from around the world.
There are no entry fees but parking charges apply at the Village Centre. The grounds are open daily from 7:00 am to 5:30 pm (Eastern Standard Time) and 6:00 am to 8:30 pm (Daylight Savings Time). The Village Centre and the National Bonsai and Penjing Collection of Australia are open from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm daily, except Christmas Day.  
For more information, visit the National Arboretum Canberra website.
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