5. Promoting Australian Plants

5.1 Interpretation and Information Services

Aim: To encourage people of all ages and backgrounds to learn about and value Australian plants while enjoying their visit to the Gardens.


The Gardens provide opportunities for people of all ages, abilities and backgrounds to learn about and enjoy Australia’s flora through information and interpretive programs.

The Visitor Centre is the prime point of contact for visitors to the Gardens and staff are available there to answer visitors’ questions about the Gardens. A shop, occupied and operated under a licence granted by the Director of National Parks, also forms part of the Centre. Although surveys show that around 40 per cent of visitors make use of the Visitor Centre, the proportion would be higher if the Centre was better integrated into the main pedestrian flow patterns into the Gardens proper and would improve the revenue potential of the shop (see Chapter 8).

The Visitor Centre also provides a venue for exhibitions covering a wide range of topics such as vegetation types, plant groups, animal-plant interactions, human uses of plants, conservation and botanical art. Where appropriate, these are linked with outdoor activities in the Gardens and supported with printed material and digital media. The exhibitions are also made available, usually in a modified form, to regional botanic gardens or other suitable venues for exhibition.

The CPBR manages the Public Reference Herbarium which is currently located in the Visitor Centre. Visitors and those studying the regional flora are encouraged to use this resource to identify their own plant specimens or collections. Visitors can also leave plant specimens to be identified by the Gardens scientific staff (refer also to Section 4.2).

Leaflets are provided on a range of aspects of the Gardens and Australian plants, including a general guide, self-guided walks, plant groups, facts and figures, memorials and bibliographies. Donations, through an honour system, are requested to cover costs of the information leaflets.

Interpretive signs and descriptive labels along major walking paths supplement the plant identification labels in the Gardens. These signs contain information about the plants and their place in the natural ecosystem or use in past and present human cultures.

The Friends Volunteer Guides have become a significant addition to the information and interpretation programs, providing a positive experience for both the guides and those participating in the tours.


Management Actions

Visitor Centre

See Section 8.2 for development proposals in relation to the Visitor Centre.

Outdoor Interpretation and Orientation

Volunteer Guided Tours

5.2 Education


a) To provide programs and resources for educational institutions, their staff and students; and for the public.

b) To assist people to learn about Australian plants and the environment and to develop skills and interests in horticulture.


The Gardens’ education service prepares and provides learning materials and training to teachers wishing to use the Gardens as a teaching resource. The formal education program is aimed mainly at primary and secondary students. As a result, it is broad-reaching across the curriculum, but has a focus on botany, horticulture and environmental education. There is strong emphasis on cultural studies of the uses of native plants by indigenous and non-indigenous Australians. Education assistants (called Explainers) are recruited and trained to help deliver the program. They are employed on a needs basis to lead groups in educational activities at the Gardens and assist with other education activities.

The Gardens has strong links with local tertiary institutions and encourages their use of its facilities. The ANBG also cooperates with groups such as the University of the Third Age in providing facilities for senior citizens to pursue educational programs. As part of this broad educational program, the Banks Centre provides community education programs including horticulture, special education and programs for seniors.

Work experience placements are also provided for secondary and tertiary students and others within various sections of the organisation.


Management Actions

General Programs

Community Education

Special Education


5.3 The Gardens Library

Aim: To support the mission of the Gardens by the provision of timely and high quality information services.


The Gardens Library is an integral part of the Gardens, developing with the Gardens under various management arrangements of the last forty years. The Library is currently managed as a branch of the Environment Australia Library and shares its catalogue, which is accessible through the Web, with the Environment Australia Library.

The Library provides services to staff and volunteers of the Gardens, and its resources are also available to related institutions and members of the public. The Library collections include books, journals, maps and multi-media materials.

An archival collection including published and unpublished material relating to the history and activities of the Gardens is held in the Library, as is a collection of rare books and special editions. The Australian Biological Resources Study (ABRS) publications are held as a discrete collection.

Well-established networks for loans and exchange of information operate with the CSIRO Black Mountain Library, together with libraries of other major Australian botanic gardens, and through membership of the Council on Botanical and Horticultural Libraries and the Environment Librarians Network.

The Library participates in the Gardens Volunteer program, accepting and assisting volunteers as part of the management program.


Management Actions

Access to the Library and Library Services

Library Services

Collection Management

5.4 Photograph Management

Aim: To further develop the collection of photographs of Australian plants and their habitats to promote Australian plants, their conservation and cultural values.


The Gardens has an active policy of building a collection of photographs of all Australian plants. Photographs are taken by staff and are sought from a range of photographers throughout Australia.

Photographs showing the development of the Gardens, horticultural practices, examples of landscape design and other images used for educational purposes or historical records supplement the collection. Data from the photographs are linked with those of the herbarium and living collections through the Gardens computer database.

Original photographs are not released from the collection but duplicates or digital images are supplied to publishers and loaned for lectures or similar purposes. Access to the collection is granted to individuals and organisations to promote interest in our native flora and, where the Commonwealth’s copyright is administered by the Gardens, the Gardens licenses publishers to reproduce photographs from the collection. There is a charge for this service (refer to Appendix 6).

The Web is now the prime mechanism for disseminating the scope of the collection to prospective users. Descriptions of all photographs are accessible through the Web and low-resolution images are gradually being made available for viewing.


Management Actions

Promotion of the Collection

Sources for Photographs for the Collection

Commercial Access to the Collection

(refer also to Appendix 6)

Public Access to the Collection

Scientific Access to the Collection

5.5 Recreation

Aim: To encourage visitor use that is consistent with the educational and horticultural values of botanic gardens.


For many visitors recreation is an important part of their visit to the Gardens. Enjoyment of the site fosters positive community attitudes toward botanic gardens and Australian plants and motivates visitors to learn from the setting and make use of the Gardens botanical and educational resources.

The Gardens organises a variety of outdoor recreational activities, including musical performances and theatre, as well as particular activities for the young. These programs endeavour to meet the needs of people with a wide range of ages and abilities. Holiday programs for children using games or making creatures out of seeds and fruits, for example often link or merge with more formalised educational programs. Catering for community interests such as art and craft, entertainment and exercise form part of planning suitable recreational experiences for visitors to the Gardens’ site.

The Gardens Bookshop and Café provide services for visitors (see also Chapter 9) to enhance the pleasure of their visit and reinforce the experience with a souvenir or literature. Marketing these facilities is also an important part of attracting visitors to the Gardens. A range of other visitor services including private functions (particularly weddings) and hire of facilities is part of the Gardens’ function and helps support the institution and its programs through revenue enhancement. Activities which do not interfere with the enjoyment of other visitors to the Gardens are encouraged.

The EPBC Act (s.354(1)(f)) prohibits commercial actions in Commonwealth reserves except in accordance with a management plan. The EPBC Regulations contain provisions that may be relevant to the carrying on of recreational and associated activities in the Gardens for example r.12.39 prohibits collection of money or goods as gifts from the public. Recreational activities that are prohibited by the Regulations may be carried out under a permit issued by the Director of National Parks, or in accordance with a management plan.


Management Actions

5.6 Marketing the Gardens through Advertising and Promotion

Aim: To increase appropriate use of the Gardens by the community through promotional activities.


Strategies aimed at raising public awareness of Australia’s flora and the unique nature of the site have been implemented to increase visitor numbers. An annual program of paid advertising is undertaken. The Gardens also contributes to a variety of publications, including local newspapers, gardening journals, specialist periodicals, industry newsletters, radio and television advertisements. The content promotes the Gardens in general, and any special events and programs. Information displays have been used to illustrate Gardens activities at local events such as Floriade and Canberra Festival, and at other venues interstate.

The Gardens regularly participates in activities, such as local and interstate promotions undertaken by the National Capital Authority and Canberra Events and Tourism Corporation. It also works cooperatively with other attractions and neighbours such as Canberra Nature Park, in developing and promoting joint programs, such as the Black Mountain Summit Walking Trail.

Promotional videos have been produced for national distribution to television stations throughout Australia and permanent displays have been positioned in prominent Canberra tourist attractions.

The Gardens has expanded its marketing base by participating as an official event in such programs as the National Science Festival and Floriade. Promotional activities associated with these and other local events have included radio quiz programs with Gardens-related questions and the provision of Gardens’ products or services as prizes and give-aways. With the cooperation of the Friends of the Gardens, a poster featuring bush foods was developed and has proved a popular promotional item.

The Gardens’ continued membership in the National Capital Attractions Association places it in an excellent position to maintain strategic partnerships with other key institutions concerned with encouraging tourism to the region.

In recent years, efforts have been made to promote the Gardens through concerts and special events. Generous media sponsorship has assisted in promoting Gardens programs on television and radio.

Interviews and editorials in local and national radio programs, and in newspapers, have generated interest in the Gardens and Australia’s plants. Media releases issued by the Gardens have been well received.


Management Actions


5.7 Community Outreach

Aim: To maintain active links and involvement with the community at a local, national and international level.


The Gardens recognises that there is a need for strong community involvement in its activities and that many people wish to actively support its work by contributing their time and effort. It has actively and successfully encouraged the development of a support group, the Friends of the Australian National Botanic Gardens Inc., which was established in 1990 and incorporated in 1992.

The Friends is a non-profit community-based organisation whose goals are to:

The Gardens continues to support the Friends in a number of their endeavours. The Friends receive promotional space in the Visitor Centre, office space, a lounge for their members, space for the Craft Group, a propagation area for the Growing Friends, and support for the production of their newsletter. The Director of the Gardens and the liaison officer are ex-officio members of the Friends Council. The Friends also invite the staff of the Gardens to elect one committee member to represent the views of staff on the Council.

Volunteers play a valuable role in the work of the Gardens. The most obvious role of volunteers from a visitor’s point of view is the Volunteer Guides Service, which provides regular tours of the Gardens. Volunteers also contribute a substantial amount of their time to many of the Herbarium and Seedbank activities. Volunteers have also produced the interpretive handout sheet In Flower this Week in printed form since 1985 and as a website since 1993. Recognition of the work of volunteers during the International Year of Volunteers is planned through the hosting of the National Volunteer Guides Conference and the release of the daisy Helichrysum Helping Hand’ in conjunction with Volunteering Australia to celebrate volunteer achievement.

In May 1992, volunteers working at the Gardens came under the umbrella of the Commonwealth Employees’ Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988, which provides for workers compensation insurance in the event of any mishap in the workplace.

For those people who cannot get to the Gardens due to distance or lack of mobility, the Gardens provides an active website. This site carries a wide range of information about the botany and horticulture of Australian plants, photographs of Australia’s flora and a weekly update of what is in flower. About 6000 pages are accessed from the Gardens website each day from more than 100 countries.


Management Actions

Friends of the Australian National Botanic Gardens Inc


World Wide Web (The Web)


Updated 15 December, 2004 , webmaster, ANBG (anbg-info@anbg.gov.au)