The National Arboretum Canberra was opened this morning at a spectacular dawn ceremony by ACT Chief Minister Katy Gallagher, Minister for Regional Australia, Regional Development and Local Government, Simon Crean, and ACT Senator Kate Lundy, representing Prime Minister Julia Gillard.
Regional Australia Minister Simon Crean said the $20 million provided by the Commonwealth for the Arboretum showcases the strong and still growing partnership between the Commonwealth and ACT Government.
"A project of great historical significance, today marks the realisation of a concept first envisioned in Walter and Marion Griffin's plan for Canberra which won an international design competition in 1912," Mr Crean said.
"Their plan envisaged establishing an international Arboretum to the west of the lake.
"The fires of 2001 and 2003, which impacted the pine plantation which formerly occupied the site, presented the opportunity to progress this vision.
"No attraction in the ACT complements the notion of the 'bush capital' and garden city better than the Arboretum."
ACT Chief Minister Katy Gallagher said 40,000 trees across 100 forests have been planted on the 250 hectare site, with many of the trees being threatened species.
"The National Arboretum site has emerged from the ashes of devastating bushfires, to be transformed into a place of beauty, tranquillity, recreation, research and learning.
"With Canberra's changing seasons and the continual growth of the forests, a visit to the Arboretum will be a different experience each time. As well as the majestic views across Canberra, the Village Centre's range of interactive displays reveal the stories, people, wildlife and science of the Arboretum's rare, endangered and symbolic forests.
"The opening of the Arboretum is a fantastic way to start Canberra's Centenary year. 2013 will be a year of celebrating what we have achieved as a city in this comparatively short time.
"I would like to thank the many people, volunteers, contractors, staff and organisations involved in the Arboretum since its inception, as well as the Australian Government for its generous financial contribution. I particularly would like to acknowledge the vision of former ACT Chief Minister Jon Stanhope for pursuing this project, for without his steadfast commitment, this ambitious project would not have been realised."
ACT Senator Kate Lundy said that as well as the forests, visitors will be able to enjoy sculptures, a cafe and shop, the National Bonsai and Penjing Collection, walking trails and guided tours, The Canberra Discovery Garden, inspirational architecture, a children's play space (open in April 2013), picnic areas and lookouts to some of Canberra's most spectacular views.
"There will also be significant research undertaken at the Arboretum, with the Australian National University studying the impacts of climate change and how trees respond to changes in temperature and rainfall," Senator Lundy said.
"It is an honour to be present at the opening of the Arboretum and I, my fellow Canberrans and indeed the nation look forward to seeing the forests grow over the coming years and decades into a place we can all be proud of."
A special community open day event will be held tomorrow (Saturday 2 February 2013) from 10 am to 3 pm. It will feature live music throughout the day as well as interactive workshops, talks and art activities.
The Arboretum will be open seven days a week every day of the year. The Village Centre, with a visitor display and cafe, will be open 9 am to 4 pm daily (except for Christmas Day).
For more information visit www.nationalarboretum.act.gov.au or call 13 22 81.
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