Eurobodalla Regional Botanic Garden blooms with new events
A two-week celebration of the resilience, beauty and bounty of the South Coast’s spectacular forests is just one great new reason to plan a visit to the Eurobodalla Regional Botanic Garden, which has its own incredible story of resilience following the bushfires and Covid-19 lockdowns.
Nestled in the Mogo State Forest, the Garden was dealt a particularly cruel blow by the bushfires that tore through the South Coast on New Year’s Eve 2019, affecting more than 95 per cent of the 42-hectare site just a week following the completion of a multi-year, $3.3million redevelopment.
Miraculously, most of the new infrastructure was spared by the blaze, which helped to speed up the Garden’s reopening just six months after the bushfires, followed by the official opening of the new Naturescape Gardens by Governor-General David Hurley in October 2021.
Now comes an exciting calendar of 2022 events at the Garden to mark in your diaries.
First off the rank – with tickets selling fast – is the return of Shakespeare in the Garden. To be held on two consecutive evenings, on Saturday 5 March and Sunday 6 March, As You Like It by Victoria’s Essential Theatre group brings all of Shakespeare’s best ideas together in one masterful play of love, betrayal, mischief and foolery.
“We’re really excited to have this incredibly professional theatre company back again for this Covid-safe event,” says Garden Manager Michael Anlezark.
“It’s an outdoor performance in a large area where you bring your own chair or picnic blanket, so everyone can space out safely and still see.”
Next up, coinciding with the Easter school holidays, is mini-festival From the Forest, which will see the Garden pay homage to the important role of forests on our planet – and in our own lives – over two weeks of exhibitions, storytelling, music, workshops, food and more from April 9-24.
“There will be 18 artists exhibiting over 100 works that take inspiration and materials from the forest, which will be for sale, and we’ve also got an amazing public art installation called the Wattle Walk, which has been created by the community,” says Michael.
While some events such as workshops will be ticketed, most of the program including the Wattle Walk, developed in partnership with the University of Wollongong, will be free.
“Among the first plants to bounce back after fire, wattles are a sign of regeneration and and recovery,” Michael explains. “So the installation will be like a remembrance of of that terrible time, and how we’re all moving on from that now as a community.”
Other upcoming events at the Garden include the Australian Association of Friends of Botanic Gardens Biennial Conference on 29 April, with friends of botanic gardens across Australia invited to a stimulating weekend to explore the concepts of resilience and renewal.
School holiday activities are also currently being planned for the July school holidays.
But you don’t need to wait for a special event to visit the Eurobodalla Regional Botanic Garden. Open Wednesday to Sunday from 9am to 4pm, as well as most public holidays and every day of the NSW school holidays, the Garden, which has been heavily replanted during the past year, is free to visit.
Designed to show people how local plants can be used in different styles of gardens, the series of four gardens comprising the Naturescapes Gardens – a cottage garden, formal garden, wildlife garden and coastal garden – have been a particular hit with visitors, says Michael.
“There are plants in there that people wouldn’t normally think of using, and there’s a lot of creativity, which is hopefully giving the community some good ideas for their own gardens,” he says.
There’s also the Sandstone Garden, featuring plants collected under licence from the sandstone plateaus west of Ulladulla, and a Discovery Garden currently scheduled to open in late 2022. Designed to encourage appreciation and connection with the natural world, the new Discovery Garden will replace the Sensory Garden that was tragically destroyed in the Black Summer bushfires.
While repairs to interpretative signage on walking trails is ongoing, all five of the Garden’s walks are also open to enjoy. On the first Sunday of each month, visitors can also opt to join a free guided walk at 11am with a trained volunteer guide. Call the Visitor Centre to book a place, or just turn up.
A destination in itself, the new Visitor Centre houses the Garden Cafe with great views out over the gardens, an Education Hub where visitors can get a glimpse into another world through microscopes, and the Garden shop, stocking unique regionally produced gifts and a range of local plants naturally geared to thrive in the South Coast climate.
Not only are many plants thought to have been lost to the fires now bouncing back, says Michael, but also the Garden’s native wildlife. “We’ve got a really healthy population of kangaroos building up now, as well as swamp wallabies,” he says. “Over 100 bird species have also come back to the Garden.”