afterDARK Garden Tour

Jun 4, 2014

candle lit garden path

Last week was busy and full of delightful Visit Canberra human brochure events. My week of discovery was capped off on Friday evening with a magical twilight tour of the Australian National Botanic Gardens (ANBG). I am embarrassed to admit that in my four years living back in Canberra, it was my first time visiting the exquisite location. It has been on my radar for a while to attend either a family sunset cinema session or summer sounds concert but somehow it has eluded me.

Dressed for the evening Canberra chill, I was set to experience two of the popular thematic garden sections, the Rainforest and Red Centre afterDARK.
Located just six minutes from Canberra City, I was surprised how immediately tranquil and quiet it felt upon driving into the gates and getting out of the car. Devoted to the growth, study and promotion of Australian floral diversity, the ANBG is spread over 90 hectares in Canberra’s Black Mountain's lower slopes where they have created a truly peaceful and calm oasis. Some of the other more ANBG experienced humans revealed that the cafe onsite was their favourite Canberra location for breakfast. I can see that with the wall to ceiling glass windows, the view offered over breakfast and the serenity would be a mighty powerful draw card.  Another tip my fellow humans shared with me, was that on a hot Canberra day the place to be is enjoying the shade under the canopy of Rainforest Gully!
After a refreshing native Australian evergreen Lilly Pilly cordial, (a first for me) we were split into groups and set off by torchlight with a knowledgeable guide up front and a shepherd bringing up the rear to ensure there were no strays left behind. Our tour walked leisurely through the Rainforest Gully stopping on occasion to admire and discuss the success ANBG has had cultivating different rainforest flora that are not indigenous to the region. One of my favourite parts of the tour was when the guide dimmed the torches and the group stood in silence for a minute allowing our senses to take in the surrounds.

Our tour continued through to the newly constructed Red Centre Garden. Our walk through gave me a sense of the dramatic natural beauty that the Red Centre in Australia has and an appreciation for its unique desert plants and landscapes. We concluded the evening in the beautiful Red Centre Garden grazing on Kangaroo Ragout and Bush Tomato Soup under the stars.

Not really one for gardening or flora, I honestly did not expect to enjoy the discovery event at ANBG as much as I did. The few tranquil hours I spent there has left me wanting to experience more and to bring along my family next time. Perhaps we will take on board the suggestion and come back for breakfast at the onsite cafe or I am tempted to attend one of the upcoming AfterDARK Firefly Tours, where Tweeny and the husband can head out as I did on a fascinating after dark discovery, exploring the various garden habitats and habitants. Where else in the heart of a city can I take my family from a rainforest to a desert?’

Read more at Australian National Botanic Gardens