National Arboretum Canberra


Engineers Australia

The National Arboretum Canberra is proud to partner with Engineers Australia, the peak representative body for the engineering profession. Engineers Australia sponsors Forest 41, the Freefall Pin Oak Forest, planted in 2009 at the National Arboretum Canberra.

Pin oak 'Freefall' Forest 41

Engineers Australia has a long tradition of planting trees in the National Capital and in 2009, Engineers Australia commemorated its 90th anniversary by sponsoring the Pin Oak Forest in the National Arboretum Canberra; becoming the first organisation to sponsor a forest at the new Arboretum. 

Mr Jon Stanhope, Chief Minister of the ACT, joined with members of Engineers Australia and Dr Robert Boden OAM to plant the first Pin oak trees in Forest 41 at the Arboretum on Tuesday 19 May 2009:

From left to right: Mr Peter Taylor, Chief Executive, Engineers Australia; Mr Tom Brimson, President Canberra Division, Engineers Australia; Mr Peter Godfrey, National President, Engineers Australia; Chief Minister Jon Stanhope; Mr John Mackay, Chair of the Board of Governors of the Arboretum. 2009.
From left to right: Mr Peter Taylor, Chief Executive, Engineers Australia; Mr Tom Brimson, President Canberra Division, Engineers Australia; Mr Peter Godfrey, National President, Engineers Australia; Chief Minister Jon Stanhope; Mr John Mackay, Chair of the Board of Governors of the Arboretum. 2009.

Forest 41 is about 600 Quercus palustris 'Freefall' trees, commonly called the Pin oak 'Freefall'. It is one of Canberra's most outstanding trees.  With its straight trunk reaching to 30 metres it is an excellent street tree, growing along Torrens Street in Braddon, La Perouse Street and Stuart Avenue in Griffith.

Pin oaks' autumn colour is spectacular, but unfortunately the dead leaves are carried right through the winter and do not shed until the new buds burst in spring.

In 1965, Dr Robert Boden OAM began developing a cultivar of the Pin oak which would behave like most other oak trees and properly defoliate, ie. lose their leaves, after the autumn show.  The Pin oak 'Freefall' cultivar is the outstanding result of his research, a tree now grown and distributed around Australia.

Chief Minister Jon Stanhope and Dr Robert Boden OAM 2009
Chief Minister Jon Stanhope and Dr Robert Boden OAM 2009

Freefall Experience

In celebration of Canberra's Centenary in 2013, Engineers Australia, Canberra Division launched the Freefall Experience – a national design ideas competition for a showcase installation within the Pin Oak forest at the Arboretum.

The Freefall Experience Design Ideas Competition attracted entries from across Australia. The winning entry by Queensland firm, Bligh Tanner, was titled Freefall and inspired by the Australian engineering achievement, the Cochlear Implant. 

Freefall Experience 

Engineers Australia has appointed two national leaders as Patrons to realise the dream of design, development and construction of the winning entry, Freefall:

  • Professor Brian Schmidt, Laureate Fellow at the Australian National University and 2011 Nobel Prize Winner
  • Dr Chris Roberts, CEO and President of Cochlear Implants Limited.

The Freefall installation is a concept that could potentially be a feature destination within Forest 41 at the National Arboretum Canberra. Engineers Australia are seeking the funds to construct the Freefall installation from a range of contributors including corporate sponsorship, community donations and through the engineering sector.

It is proposed that the installation will be completed by 2019 to celebrate the 100 year anniversary of Engineers Australia as a national organisation.

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