National Arboretum Canberra

Mununja the Butterfly Garden

Mununja Garden openingOn 9 November, the Minister for Territory and Municipal Services, Shane Rattenbury, announced the concept for the new Mununja the Butterfly Garden. The garden depicts Mununja the Butterfly,

a dreamtime story of the Ngunawal people, the custodians of the land that includes Canberra and the site of the National Arboretum.  

Mununja the Butterfly is the story of a young Aboriginal girl who was changed into a butterfly so that she could avoid marrying the evil Gunga. He possessed great powers and would always prevent her from marrying the boy she loved. With the help of Narja, the good spirit butterfly, Mununja was able to remain near her family and her country forever, as a beautiful butterfly.

Set on the banks of the Burrinjuck River, the characters and scene celebrate the diversity of plant andanimal species in the environment before non-indigenous people settled there. The story of Mununjahas been told for generations and will probably be told for many more.

Mununja the Butterfly Garden will be the second garden to be developed in the much anticipated Gallery of Gardens where a total of up to seven gardens will be developed in future.

The layout, colour and shapes of the garden reference the geometric shapes or scales seen on butterfly wings, in particular Papilio aegeus commonly known as the Orchard Swallowtail Butterfly, and Euploea core or Common Crow Butterfly, both found along the east coast of Australia.

The central lawn allows for open space and a marquee for private events. There will be various sitting areas as well as plenty of shade and links to the surrounding environment.

The shade structure references the body of a butterfly and two floating seats will be painted in a colour matched to the soft blue scales on the Common Crow Butterfly wings.

Plants have been selected for cultural significance and for their relevance in providing habitat and food source for butterflies. There is a strong emphasis on plants that grow naturally in the ACT area and surrounds.

As well as providing private contemplative spaces and public space for functions, the garden serves to provide cultural dialogue, education, opportunity for indigenous engagement, and inspiration for all gardeners.

It is expected that construction will commence in mid 2016.

Mununja Garden when looking north 

The Arboretum would like to acknowledge the generous donation made by John and Colette Mackay which has added to the pool of funds available for projects like this.

The story of Mununja the Butterfly has been provided and approved by Mr Bell and consultation has taken place with traditional custodians to ensure appropriate depiction of cultural intellectual property.

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