National Arboretum Canberra

Mununja the Butterfly Garden

Mununja Garden openingMununja the Butterfly Garden depicts a dreamtime story of the Ngunawal people, the custodians of the land that includes Canberra and the site of the National Arboretum.

The layout, colour and shapes of the garden reference the geometric scales on butterfly wings, in particular the Orchard swallowtail butterfly (Papilio aegeus), and the Common crow butterfly (Euploea core), both found along the east coast of Australia.

Plants have been selected to provide habitat and food for butterflies, and for their cultural significance, with an emphasis on plants that grow naturally in the ACT and surrounds.

As well as providing private contemplative spaces and public space for functions, the garden provides opportunities for cultural dialogue, education, indigenous engagement and inspiration.

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. Gunga possessed great powers and would always prevent Mununja 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 landscape celebrate the diversity of plant and animal species in the environment before non-indigenous people settled there. The story of Mununja has been told for generations and will probably be told for many more.

The story of Mununja the Butterfly, as told by Ngunawal elder Don Bell, has been provided by Tyronne Bell. Other traditional custodians have also been consulted to ensure appropriate depiction of cultural intellectual property, via Charles Solomon at Garawana Creative.

Generously donated by the Mackay and Waldren Families.

Designed by Jim Fogarty for Garawana Creative. Constructed by Able Landscaping Pty Ltd in 2017.

Mununja Garden when looking north

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