Artworks at the Arboretum

Artwork, bespoke designs and sculptures are integral features of the National Arboretum Canberra’s masterplan and is designed for the enjoyment of all visitors. Artwork is featured throughout the buildings, forests and gardens with many pieces providing additional interpretative information for visitors. Ranging from whimsical to functional, each piece of artwork tells a story and connects to the National Arboretum.

Art Walk – Village Centre

Art is embedded in the Village Centre precinct. Even before you enter the Village Centre, you will encounter beautiful etched glass panels set in the gabion walls of the entrance walkway. Whilst impressive during the day, the imagery is best seen at night when the back lit images glow in the dark.

Under the awe-inspiring soaring beams of the Village Centre lies the ‘Tree Ring’ Made from Australian timbers which lies inlaid into the floor and represents the average grown truck diameter of the trees planted at the National Arboretum. While you are in the Visitors Centre explore the National Arboretum story and additional information about the living tree collection in bespoke, handcrafted interpretative display units.

Children can also delight in identifying the cut out images of animals in the steel gate at the Pod Playground and explore the gardening images in the tall steel umbrellas within the Canberra Discovery Garden.

Visitors are encouraged to visit the National Bonsai and Penjing Collection of Australia to see ‘living artworks’ created by many of Australia’s best bonsai artists.

The art works in the Village Centre precinct are accessible and on level ground for the enjoyment of all visitors.

Art Walk - Dairy Farmers Hill

A leisurely walk through four forests to Dairy Farmers Hill lookout will reward you with magnificent panoramic views. The Armillary Sphere Sundial, made by Hendrik Forster from patinated brass and stainless steel, sits proudly atop the hill next to the iconic sculpture ‘Nest 111’.

Wander along the path a little further to see etched leaves in the curved stainless steel hand rail at the lookout platform which represent species found within the National Arboretum. A bench seat at the lookout allows for rest and contemplation under the shade of mature Monterey pines.

Allow 40 minutes for a 1.6km return walk from the Village Centre or one hour to complete the 2km Dairy Farmers Hill circuit. Are you short on time? You can also park the car at the Dairy Farmers Hill carpark and walk along the accessible sealed path.

To explore the forests and grounds you may take a self-guided tour by using the map of the Arboretum or join a themed walking tour hosted by our friendly volunteer guides. Please visit what we offer page to find out when the next themed forest walk is on.


Armillary Sphere Sundial on Dairy Farmers Hill

Sundial on rockSundial at dusk

The Armillary Sphere Sundial on Dairy Farmers Hill was presented to Canberra on behalf of the people of Queanbeyan to celebrate Canberra's Centenary and Queanbeyan's 175th birthday.

It is a tangible reminder of the unique bond between Canberra and Queanbeyan and was unveiled by Katy Gallagher MLA, Chief Minister of the Australian Capital Territory and Cr Tim Overall, Mayor Queanbeyan City Council on the 27th September 2013.

Made by Hendrik Forster, the sundial is made from patinated brass and stainless steel.

How to read the sundial

Running through the centre of the sphere sits a rod (gnomon), perpendicular to the sun's position on the equinox, and its shadow on the numbered scale inside the sphere indicates Local Solar Time (Local Apparent Time).

Local Solar Time differs from Eastern Standard Time by two factors: the longitude and the Equation of Time, and a third during Eastern Summer Time.

Gate in Pod Playground

Pod gatePod playground

The steel gate in Pod Playground was designed by Simone Bliss from TCL Landscape Architects, who designed the playground. It shows delightful interpretations of many different types of Australian animals and plants, including wombats, emus, kangaroos, kookaburras, echidnas, lady beetles, platypi, bilbies, possums and the extinct Tasmanian tiger (Thylacine). Manufactured by HDM Metal Pty Ltd.

Hand rail on Dairy Farmers Hill

Handrail with viewHandrail closeSun on the rail

The curved stainless steel handrail on Dairy Farmers Hill illustrates the 100 leaves representing the 100 forests eventually to be found within the Arboretum (94 forests have been planted to date). Each of the leaves were hand-drawn and then etched into the stainless steel handrail.

The handrail was designed by David Lancashire Designs, and inspired by the brief to "create a memorable jewellery-like piece which encapsulates the National Arboretum Canberra project."

The detail and definition of each leaf and the play of light across the surface of the etching provides shimmering images, further enhanced by the changing seasons.

Lights in the entrance to the Village Centre

Glass panels at nightGinkgo close up purpleGlass panelGinkgo close up

The etched glass panels in the stone gabion walls lining the entrance to the Village Centre tell the story of plant evolution and the formation of coal seams. They include fossil imagery and information about each of the species that have been planted at the Arboretum, including Ginkgo leaves. One of the works references a 100-million year-old bee fossil found in Burmese Amber.

Designed by David Lancashire Designs, the panels use photographic imagery and ceraphic screenprints on the face of the glass. Spectacular lighting makes the display come to life.

Tree Ring in the Village Centre

Children at tree ringTree Rings

One of the first things you see as you enter the Village Centre is the magnificent Tree Ring floor feature, created from reclaimed Australian timbers.

A beautiful artwork crafted by highly-skilled wood artists; all the timbers used in the tree ring are native hardwoods, except Cypress pine (Callitris species), which is a native softwood.

The Tree Ring represents the average grown trunk diameter of every tree planted in the National Arboretum, so a visitor walking across the tree ring experiences a sense of the scale of the trees once fully grown.

The giant sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum) with a mature trunk width of six metres forms the outer ring of the design with smaller tree cross-sections nested within it.

As many forests in the Arboretum are endangered species, their timbers have been represented in the Tree Ring by reclaimed Australian hardwoods.

The Tree Ring was designed by Thylacine and crafted by Mick Raynes. The inner ring section, approximately 1.6 m in diameter, was crafted by members of the Albury-Wodonga Woodcrafters.

Umbrellas in Discovery Garden

UmbrellasShadows from umbrellaUmbrella cut outsUmbrellas from above

Designed by David Lancashire Designs, these large 3m diameter steel umbrellas were water jet-cut with images that reflect the variety of forms, shapes, colours, smells and textures in the educational Discovery Garden.

As the sun moves through the sky, so the shadows cast from the water-cut umbrellas move across the garden beds, adding to the experience for visitors as they walk through, enjoy and learn from the garden.