Botanical Window to the Blue Mountains*

The Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Exhibition Centre, aka GBMWHEC, is about to open and we expect it to draw in thousands of new visitors to Mount Tomah Botanic Garden each year. This Centre will be a door, and a window, to the nature of the Blue Mountains.

It’s a joint partnership between the Botanic Gardens Trust and NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service to provide an information and exhibition centre for natural wonders of the Blue Mountains World Heritage area. A complementary Centre focussing on the cultural aspects of the World Heritage area is being built at Katoomba.

The building extends out from the existing Visitor Centre at Mount Tomah Botanic Garden, taking full advantage of the views across the Blue Mountains back to Sydney.

Inside, a company called Mother’s Art have worked with Trust and Parks staff to create an innovative exhibition all about the plants, animals and geology of the mountains.

As Mother’s Art put it, they have created a “simplified interpretation of the natural form”. So you get a sense of the heights of the trees, the intimacy of a slot canyon, as well as the wonder to be found in nature up close and personal.

There are five themes in the exhibition: World Heritage, the lives of trees, nature’s stars (rare plants and conservation), Work of Aeons (the land and its history), and tread lightly (the future).

In walking through you should get a sense of the hazy Blue Mountains, the lush green after a rain, the warm striated colours found within the walls and stone, and rich textured layering of eucalypt bark. All this and when the video screen withdraws you look out over a spectacular view of the Mount Tomah Botanic Garden and the Blue Mountains natural forests.

A bonus in having this Centre in a botanic garden is that we can create a landscape outside to add to the experience. The building has a ‘green roof’, and is surrounded by plantings evoking the feel of vegetation in the Blue Mountains.

You’ll also be able to learn a little about the plants species themselves, arming yourself for a bushwalk in the 1 million hectare Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area with its 100 eucalypt species and hosts of other fascinating plants and animals.

*This Passion for Plants posting will also appear on the ABC Sydney website (see 'Weekends' or search under 'gardening'), and is the gist of my 702AM radio interview with Simon Marnie on Saturday morning, between 9-10 am.

Images: Simon Marnie peering into the Centre through a skylight and planting out the roof with local species.