Have you seen our new garden?
Restoration work on our historic façade is nearly complete, and as part of the works we have introduced a garden of native grass trees (or Xanthorrhoeas) to Macquarie Street. The façade has been restored to reference the buildings original stone colour from the 1800s, and the new plants provide a link to Australia’s ongoing history and connection to country.
Steven Collins, the outgoing Senior Aboriginal Liaison officer said:
“There is so far to go, but it is heartening to see these native plants be re-introduced to the land that Parliament stands on.
Everyone who passes through on sitting days and throughout the year will see the cultural landscaping standing proud by the front doors of the Parliament of NSW.
The garden softens the colonial lines of this building that holds so much significance for the people of NSW. By bringing back some of the story of what was here before, we are reconnecting with the land that Macquarie Street was built on.”
Xanthorrhoeas grow across the coastal landscapes of Australia and work in harmony with our climate, flowering often after bushfire. The leaves and trunk will burn, but the grass tree survives as the dead leaves close to the stem insulate the plant from the harshest heat of the fire.
If you’ve seen our Fountain Court, then the grass tree’s shape may look familiar. Robert Woodward (the architect of Kings Cross’s famous El Alamein fountain) is said to have designed the fountain to evoke a ballerina’s tutu gently rippling in the water, but, Andrew Andersons AO (the project architect for Parliament’s 1970s expansion) described it as “a forest of shiny stainless-steel wands radiates from a central column, like the leaves of a drooping Xanthorrhoea. Top lit by the sky, each wand oscillates almost imperceptibly as droplets, having run down its length, fall off the end and create slowly spreading wavelets in the reflecting pool.”
To protect and conserve the grass-tree, the “Grass-tree Licences Act” was implemented in 1908. This act meant that special licences were required to cut or obtain and remove the common grass-tree on or from timber reserves, forest reserves, or Crown lands not under lease or license.
Why not come and see both the garden and the Fountain Court for yourself? We offer free tours of the Parliament House on Mondays and Fridays and every weekday during school holidays. Be among the first to get a photograph in front of our historic transformation! Click here to book.