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Green Guides - in Sydney Botanic Garden

Number 18 - July 1999

Janelle Hatherley






The Royal Botanic Gardens in the heart of Sydney is a wonderful scenic tourist attraction. Located next to the Opera House and on Sydney Harbour, it boasts a superb collection of about 8,000 species and cultivars and a long and colourful history as Australia’s oldest scientific institution and the site of Australia’s first European farm.

In anticipation of expanded tourist numbers, leading up to the Olympics in the year 2000 and other millenium events, the Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney has recently established a team of volunteer ‘green guides’. Green Guides are being trained to provide directions, general orientation, on-site interpretation and to assist with hospitality matters. They join our long standing Volunteer Guides who are horticulturally and scientifically trained to take the general public and specialist groups on tours of the gardens.

Green Guides, like Volunteer Guides, are part of the Community Education Unit. Guides share an interest in plants, a love of the botanic gardens and an enjoyment of meeting new people. They generate goodwill and community support in their interaction with visitors and strive to:

  • promote an appreciation and understanding of plants and their importance in our everyday lives
  • create an awareness of the importance of biodiversity, and the need to protect rare and endangered species and threatened habitats
  • raise awareness of our cultural heritage and
  • increase understanding of the botanical and horticultural work of the Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney.

Volunteer Guides offer free guided walks seven days a week ,as well as paid walks for special interest groups, and have been doing so since 1978. Green Guides provide a complementary service by offering face to face interpretation at fixed points around the gardens. This latter approach is proving to be very successful because it caters for the needs of the many visitors who are ‘just passing through’ or are in the gardens for a short break from commitments in the central business district.

Green Guides regularly stand by the world’s first cultivated Wollemi pine in the Rare and Threatened Garden and answer questions, hand out information leaflets and present interesting touch specimens. As a result, hundreds of visitors each week learn about this endangered species and issues to do with its conservation.

Green Guides have also staffed a six week indoor exhibition entitled 'The Secret Garden: little known plants from our nursery'. Their availability enabled over two thousand visitors to see and learn about 30 of our rare or more unusual plants. Comments in the Visitors’ Book were glowing and asked for ‘more please!’

Green Guides also assist Education Officers with holiday activities such as Twilight Walks and our ever popular childrens' theatre program. They also happily conduct visitor surveys when requested.

Green Guides are now being trained to interpret the Plant of the Week as well as the Australian Rainforest collection in the Tropical Centre. Visitors pay for admission to this pyramid glasshouse and are sure to appreciate the value added by interpretive staff.

Currently there are 36 Green Guides and they have mainly been recruited from the Friends of the Gardens. Training for Green Guides is ongoing and takes place every two weeks with talks, slide shows, walks and other activities about all aspects of the gardens. Volunteer Guides are also invited to attend and contribute to these sessions.

It is clear that all guides contribute significantly to public education while expanding their own understanding of the world of plants. Their professional development is about to be enhanced further by a National Conference of Volunteer Guides in Botanic Gardens to be hosted by the Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney in October 1999.

This conference will be a wonderful opportunity for guides to improve their interpretive techniques and share ideas and information with guides from regional and city botanic gardens all over Australia and New Zealand. The guides themselves are organising all aspects of the conference and during the four/five day event in October 1999 they will conduct tours, coordinate activities and play host to approximately 120-200 people. By holding a conference such as this, strong networks are established and excellence in volunteer management practices is promoted.

Les Nouveaux Guides Verts: au Jardin Botanique de Sydney.


Le compte à rebours est lancé pour les jeux olympiques de Sydney en l’an 2000 et les Jardins Botaniques Royaux se préparent à accueillir des visiteurs en plus grand nombre. 36 guides verts sont en formation pour apprendre à communiquer des notions simples comme les indications d’orientation, d’information et d’interprétation. Ils rejoignent un groupe plus ancien de guides volontaires qui ont reçu une formation horticole et scientifique et qui guident les différents groupes dans le jardin. Les guides verts et les guides volontaires font partie de l’équipe pédagogique. A ce jour, les guides verts ont fourni une aide à l’interprétation du premier pied de Pin de Wollemi cultivé au monde, ont travaillé lors d’une exposition de 6 semaines intitulée le Jardin Secret : quelques plantes peu connues de notre pépinière et fourni une assistance lors d’activités menées pendant les vacances comme la promenade sous les étoiles ou lors de notre très populaire programme de théâtre pour enfants. Ils réalisent aussi des enquêtes auprès du public.

Nuevos Guías Verdes para el Real Jardín Botánico de Sydney


A medida que Sydney realiza la cuenta atrás para los Juegos Olímpicos del año 2000, el Real jardín botánico de Sydney se prepara para alojar el esperado incremento del número de turistas. Se está formando a treinta y seis guías verdes para proporcionar indicaciones, orientación general e interpretaciones in situ. Éstos se unen a un grupo de guías voluntarios veteranos, que han recibido formación en horticultura y ciencias, para llevar al público en general y a los especialistas a visitar los jardines.

Hasta la fecha, los guías verdes han ofrecido interpretaciones en el lugar en el que se encuentra el primer pino Wolemí cultivado en el mundo, han llenado una exposición de puertas adentro, durante una semana, titulada, El jardín secreto: plantas desconocidas de nuestro vivero, y han ayudado en actividades vacacionales tales como los Paseos Nocturnos y nuestro ya famoso programa de teatro para niños. Además, presentan encuestas de visitantes, cuando se les pide.