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How about a hotel among the gum trees?

By Genevieve Jacobs 12 November 2018 46

The zig-zag gardens will line a path from the gates of the National Arboretum to the Village Centre. Photo: Supplied.

A new hotel, cabins among the trees and 50 newly planted zig-zag gardens in the central valley of the National Arboretum are all coming closer as the site grows faster than a rogue willow tree. And that means that what began as a patchwork of forests is rapidly changing shape as it expands commercially.

The hotel idea isn’t a new one: it formed part of the Arboretum’s infrastructure master plan. A range of five to ten years was initially indicated as a timeline, and the expression of interest process was slated to begin when economic conditions were “suitable”. It seems that time may be now.

The ACT government expects that an Expression of Interest for the hotel will be released next year, investigating potential development partnerships. It’s quite possible those investors may come from overseas: a spokesman for the  Chief Minister said that an Arboretum hotel has been identified as a future opportunity during recent trade missions.

Mr Barr said recently that the acquisition of Hotel Hotel at New Acton by the Hong Kong-based Ovolo Group indicated the effectiveness of the international trade mission process and the interest in Canberra from internationally based investors.

Friends of the Arboretum president Trish Keller is enthusiastic about the potential and thinks “the sooner the better” for the project. “At the moment we have this wonderful site, with lots of events, weddings and the like, but there’s nowhere to stay if people afterwards want to relocate. Cabins in the forest would also be well received, I think, similar to the accommodation at the zoo. It’s a great opportunity and an ideal location.”

She says interest in the Arboretum as a tourist destination and venue as well as an attraction for locals continues to be very high. “The visitors are just continuing to come. People say to me, I’m staying in town where should I go for a really special lunch, somewhere memorable? And of course, for me, the answer is always the Arboretum.”

The next major development includes 24 gardens in the Central Valley, placed along the zigzag path stretching from the entry gates to the Village Centre. Each garden bed will be planted with a particular species and Arboretum director Scott Saddler says interest has already been surprisingly strong. “We have the prospectus out but we haven’t even got the project off the ground yet and already we have commitments for five gardens.”

The gardens will be matched by the avenue of trees already being planted by dignitaries, various world leaders and celebrities in an ongoing programme. Eventually, there are plans to incorporate a water feature cascading down the spine of the path, creating a more pedestrian-friendly environment for casual strolls.

On Tuesday night (13 November) the Friends of the Arboretum will launch their first fundraising campaign. They’re seeking $50,000 after committing to sponsoring one of the zigzag gardens and Trish Keller says they’ll launch a few balloons, pop some champagne corks and celebrate the next stage of growth.

Do you think there should be a hotel at the Arboretum?


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45 Responses to
How about a hotel among the gum trees?
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Heidi Appleby 1:30 pm 15 Nov 18

Damien O'Connor cabin in the arboretum 😍😍

Diz Neeii 8:15 pm 14 Nov 18

More picnic areas- with shade structures (at least until the trees are mature)

Coffee that is actually drinkable at the cafe.

Shade over the pod playground!!!! Also maybe some water play options- the play area is very exposed in summer- and as one of only three enclosed playgrounds in Canberra it would be amazing if hot weather was factored in to the parks design.

I'd love to see more sculptures dotted through the landscape too.

Lucy Baker 6:38 pm 14 Nov 18

Where is the Arboretum master plan available? Earlier Riotact topics on accommodation in the Arboretum didn’t mention a hotel that I recall!

Beth Mansfield 11:32 am 14 Nov 18

What would I like to see? A lack of commercialism.

Evelyne Georgette 7:44 pm 13 Nov 18

Why do we need cabins and hotel to settle on the land that all Canberran rates payer have paid for. It should be kept as a great big park and not in the hands of a few privilege one

Bryan 4:33 pm 13 Nov 18

Firstly you would need some gum trees. I don’t know the exact numbers but it appears that there are only two or three eucalyptus varieties. The rest, 100(s) ? Are all foreigners.

Vindalu 4:12 pm 13 Nov 18

Of course a hotel amongst the trees is a great idea. Cabins too and campsites. Perhaps not caravans though. The more the area is used and enjoyed the better. All these uses can be easily accommodated if sensitively planned and well managed. Too many nay sayers in this town and too few people with vision.

Capital Retro 10:12 am 13 Nov 18

“child friendly food”?

In my days as a child we ate what was put in front of us. What are you talking about?

Simone Ancilleri 7:07 am 13 Nov 18

Native species

Marg Christensen 11:05 pm 12 Nov 18

A jetty down at the lake so the ferry can take tourists to the Arboretum carried by a vehicular to take them to the top. There should be two ferries continually circling the lake with daily ‘hop on-hop off’ tix for tourists to visit all the venues accessible from the lake from the Arboretum to Kingston Foreshores

Joan O'Callaghan 8:49 pm 12 Nov 18

I roamed these slopes as a child. (So too did First Australians). So I dread them being torn up to monumentalise a developer's greed. But honouring Canberra's history of innovative design? Yas! I see a build of the quality of Aldo Giurgolo. For aesthetics, bushfire-safety & sustainability, it's partially buried in the hillside. Architects will respectfully consult with, & commission art, from indigenous locals because the hotel will overlook the ancestral women's campsite at the junction of Sullivan's Creek & the Molonglo. Pods hidden in the forests will accommodate young people who attend gigs like, 'Groovin' the Moo' or weddings. A regular ferry service will transport guests to the Lindsay Pryor Arboretum jetty, where they can stroll a magical pathway, or or be bused to venues above.

Kerry Jackson 8:42 pm 12 Nov 18

Restore more of the original native woodland. The arboretum is weird, a pointless zoo for trees. Great views tho.

Shirley Tebbey 8:39 pm 12 Nov 18

I absolutely agree with many here - more picnic areas, free parking for all and the main building to open much later on summer evenings especially.

I'd rather they kept hotels off-site.

Kurt Neist 8:02 pm 12 Nov 18

Picnic tables and some shade.

Though I still don’t understand its existence at all.

Stan Vizovitis 6:24 pm 12 Nov 18

Why everything else us forsale wether we want it or not. ...lets see which one of the longlunch club gets this,

Capital Retro 5:27 pm 12 Nov 18

I think I have figured out why a lot of commentators want to see the arboretum fun park to just keep on growing and growing with every conceivable gimmick and facility available whatever the price.

These people, like a lot of ACT politicians, think money grows on trees and as there are a lot of trees at the arboretum so that’s where all the money come from.

If only it were true.

Leonie Barton 3:53 pm 12 Nov 18

Please don't change it. Too many positive comments from bdm's. There are already plenty of places around the lake to do tai chi and yoga. Even with gym equipment. Please let's have a place with out those things. Don't let this beautiful place be invaded

Marc Edwards 3:21 pm 12 Nov 18

Less parking by fees

Margaret Freemantle 2:48 pm 12 Nov 18

The arboretum in Portland has an area for Tai chi and a small chapel - felt appropriate to me set amongst mature trees

Soo Jay 2:37 pm 12 Nov 18

A koala sanctuary.

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