History of The Australian Botanic Garden Mount Annan

Located on Dharawal Country, The Australian Botanic Garden Mount Annan was once a dairy farm and was officially opened in 1988.

Lake Nadungamba looking across the water to the bird hide

Fast Facts

Land and flora

The Australian Botanic Garden Mount Annan covers an area of 416 hectares (4,160,000 square metres) and showcases approximately 4,000 species of Australian native plants. It is one of South West Sydney's most-loved green public spaces.


The Garden is the emerging flagship campus of the Australian Institute of Botanical Science. The National Herbarium of New South Wales and the Australian PlantBank both call Mount Annan home.


Located on Dharawal Country, the land the Garden occupies is a meeting place for Peoples from the Dharawal, Dharug and Gundungurra Nations.

Post-contact History

The land the Garden stands on was part of 3000 acres (12,140,569 square metres or 1214 hectares) that were granted to Magistrate William Howe in 1818. A dairy farm operated on the site until 1978, and the Garden officially opened in 1988.


There are sculptures and artworks spread around the Garden. The Garden is home to the Stolen Generations Memorial, the Lifeblood Artwork, and many more.


In the Garden's first years of being open, patronage was around 100,000 people per year. In 2011, the entry fee was abolished and visitation increased significantly. The Garden welcomed nearly one million visitors in 2022.


1818: Dharawal Country
  • The land on which the Garden now stands is Dharawal Country.

  • It is a meeting place for Aboriginal communities from the surrounding area – the Dharawal, Dharug and Gundungurra Nations – to come together.

1818 to 1970s: from colonisation to dairy farm
  • 1818: Magistrate William Howe is granted 3000 acres of land on the eastern side of the Nepean River and establishes Glenlee estate. The historic Glenlee House was completed in 1824.
  • 1820s: The land on what was later to become known as Mount Annan was purchased as part of Glenlee estate by magistrate William Howe. Howe hailed from Annan in Dumfriesshire, Scotland.
  • 1850s: Glenlee was acquired by James Fitzpatrick whose descendants ran a dairy farm on it until 1978.
  • 1880s: The Upper Canal was constructed as an additional water source for Sydney. A series of tunnels, aqueducts and open canals transport water 64 km to Prospect Reservoir. This heritage infrastructure is still in use today.
  • 1940s: A dairy farm operates in the northern section of site.
  • 1970s: A riding school was established from the late 70s to early 80s on land leased from the Macarthur Development Board. Barley crops were grown in two paddocks to feed the horses. These were in the mounting paddock near Lake Gilinganadum and where the first Garden depot was located near Narellan Road. The original dairy buildings were used as a kiosk and waiting area for the riding school.
1975 to 1988: planning for a botanic garden
  • 1975: The land was designated as part of a Scenic Protection Zone by the Macarthur Development Board.
  • 1984: The New South Wales Government allocates 400 hectares for a native botanic garden to be administered by Royal Botanic Gardens & Domain Trust – a major Bicentennial Project.
  • 1985: Site planning, construction of roads, lakes, irrigation and nursery/depot commences under the direction of Public Works Dept. First Eucalyptus arboretum plantings. Major plant collecting expedition to Western Australia. Bird census commences.
  • 1986: Construction of Terrace Garden and Mount Annan Drive commences.
  • 1987: Major plantings in the Bottlebrush, Wattle, Banksia and Cassia theme gardens. Visitor Centre car park completed. Nursery and depot begin operating.
  • 1988: Theme garden walking tracks completed. Storms cause major damage to Terrace Garden and Theme Gardens.
1988 to 2011: The Mount Annan Botanic Garden
  • 1988: The Official opening of the Mount Annan Botanic Garden (its original name) by the Duke and Duchess of York on 2 October as the final New South Wales Bicentennial project. The Garden opens to the public.
  • 1989: The Sundial of Human Involvement was completed. The Horticultural Research section was established. Naming of Lake Sedgwick and Lake Fitzpatrick by Kath Fitzpatrick.
  • 1990: Cunningham Drive and Lake Nadungamba were constructed, opening up the northern section of the Garden. New Visitor Centre and endangered species garden were opened by the Premier of New South Wales, Nick Greiner MP, 29 July 1990. Wallaroos were first sighted in the Garden.
  • 1995: The newly discovered Wollemi Pine was first brought into cultivation at Mount Annan. Massed paper daisy displays were developed and became a major visitor attraction.
  • 1998: The Ironbark Woodland conservation area (6 ha) at the entrance to the Garden was donated by Landcom. Signature plantings of Bunya Pines were established on the eastern ridge.
  • 1999: Major redevelopment of Seedbank to support plant conservation work at Mount Annan. Woodland Picnic area was opened to the public. Stage one of Children’s Playground opened.
  • 2000: Award-winning Site Master Plan completed, setting a vision for the future of the Garden. Australian flowers and plants from Mount Annan feature at The Royal Botanic Garden Sydney and Olympic venues around Sydney. Volunteer Bushcare program established, staff and volunteers target African Olive removal from high conservation value woodlands.
  • 2001: Major redevelopment of Garden entrance with feature dry stone wall and entry gates. Dense infestations of the weed African Olive are now established across the site. The Federation Stars collection of Flannel Flowers was released and selected as New South Wales' Federation floral emblem for the Centenary of Federation. Flannel Flower Federation Maze completed. ‘The Gardens Restaurant’ opens in the existing Visitor Centre and the Garden Shop opens.
  • 2002: M5 East motorway opens, dramatically improving motorway access to Garden from Sydney. Federation Maze was opened by Graham West MP. The Natural Heritage section was created to manage native woodlands and conservation planning. Stage 2 of Children’s Playground completed. Contractors engaged to target African Olive removal from conservation woodlands.
  • 2003: Plans announced for a Stolen Generations Memorial, an Aboriginal reconciliation project to be built in woodland conservation area. Trial mechanical clearing of African Olive.
  • 2004: Seedbanking partnership established with the Millennium Seed Bank U.K. and Statewide seed collecting commences. Federal government funding was announced for the construction of the ‘Macarthur Centre for Sustainable Living’ within the Garden.
  • 2005: 'Room with a View' garden launched by Jamie Durie on 12 September. Redevelopment of Terrace Garden renamed ‘Connections Garden’, work now focussed on front sections – Water Garden stage 1 of Connections Garden launched by Dr Karl Kruzelnicki. Core woodland conservation areas free from olive invasion. Central car park redesigned and constructed.
  • 2006: Wollemi Walk of Discovery opened by Jerry Coleby-Williams, 31 March. Bottlebrush Garden was renamed Big Idea Garden to display sustainable urban horticulture - 'Big Idea' Garden was launched 2 November. The Bureau of Meteorology Weather Station was opened by Cr Aaron Rule, Mayor of Campbelltown, 14 November. Drive-through experience ‘Recycled sculptures’ installed. ‘The Knot’ dry stone sculpture installed in Central Valley.
  • 2007: Bowden Centre opened by Hon. Phil Koperberg MP, 7 May – building wins Sulman Award for Public Architecture and secondary awards for sustainable design and materials use. Stolen Generations Memorial was completed and opened by Hon. Paul Lynch MP, 7 October. Macarthur Centre for Sustainable Living opened.
  • 2008: Grevillea Garden opened by Angus Stewart, 2 May. Connections Garden stage 2 opened. Grevillea Garden dry stone terraces opened, after four years of dry stone walling courses.
  • 2009: Connections Garden stage 3 completed. Integral Energy commences powerline reconfiguration and makes a major donation for African Olive removal. Planning commences for ‘The Australian PlantBank’ a new conservation and research centre, a project which aims to take Mount Annan and the Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust into the forefront of plant science and conservation.
2011 to present: The Australian Botanic Garden Mount Annan
  • 2011: Name change from Mount Annan Botanic Garden to the Australian Botanic Garden Mount Annan. Opening of three stages of the Enduro Mountain Bike Trail along the eastern valley of the Garden. First Artist in Residence, John Petrie constructed the 'Bottlegrass' sculpture on the eastern edge of Lake Sedgwick. Opening of the new Garden Entrance off Narellan Road on the 27 September by the Hon. Barry O'Farrell, Premier of NSW and the Hon Robyn Parker MP. The Garden entry fee is abolished.
  • 2012: On 10 January, the first sod is turned for construction of the Australian PlantBank to begin. Construction begins on new visitor facilities in the Banksia and Big Idea Gardens.
  • 2013: 25th birthday celebrations for the Australian Botanic Garden Mount Annan. The Australian PlantBank, a new internationally significant scientific research facility to safeguard plant species for the future is opened by Her Excellency Professor Marie Bashir AC CVO, Governor of New South Wales.
  • 2021: The Garden sees increasing visitation from local residents of South West Sydney in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Garden is a welcome green space for residents to keep in contact with nature during lockdowns.
  • 2022: The new National Herbarium of New South Wales is officially opened on 5 April.
  • 2023: The Lifeblood Artwork on the forecourt of the Herbarium is unveiled on 25 January. Record attendance for the annual National Sorry Day event (26 May) to witness the unveiling of the restored Stolen Generations Memorial by Uncle Badger Bates.