The Norfolk Island Botanic Gardens house a collection of specimens of plants endemic to Norfolk Island. The garden aims to develop and display a collection of Norfolk Island's unique flora with a strong emphasis on increasing knowledge, appreciation and enjoyment of Australia's plant heritage.
The Norfolk Island Botanic Gardens were declared jointly by the Norfolk Island and Commonwealth Governments as a Commonwealth Reserve on 30 January 1986. The original garden was owned by Mrs. Pat Moore and covered 0.6 ha. Mrs. Moore (nee Annie Eliza Kirkpatrick) moved to Norfolk Island from New Zealand in 1949. She purchased the property planted numerous species of plants found only on Norfolk Island - which began the collection which was to become the basis for the Norfolk Island Botanic Garden. Before she returned to New Zealand in 1975, Mrs. Moore ensured that her hard work, dedication and vision would not be lost to future generations of Norfolk Island residents and visitors, by making it possible for the Norfolk Island Administration to take over the management of the area, which was declared as a Flora and Fauna Conservation Area.
Since the declaration of the Botanic Garden in 1986, it has been managed under the National Parks and Wildlife Conservation ACT (1975) and subsequently under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Act (1999). In 1993 a further 4.9 ha of remnant rainforest was purchased and added to the Gardens.
The Botanic Gardens are 5.5 hectares in area including both natural vegetation and cultivated sections. There are a number of beautiful walking trails through Botanic Gardens and National Park and it is an excellent place to observe birds and other fauna close at hand.
The transformation of Norfolk Island's botanic garden
Local school children replanting in the gardens
What a difference a year can make in a garden - especially when it has the help of local school children and some exceptionally enthusiastic rangers.
At the start of 2009, the Norfolk Island Botanic Garden was looking a little run down. The tracks were worn and the weeds were winning the battle. Despite this, the botanic garden still attracted lots of visitors. The garden is one of the few remaining areas of subtropical vine forest on Norfolk Island, but it needed a major effort to restore its conservation value and make it safe and more enjoyable for visitors.
The Director of National Parks allocated $60,000 capital works funding for repairing the walking tracks through the botanic garden as part of the renovations. The project aimed to raise the tracks in areas where there were exposed tree roots, to improve safety for walkers and to protect trees from further root damage. It was planned as a three-year project, but with the leadership of visitor facilities ranger Ian McLeod was completed in just 16 months.
In addition to the repairs to the existing walking tracks, park staff designed and constructed a new boardwalk near the entrance to the botanic garden bordered by a variety of Norfolk Island's endemic plants and plants of conservation interest. The next step is to label each plant to help visitors recognise and learn about Norfolk's plant life.
The transformation of the vine forest has been astounding. In April 2009 most of the garden was choked with the weed morning glory. The native vegetation was struggling to survive. It was going to be a huge task to resurrect the native vine forest, so the park enlisted the support of its local school to help with the task.
Over four days, grades five and six students from the Norfolk Island Central School became rangers for the day, clearing out the morning glory from the botanic garden and replacing the bare areas with native plants, including some which are listed as endangered and vulnerable. The grade five class performed a rain dance which really helped get the plants established during what had been the driest six months on record.
Norfolk Island park rangers have also been busy in the garden, trialling techniques to manage the morning glory, installing directional signs and putting in many hours of weeding and replanting. Today the hard work of parks staff and school students has paid off with the final refreshed botanic garden receiving accolades from all who visit.