Discovery garden at the Eurobodalla Botanic Garden

Project: Design and build a new interactive, multi-sensory experience garden (discovery garden) to replace the old sensory garden that was destroyed during the 2019/20 bushfires.

Timeframe: March 2021 to June 2023.

Cost and funding:

  • $511,952.50 in grant funding from the NSW Department of Planning and Environment under the 2020/21 Everyone Can Play program.
  • $60,000 to the project contribution from Friends of Eurobodalla Regional Botanic Garden.

Last updated: February 2023.

Project details

Council is working to:

  • develop plans to build a new and vibrant space at the Botanic Garden that will provide nature-based multi-sensory experiences to visitors of all abilities
  • construct the new discovery garden from the completed, detailed plans.
    Features of the new garden include:
    • sensory garden: a garden where visitors can touch, smell and in some instances, taste the plants on display.
    • fire-retardant micro-forest: a tiny forest containing species that do not readily catch alight or burn slowly.
    • feature wall: a wall that gradually emerges from the ground and incorporates a water cascade or wet wall.
    • adventure swale: consists of a mix of various sized boulders which promotes rock-hopping and creates adventurous paths of travel.
    • adventure trail: a mix of stepping logs and balance beams, and mulch trails.
    • raised boardwalk: a series of raised boardwalks that traverse the entire discovery garden.
    • natural pond area: a semi-interactive aquatic environment which will display a range of aquatic plant species and provide habitats for amphibious and aquatic species.

Benefits to the community:

  • The discovery garden will provide:
    • an engaging space with activities that can help visitors gain a greater understanding and appreciation of the natural world
    • a free, safe, challenging and accessible play experience for visitors of all ages and abilities.
  • The discovery garden's unique concept is being developed as a model for other councils to follow. Council anticipates the garden will become a tourist attraction that benefits the local economy.


The Eurobodalla Regional Botanic Garden was significantly impacted during the 2019/20 bushfires.

  • Bushfires affected the entire 43-hectare site: 95% of the vegetation was burnt and 80% of the infrastructure destroyed or damaged.

This project:

  • is based on inclusive design, using the NSW's Government's Everyone Can Play Guidelines incorporating nature play, adult engagement, sensory engagement and elements of discovery
  • ensures that Council can rebuild the existing feature (sensory garden) destroyed in the bushfire to a much higher standard, with broader appeal catering to all abilities, including those with limited mobility and vision impairment.

Concept plan

The concept plan includes details of the proposed features and a visualisation of the discovery garden:

Project updates

Council has been engaged with this project for some time. Here's a summary of direct and indirect activities that have taken place so far:

February 2023

  • Council calls for input by stakeholders on ideas for incorporating environmental education within the project.
  • Council and the NSW Department of Planning and Environment review 80% of the tender design documentation package received from Moir Landscape Architects.

January 2023

  • Council starts to prepare a request for community input on developing the interpretation and educational content for the project.
  • Council publishes the discovery garden concept plans on the Botanic Garden website.

December 2022

  • The NSW Department of Planning and Environment, on behalf of Moir Landscape Architects, presents 100% of the concept plan to Council.

July 2022

  • The NSW Department of Planning and Environment, on behalf of Moir Landscape Architects, presents 80% of the concept plan to Council.

February 2022

  • The NSW Department of Planning and Environment, on behalf of Moir Landscape Architects, presents 50% of the concept plan to Council utilising the community engagement feedback received.

January 2022

  • Council publishes an online survey on the Botanic Garden website to increase the level of community engagement. Council presents the results of the survey to the NSW Department of Planning and Environment and Moir Landscape Architects.

December 2021

  • Moir Landscape Architects and representatives from Everyone Can Play hold a community engagement day at the Botanic Garden.

September 2021

  • Council forms a project working group with representatives from the Botanic Garden, TAFE, local disability support agencies, Council's Environment Team and open space planning representatives.
  • Moir Landscape Architects advises Council that plan development will commence shortly.
  • Moir Landscape Architects visit the discovery garden site to plan for survey work to be carried out.

June 2021

  • NSW Department of Planning and Environment presents the project guidelines to Council.

May 2021

  • NSW Department of Planning and Environment appoints Moir Landscape Architects as the landscape architect for the discovery garden project.

March 2021

  • NSW Department of Planning and Environment advises Council they are successful in their grant application.

November 2020

  • Council submits its application for a discovery garden to the NSW Department of Planning and Environment 's Everyone Can Play grant funding program.

More information

For more information, please contact Council's Botanic Garden Manager, Michael Anlezark, on: