One of the nation’s biggest living treasures now houses a garden paying tribute to the heart of our country – the Red Centre.

Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment Simon Birmingham today opened the Red Centre Garden at the Australian National Botanic Gardens in Canberra.

“This garden has been three years in the design and making. It’s a major new development for our national botanic gardens and a new tourism attraction for the Capital,” he said.

“In a first for Canberra, the garden features the arid landscapes and iconic plants of Central Australia. It’s great to be here today and see the striking red sand, dunes and rocks and desert trees and plants.

“I’m really looking forward to coming back in 12 months’ time and seeing this arid landscape taking shape, with the classic trees and shrubs of our country’s heart broken up by a creek bed and a carpet of desert wildflowers. You’ll be able to get a unique sense that you’re on a trek through Central Australia itself, while standing at the foot of Black Mountain.

“I congratulate the Gardens and their staff on their passion and spirit. This is a place that continues to inspire, inform and connect people to the native plants of our country. Where else in Australia can you see so many tens of thousands of Australian plants, and walk from the Tasmanian garden up through the tropical rainforests past the alpine plants to the Red Centre.”

In a magnificent effort of logistics, the Red Centre Garden features 900 tonnes of red sand, 800 tonnes of rock and 380 tonnes of local brown sand providing the setting for the garden’s plantings.

The Australian National Botanic Gardens propagated in its nursery seeds from Central Australia, as well as trucking in one very large and old red cabbage palm, Livistona mariae, which takes pride of place at the top of the garden.

Other highlights of the Red Centre Garden include a viewing platform and an Indigenous artwork meticulously recreated in pavement artwork, funded by the Friends of the Gardens. There’s also a story hub for families – including a large thorny devil statue that children will love to meet.

“What a great gift to celebrate the centenary of Canberra,” Senator Birmingham said. “There’s nothing more appropriate to the bush capital than a garden that celebrates our country’s diverse and fascinating landscapes.”

The Red Centre Garden will open to the public for the first time on Saturday 2 November during the Gardens’ Bush Capital Celebration weekend.