National Arboretum Canberra

National Arboretum Canberra


‘Mununja the Butterfly Garden’ at the National Arboretum Canberra

National Arboretum Canberra- Gallery of Gardens

The garden depicts Mununja the Butterfly, a dreamtime story of the Ngunawal people, the custodians of the land that includes Canberra and the site of the National Arboretum. Mununja the Butterfly is a story told by Ngunawal elder Don Bell, with thanks to Thunderstone (Ngunawal custodians) and the Ngunawal people.

“Mununja the Butterfly is the story of a young Aboriginal girl who was changed into a butterfly so that she could avoid marrying the evil Gunga. He possessed great powers and would always prevent her from marrying the boy she loved. With the help of Narja, the good spirit butterfly, Mununja was able to remain near her family and her country forever, as a beautiful butterfly.”

The layout, colour and shapes of the garden reference the geometric shapes or scales seen on butterfly wings, in particular Papilio aegeus commonly known as the Orchard Swallowtail Butterfly, and Euploea core or Common Crow Butterfly, both found along the east coast of Australia.

Plants have been selected for cultural significance and for their relevance in providing habitat or food source for butterflies. There is an emphasis on plants that grow naturally in the ACT area and surrounds.

The story of Mununja the Butterfly has been provided and approved by Tyronne Bell (Ngunawal custodian) via Charles Solomon at Garawana Creative. The design of the garden has also been approved by Tyronne Bell (Ngunawal custodian) & Garawana Creative.

Designed by Jim Fogarty for Garawana Creative

Constructed by Able Landscaping Pty Ltd

John Mackay AM and Colette Mackay, along with the Waldren Family, donated this garden for the enjoyment and education of future generations and to preserve the Ngunawal story of ‘Mununja the Butterfly’.

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