Mackay Regional Botanic Gardens Luncheon
Mackay Regional Council Mayor, Councillor Greg Williamson, Deputy Mayor, Councillor Karen May and Councillors; distinguished guests; ladies and gentlemen.
I would like to begin by acknowledging the original custodians of the lands on which we gather, the Yuwibara people, and pay my respects to Elders, past, present and emerging. I extend that respect to any First Nations people here today. The beautiful lagoons area that shapes this land was once the meeting and feasting grounds of the Yuwibara people, and this deep knowledge and wisdom continues to enrich and inform us.
Graeme and I are so grateful for the opportunity to join you at your beautiful Botanic Gardens— a sanctuary for flora, fauna…and people.
I am delighted to share a few words with you today, following in the footsteps of a former Queensland Governor, Sir Leslie Wilson, who in 1936 visited Mackay and jokingly remarked: “It seems that every time I eat, I have to make a speech!”
We can excuse Sir Leslie for his remarks—because he did often make more than 10 speeches a day…and I must say I am very much looking forward to enjoying the high tea lunch in this magnificent café!
The Mackay Regional Botanic Gardens are one of Australia’s youngest, and so it is even more admirable what has been achieved here since the gardens first opened to the public in May 2003, not even 20 years ago.
This glorious place is now brimming with examples of over 1,100 different plant species, the majority of which are native to this region. Its distinct precincts represent the incredible landscapes that surround Mackay—from its lush rainforests and waterways, to wetlands and open eucalypt environments, and include a number of botanical species that are considered rare or threatened.
The Garden’s open areas provide space to play and laze; its many trails encourage exploration, its lagoons offer peace and tranquillity—including for the many birds that nest here—and on top of all that, it is a remarkable celebration of the diverse cultural heritage that defines this region.
I am not surprised that you are so proud of this very special place and all it offers.
Of course, the horticulturalists and plant lovers here today are well aware that having a vision for a garden, making it a reality, and then maintaining it takes tremendous hard work, devotion and a fair amount of good fortune, particularly when it’s as large as this one.
I am sure the horticultural team at Government House would agree, as would Graeme, who has the green fingers in our family, and is also Patron of the Queensland Council of Garden Clubs.
I would like to acknowledge the industrious, committed staff at the Mackay Regional Botanic Gardens, but also, and crucially, the many volunteers and enthusiasts who dedicate their time, efforts and expertise to ensuring these gardens are thriving—with such splendour—for all to enjoy.
As we near the end of this trip to Mackay – my first as Governor – I can’t think of a lovelier place to be.
Thank you again for your kind hospitality.