The Burrendong Arboretum Trust has welcomed a $39,000 pledge from the NSW Labor Opposition to improve irrigation, upgrade infrastructure and tackle weeds throughout the arboretum.
Manager Mike Herbert said the trust had applied for the grant under the NSW government’s Public Reserves Management Fund.
Shadow Lands Minister Mick Veitch and the Country Labor candidate for Dubbo Stephen Lawrence visited the site this week, promising to prioritise the grant if it wins government at the March state election.
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“We’ll use it for the general upkeep, to make sure it’s safe and pleasant for the public to come and visit,” Mr Herbert said.
He said the 55-year-old arboretum was home to more than 80,000 trees and plants – many of them endangered – across 167 hectares.
“On the foreshore of Lake Burrendong, it’s a peaceful, tranquil place everyone can come and visit,” Mr Herbert said.
“There’s no entry fee, there’s about 30 kilometres of roads and tracks, and Harris Lookout which looks over Burrendong Dam to the west.
“We also have Fern Gully, 5500 square metres under a netting canopy which is a rainforest area in the middle of hot, central west NSW.”
Mr Lawrence labelled the arboretum “a jewel in the Crown estate” and a “key tourism attraction in our region”.
Mr Herbert said he hoped the other candidates in the state election would match Labor’s pledge, so “everyone wins, no matter who wins the election”.
“We are looking for sponsorship, if there’s anyone in the corporate world that would like to support a great cause, and we’re also looking for volunteers,” Mr Herbert said.
“We’re trying to build good, strong partnerships so everyone in Wellington and the Dubbo region can benefit from another strong attraction to the area, so we can be a bigger player in the economic development of the area.”
The arboretum was established in 1964 when amateur botanists, George and Peter Althofer, convinced the NSW Soil Conservation Service to set aside land at Burrendong Dam for an arboretum dedicated to the conservation and display of native plants – the first of its kind in Australia.
The arboretum will host an open day on Sunday, August 19.