Upgrades to wittunga botanic gardens

Mr DULUK (Waite) (15:16): My question is to the Minister for Environment and Water. Can the minister please update the house on recent investments into the Wittunga Botanic Garden in Blackwood and update the house on the appointment of a new director of the South Australian botanical gardens?

The Hon. D.J. SPEIRS (Black Minister for Environment and Water) (15:16): I thank the member for Waite for his question and acknowledge his very longstanding interest and connection with the Wittunga Botanic Garden, probably the lesser known of the three botanic gardens in South Australia. Notwithstanding that sometimes lack of visibility in the broader South Australian community, it is a very special garden within the Blackwood Hills area and one that certainly deserved some TLC after years and years of underinvestment under the previous government.

But before talking about the great work that has happened in Wittunga Botanic Garden, I do want to thank and pay tribute to Dr Lucy Sutherland, the outgoing director of the Botanic Gardens here in South Australia, for her leadership in recent years of that incredible South Australian institution, the Botanic Gardens and the State Herbarium. Lucy has decided to move on. Recently, the board of the Botanic Gardens announced the appointment of Michael Harvey as the incoming director of the Botanic Gardens.

Michael has international experience in the running of cultural institutions, including working at the incredibly well known, if not probably the best known, natural history museum in the world, the Natural History Museum in the United Kingdom, based in London. Michael has worked there and also in more recent times at the New South Wales Maritime Museum. We look forward to welcoming Michael to Adelaide and South Australia to commence a new era in leadership for our Botanic Gardens.

When it comes to the Wittunga Botanic Garden, it is a garden tucked away on Shepherds Hill Road in Blackwood. It has been great to see $750,000 spent in lifting that garden in recent months. Some of that money has come from the federal government through Adelaide City Deal with some support from the state government and support from the Friends of the Botanic Gardens, and that has enabled a whole range of upgrades that have transformed the aesthetic and the opportunity for people to access that garden.

It is one thing having a garden there, but if people don't know about it and they don't get in there to immerse themselves in what that garden has to offer, the opportunity that is there to share the story of that garden and for more people to enjoy it is lost.

The funding has seen a significant nature play space established. It has seen garden upgrades, including the creation of a new pad, a new viewing deck over the lake there, and an overall revitalisation of that lake precinct. It's also seen the addition of new garden furniture.

The nature play is in particular a feature, an asset, that is drawing people into the garden, perhaps the demographic that didn't usually engage with that garden. We've got bespoke climbing frames that represent a protea, recognising the very significant South African heritage in that garden. We've got a ribbed musical frog, a dry billabong and an inground wheelchair trampoline, and that has also included 500 new plants that are in keeping with that precinct planted around that nature play.

A whole range of stakeholders have been involved and engaged in making this happen: the Blackwood Primary School, which is the closest neighbour to Wittunga Botanic Garden, the Blackwood Action Group, the Friends of the Wittunga Botanic Garden and Nature Play SA. Nature Play is also located on site there at Wittunga Botanic Garden. It is a great revitalisation project, and we hope that many, many people will continue to enjoy Wittunga Botanic Garden into the future.