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  • Open
  • Free general admission

The Forecourt Garden is a place of welcome, and a space to rest and reflect, or play and explore.

It includes a Welcome to Country sequence, symbolic elements, mosaic plantings and an amphitheatre for performances and events. Over the year, the garden’s colours, smells and animal inhabitants will change with the seasons.

The garden was designed by ARM Architecture and TCL Landscape Architecture in collaboration with local host nations, the Ngunnawal, Ngambri and Ngunawal peoples.

Welcome to Country

Yumalundi! Gurruburri! Yumalundi! — words of welcome from the Ngunnawal, Ngambri, and Ngunawal peoples.

It is customary for First Nations people to formally invite you onto their land. In the first part of the Forecourt, the Ngunnawal, Ngambri and Ngunawal peoples, who have lived in this area for tens of thousands of years, welcome visitors to their country.

Etched into the sandstone boulders are plant and animal totems belonging to these peoples. Each totem reveals their powerful attachment to this place.

Image by ARM Architecture and TCL Landscape Architecture

Welcome Wall

The Welcome Wall lets visitors see themselves reflected in the long human history of this place.

Bronze markers set into the stone pathway have been chosen by the local Ngunnawal, Ngambri and Ngunawal peoples to reflect places of significance to them in and around Canberra, such as Namadgi National Park, Birrigai rock shelter and Weereewaa (Lake George).

A photo of a person stretching out to touch a mirrored wall with both hands.
A visitor tests out the mirrored surface of the Welcome Wall

Mosaic Gardens

This part of the garden combines plants from across Australia. The shapes, colours, textures and fragrances of the design are inspired by the patterns of growth that follow fire.

Australia’s Indigenous people have cared for country over millennia. They used low intensity fires to gently burn small areas, nurturing plants, animals and soils. From above, the patterns formed by these cool burns look like a mosaic.


In Indigenous cultures, fire and smoke are part of sacred rituals used to acknowledge ancestors, welcome visitors, and cleanse people and places.

The firestone is a place to gather, connect and tell stories.

Plants in the gardens

There are more than 120 different plants in the Forecourt, all chosen for their shapes, colours and smells, and their capacity to cope with Canberra’s climate.

Wiradjuri man Adam Shipp takes us on a walk through the garden, sharing his knowledge of native plants.

Forecourt Garden and Q&A with Adam Shipp 26:36



Map showing the main features of the Forecourt Gardens. Click to view full version

Map showing the plants used in the Forecourt Gardens. Click to view full version


The Forecourt was designed by ARM Architecture and TCL Landscape Architecture in collaboration with artists and community members of the local host nations — the Ngunnawal, Ngambri and Ngunawal peoples, on whose land the National Museum of Australia stands.

Delivery of the Forecourt construction was undertaken by Regal Innovations in collaboration with a team of multidisciplinary specialist partners.

The National Museum of Australia thanks all the donors who gave generously to the Forecourt project. Funds raised through the People’s Walk, the 2018 Annual Appeal and Shadow Bench Appeal have assisted with the development of this precinct.

For more information about birds on the Acton Peninsula, ask for a birdwatching brochure at the Information Desk.

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