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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,  mosaic plantings and an amphitheatre for performances and events. The garden’s colours, smells and animal inhabitants change with the seasons.

Special garden experiences

Join Adam Shipp (Wiradjuri) of Yurbay for a Forecourt Garden tour, experiencing the sights and scents of the season as he shares his knowledge of native plants. More on Tasting Australia tours

Ask at the Information Desk in the Gandel Atrium about free hosts talks or for a brochure about local bird life.

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 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.

The garden also features a firestone, where people can gather, connect and share stories. Fire and smoke are part of sacred rituals used to acknowledge ancestors, welcome visitors, and cleanse people and places.

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 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.
The mirrored surface of the Welcome Wall

Mosaic Gardens

The Forecourt 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.

See 20 of the plants chosen for the garden. The information about each plant was supplied by TCL Landscape Architecture or drawn from the Ngunnawal Plant Use field guide.

Planting map

Colour map showing aerial view of a garden with plants identified by numbers from 1 to 20.
Forecourt Garden plantings


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.

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.

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