AGHS National Conference 2021 Presentation

Welcome to Country and Opening Address

Welcome to Country – Yvonne Weldon
Convenor’s Welcome – Christine Hay
AGHS Patron’s Address – Professor Tim Entwisle

Session Chair: James Quoyle

Running time: 32 mins
File download format: M4V (MPEG-4)

Welcome to Country
Welcome to country is performed by Yvonne Weldon, Chair of the board of the Metropolitan Aboriginal Land Council. Yvonne is a Wiradjuri woman with cultural connections to her homelands of the Cowra and Riverina areas of New South Wales. Her commitment to improving the outcomes for the lands and waterways of this continent, across all Nations of this Country, is an ancient lived practice of her people.

From the Sydney Convenor – Christine Hay
Since we last met in New Zealand 2019 much has happened. Who could have predicted a world pandemic and the universal waves of change it would generate, impacting all our lives. Close to home, the Black Summer bushfires of 2019-2020 devastated landscapes and rural communities. These events have disrupted our way of being, how we think about ourselves, each other, and our environment.

These waves certainly crashed over the bow of our beloved Australian Garden History Society but our resilience and agility has shone through and here we are, good friends, new friends, extended family, lovers of all things landscape and garden history, meeting once again for the 2021 National AGHS Conference.

The Sydney conference committee has embraced many challenges to deliver this event. No mean feat! Centred on creating a meaningful experience, we present a fresh and renewed perspective on the appreciation of cultural landscapes and historic gardens which are too often ‘easily lost, easily muddied.’ We offer to you, our delegates, stories and places which are authentic as either relic landscapes, historic gardens or gardens curated to respect their special and often delicate qualities (which make them significant).

AGHS Conferences provide exciting opportunities to celebrate landscape heritage. They are a testing ground for the exchange and connection of big ideas. We trust our theme, Many Dreams One Landscape, the lectures, gardens and places we visit and the discussions generated, will stimulate notions and ideas about your own ‘big’ landscapes: how to recognise, protect and conserve them. While not all phases of Sydney’s broad history are represented, we wish to bring to life our place, Sydney, and its dynamic natural and cultural landscape heritage. Enjoy.

From the AGHS Patron – Professor Tim Entwisle
As we recovery from deadly bushfires and pandemics, against a backdrop of #blacklivesmatter and #metoo, gardens might seem like the least important thing in the world. Yet, as I found when we closed Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria for seven weeks, people value and need great gardens.
Gardens are more than beautiful backdrops. More than oxygen-producing factories. More than places to promenade when the sun shines. They are for all weathers, all seasons, and all times. We sure as hell miss them when they are gone, even temporarily.

The 2021 AGHS conference is appropriately about change, and perhaps loss. In many ways the theme builds on last year’s conference in Wellington, which took as its launch pad the arrival of the Endeavor to New Zealand 250 years earlier. This time we move to Australia, and to Sydney, not far from the Endeavour’s first landfall in this country and at the site of the first European settlement here. We meet on a landscape that means so much to so many different people: a landscape rich with dreams, fulfilled and not.

From Aboriginal land to British penal colony, through Federation and the growth of the garden suburb, alongside lost, and saved, bushland. Where do gardens sit in reconciling these disparate ideas? How do gardens contribute to a just and equitable society? How do they make us a better nation, or at least a better people?

Such matters might seem too big, and too unanswerable, for the annual meeting of a cheerful garden history society, but we should address them. As we explore and enjoy the garden delights of Sydney, and we listen to the tales of creative spirits and brave campaigners, we cannot but consider our own place in the history we create today.

Enjoy the conference.

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