28 March 2022

Two-week forest festival will celebrate all things green at Eurobodalla's botanic gardens

| Albert McKnight
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Man holding knitted flowers

Eurobodalla Regional Botanic Garden manager Michael Anlezark holds up some of the hand-knitted wattle blooms featured in the Wattle Walk, part of the From the Forest festival. Photo: Eurobodalla Council.

Did you know that spending time around trees is good for your mental health? For instance, a 2018 study from Japan found even short walks through the forest reduced feelings of depression and anxiety in people and improved positive moods.

Well, nature-lovers in need of zen vibes will have the chance to put this claim to the test at a two-week celebration of forests planned near Batemans Bay.

The From the Forest festival, held at the Eurobodalla Regional Botanic Garden, will be filled with exhibitions, storytelling, walks, music and workshops.

It starts at 10 am on 9 April with the opening of the Wattle Walk, an outdoor art installation featuring thousands of hand-knitted wattle flowers, followed by a sausage sizzle and live music.

Garden manager Michael Anlezark said the Wattle Walk, created with the University of Wollongong, was a powerful community art project that packed a punch.

“Wattles represent resilience and regeneration. This exhibit is all about recognising the immense and ongoing impact of the Black Summer bushfires,” he said.

“That’s just the start. From the Forest will deliver all kinds of treasures and memories for visitors to take home.”

READ ALSO Forestry Corporation fined $45,000 for felling habitat trees in Mogo State Forest

Music will include performances from local bands The Phil Cullen Ensemble, The Catalina Clarinet Collaborations, THUGS Ukulele Band, Driftwood and Deep River Choir.

Free art workshops will give both children and adults the chance to express their own response to the unfurling leaves and plants around them, including making pom-pom critters, woollen wattle branches and creating a piece of public art.

You can also go behind the scenes to learn what happens at the propagation nursery, seed bank and Wallace Herbarium.

There are guided forest walks and one that looks at the representation of plant life at the garden in literature, from Indigenous Australian poet Oodgeroo Noonuccal to early European depictions.

A cultural demonstration will teach visitors about the importance of the forest to local First Nations people and there will be a workshop on how to create wildlife-friendly, bush-friendly gardens.

Also, the Visitors Centre Banksia Room will host the exhibition Natural Resources, which features more than 100 works by 19 of the region’s artists.

READ ALSO Quilts sewn with love will bring a world of warmth to bushfire victims

“Inspired by our life-giving forests, this exhibition reveals the partnership of resourceful creativity with beautiful natural materials – wood, textiles, paper and ceramics,” Mr Anlezark said.

The festival will end with a talk by popular local author John Blay, who has spent the last four decades walking through the South East’s forests.

For more information on all the events at the festival visit the Botanic Garden’s website. Bookings are required for some events.

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