STEP site in International Arboretum and Gardens

Comparison of Blocks 100, 101 and 102 for the purpose of the design and construction of the Southern Tablelands Ecosystems Park, Stage 1.

Orginally, STEP was offered three blocks and invited to consider which block would be the most suitable for our purpose. John Nightingale prepared a short synopsis of the main points of advantage and disadvantage of the three blocks and recommended that we request Block 100 for the first stage of the STEP project.

When STEP was offered a block at the International Arboretum, there were three possible sites to choose from. John Nightingale developed a comparison of the three sites and recommended that the Committee select Block 100 for the first stage of the STEP project. This was later discussed at a meeting with Jocelyn Plovitz, the Executive Director for the Arboretum and it was agreed that the committee should proceed to develop a concept plan for discussion with the Board of the Arboretum. John’s synopsis is reprinted below. 

Comparison of blocks 100, 101 and 102 For the purpose of design and construction of the southern tablelands ecological park.

John Nightingale, February 2007


Gently contoured small valley with a general northerly aspect; relatively low in the landscape with slopes rising to the south, east and west; adjoins Block 101 which rises up from its north-west edge.

  • Have greater design control over visual horizons to the south, east and west
  • A wider range of planting microclimates with varying exposures to sunlight and the prevailing winds (particularly in the lea of the western ridgeline)
  • As a result of the varying aspects of the site there is improved capacity to create shady and sunny sites with a framework of trees to better represent a range of different ecosystems and microclimates.
  • Good medium and longer range views over relict woodland to a dominant hill (name unknown at this time) in the distance.
  • Solid connection, physically and visually, with adjacent relict woodland (context, interpretation and restoration)
  • Opportunities for design along broad contours with water harvesting through contour banks; incorporation of seasonal and permanent water features; and, the construction of gently sloping pathways that move visitors through different ecosystem representations and down to a relatively flat resting/ interpretation/ picnic area at the bottom.
  • The site includes some rock outcrops which could be incorporated into the design and which could provide a focus for interpretation as reptile habitat.
  • Not as big as the other blocks (101 and 102) – smaller scale, less expense and easier to implement design
  • Not contiguous with  Eucalyptus benthamii  block

North/ north-east aspected slope; moderately steep, rising c.18 metres from its lowest, most northerly, point to a ridgeline on its south-westerly edge; adjoins and rises above Block 100 on its north-east border; adjoins Block 102 at a ridgeline on its south-west edge.

  • Contiguous with Eucalyptus benthamii  block
  • Good medium and longer range views over relict woodland
  • Solid connection, physically and visually, with adjacent relict woodland; better quality of remnant trees than for the other blocks immediately adjacent to its northerly border. 
  • Larger size may provide opportunities for larger ecosystem and microclimate representations.
  • Because the site is generally northerly aspected with a ridge line to the north-west and adjoining Block 100 on its north-east border, this site has less intrinsic design control over the visual horizons.
  • With its more regular aspect, facing north/ north-east, this block has less diversity in planting microclimates.
  • Because this site is steeper than Block 100 and has a more uniform aspect there is less opportunity for the creation of contour banks, for water harvesting and for the creation of pedestrian friendly pathways.
  •  The centre of the north west facing boundary is defined by a broad indented notch; more difficult to design around such an indentation.

Relatively steep, westerly aspected slope; rising c.15 metres from its lowest, most westerly point to adjoin Block 101 at a ridgeline on its north-eastern edge.

  • Excellent long distance views of the Brindabella Ranges; moderately good medium distance rural views.
  • High power transmission lines running across the main viewfield severely reduce the amenity of this site. 
  • The site is relatively remote and disconnected from the core of Arboretum.
  • Not such a direct connection with remnant woodland on its northerly border.
  • The steeper, generally western facing aspect limits planting microclimates; reduces opportunities for the creation of contour banks and water harvesting; and, makes the creation of pedestrian friendly pathways more difficult.