History of the AAFBG
While the earliest Friends of Botanic Gardens were formed in
- Adelaide 1977
- Melbourne, Sydney and Ballarat 1982
- Port Augusta in 1984
- Geelong 1985
- Canberra 1990
- King's Park Perth 1993
the origin of the Association in 1993 is a product of Victoria's Botanic Garden history.
Victoria has over 40 regional botanic gardens and arboreta. Many of the botanic gardens were established with the prosperity of the gold rushes of the 1850’s and the support of Baron Ferdinand von Mueller, the first Government Botanist in Victoria, and the first Director of the Botanic Gardens in Melbourne.
In 1985, for Victoria’s 150th anniversary celebrations, 15 botanic gardens were given much needed and long overdue assistance for rejuvenation to acknowledge von Mueller’s outstanding contribution to botany and horticulture in Victoria, donated by 15 German/Australian companies.
One of the stipulations for this grant was that botanical gardens had an associated group of Friends to act as future watchdogs for the gardens. This led to the formation of many Friends’ groups in Victoria at this time. Other Friends’ groups in Victoria and elsewhere had already been established or were formed subsequently.
In 1991 the Friends of the Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne invited representatives of Botanic Gardens throughout Victoria to a seminar to discuss matters of common interest, which was attended by Friends and others from local authorities. The seminar was so successful that is was repeated the following year, resulting in strong support for the establishment of an umbrella organization and the formation of the Association of Friends of Botanic Gardens (Victoria) Inc in January 1993 with a membership of 18 Friends groups.
The aim of the Association of Friends was to continue to hold annual conferences and publish a newsletter, Campsis twice a year. Where possible, the Association has also provided support to or acted as an advocate for Members.
The Association conferences have enabled the hosting Friends Group to raise the profile of their garden, involve local authorities, obtain significant speakers, organize workshops, network with other Friends’ groups, Garden managers and staff, and inquiry from other Gardens.
In 2001, due to the increasing interest of Friends and garden representatives from interstate, the Association of Friends of Botanic Gardens (Victoria) Inc became a national body, the Association of Friends of Botanic Gardens Inc. Association Conferences subsequently became biennial, alternating with the Australasian Volunteer Guides Conferences.
The AAFBG is an Associate Member of the parallel Botanic Gardens Management network Botanic Gardens of Australia and New Zealand (BGANZ) 2004, with which the Association shares a good relationship. BGANZ state networks have been formed in Victoria, New South Wales and in 2010 Queensland. www.bganz.org.au/
In 2015, with 58 members from all states and territories and 4 affiliate members from overseas, the Association became the Australian Association of Friends of Botanic Gardens Inc. (AAFBG). The newsletter
was renamed Eucalypt to better represent the membership.