From Green Fields to Green Cities – Googong 10 Years On

Jul 13, 2022

Figure 1: Aerial photo taken in 2017 showing neighbourhood 1 complete and neighbourhood 2 well underway.

Recognised over several years for Excellence at the prestigious Urban Design Institute of Australia NSW Awards, it’s hard to believe that one of this country’s exciting, new, self- contained townships, found its humble beginnings in a sheep paddock. From its inception, Alpine Nurseries continues to deliver on its commitment to providing premium quality trees, plants, and shrubbery, in a partnership spanning 10 years.

Armed with an unshakeable vision to create an innovative, ecological, and sustainable master-planned community for families. Googong has emerged at the forefront of a joint development venture with Peet Limited and Mirvac, to eventually become home to around 18,000 people. Situated in New South Wales on 800 hectares of land between Canberra and Queanbeyan, Googong is equipped with everything you’d come to expect from a thriving, self-contained town. Property sales commenced in 2012, with the first residents moving to Googong in 2014. The masterplan includes five interconnected neighbourhoods including the current neighbourhoods of Googong North and Central, with work commencing on Googong West, which will start selling in 2022.

It is therefore no surprise that a development of this magnitude has seen more than 12 years of environmental, ecological and heritage studies, as well as community consultation, go into the planning and preparation of this expanding township before civil works commenced. With over 25% of Googong dedicated to open space, the community also has access to more than 15km of walkways, bike paths and bush trails. From an environmental and ecological standpoint, Alpine Nurseries became an integral part of the Googong planning process.

Map 2022

Figure 2: Satellite image taken in 2022 showing the site for the future town centre just below Bunyip Park.

It is a well-documented fact, that trees play a critical role for people and the planet. Numerous studies have shown the benefits and impact that the presence of trees and urban nature have on our mental, physical health and beyond.

More often than not, we take that treelined street for granted or see that landscaped garden as purely decorative in function, without truly understanding the valuable intent of its aesthetic, as well as its environmental purpose. Trees are essential for healthy communities and people. In urban settings, they serve a higher environmental and ecological purpose, from cooling down an area, to removing pollution from the air around us and providing a home to the many birds and other wildlife.

first trees planted at Googong 1 - 2013
Figure 3 and 4: The first trees planted at Googong – 2013.
Alongside government and environmentalists, Googong is heavily invested in the protection of local flora and fauna, with a $1 million program to save the vulnerable pink-tailed worm lizard, which also calls Googong home. For this purpose, the development includes the construction of two separate sanctuaries, 30 and 50 hectares respectively, on the eastern boundary of the town. Googong, in its quest for excellence, has been awarded the Green Building Council of Australia’s first 5 Star Green Star – Communities rating in the ACT/NSW region. A rating that was reaccredited in 2020 and confirmed and extended to 2026 in recognition of the deliverables achieved since the original certification. The Green Star Communities rating is recognised nationally and creates an Australia-wide standard of excellence for sustainable development. Googong is lauded for its excellence across a number of areas covering sustainable planning, design, and construction.

Alpine Nurseries was engaged to supply all plant and tree material for the first two stages of this incredible development, after winning a competitive tender process involving two other major production nurseries. The scope included over 2,000 trees (ranging from 5L pots to 200L grow bags) and almost 350,000 plants (ranging from hikko cells to 200mm pots).

Acer freemanii Jeffers Red
Figure 5: Acer freemanii ‘Jeffers Red’ showing off its spectacular autumn foliage.

Alpine Nurseries are such a professional and passionate team. I really enjoy working with like-minded people and Alpine can really see Googong’s green thumb vision. I feel the determination Alpine shares in achieving such a goal as this.

Tim Corby – Googong Development Manager Peet Limited

“Every tree for Googong was carefully selected based on the final location and the emotion the landscape would evoke – from the beautiful colours revealed under exfoliating bark of a Lagerstromia or Ulmus tree, to the wonderful and striking autumn foliage of an Acer freemanii ‘Jeffers Red’ and Liquidambar or Pistacia.” Comments Tim Corby Development Manager. “The bold prehistoric look of a Sequoia and Schinus, or the scale of sitting under an enormous shade tree like Platanus or Quercus – there were simply too many to choose from.” When selecting trees, versatility, tolerance to drought, frost and cold weather are all taken into consideration, as well as the visual impact from flowering in spring, to autumn foliage.

The trees for Googong were selected based on the size of the streets for example, certain trees are selected for avenues, verses trees for wider, dual lane streets. Smaller trees will be selected for narrower, single lane roads, whereas others are specifically chosen as an entry marker. Upon the completion of current contract obligations, Alpine Nurseries will have supplied more than 22,000 trees to Googong with more than 40,000 to be planted by the end of the project.

Ulmus parvifolia

Figure 6: Ulmus parvifolia framing the view to the Molonglo Ranges.