Flora and the Baron

Flora and the Baron
A narrative audio tour by Bowerbird Theatre

Baron Ferdinand von Mueller – eccentric outsider, global scientific powerhouse and Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria’s first director – has a tale to tell. Cut off from his beloved Gardens for the last twenty years of his life in self-imposed exile, his spirit re-enters the Gardens as your audio tour guide, delighting in the powerful beauty of the plants, revelling in his scientific legacy, and entertaining us with stories from his remarkable life.

But he is also confronted by the environmental havoc produced from his own actions, like the introduction of blackberries, and the destruction of our native forests leaves him deeply saddened. Mueller challenges us to avoid the mistakes of the colonial scientific era, and to widen our gaze towards the future that we are in the process of creating.

Use your smartphone and headphones to listen to this audio tour, which features Mueller’s prolific writing and also imagines his response to his considerable legacy. 

You will need:

  • a charged smartphone
  • headphones
  • comfortable, weather-appropriate clothes and shoes

To start the tour: use your smartphone to scan the QR code, connect your headphones and press play on the audio file below.  Please wait outside the gate until the Baron invites you to enter.

Listen: the Baron will guide you on your journey, so listen carefully to his instructions. Flora and the Baron is a focussed listening experience - to get the most out of the tour be ready to immerse yourself in the Baron’s story.

Look: directional signs with the yellow everlasting daisy are found in some locations.  Please use the tour map for further guidance.

Be sure to pay attention to your surroundings and take care of the health and safety of yourself and others on the paths and lawns. The tour includes a mixture of gradients and surfaces. As this is a working garden, please be mindful of vehicles. Please note that some sections of the route may need to close temporarily for periodic maintenance works.

Start: outside Gate F (Birdwood Avenue)

End: Guilfoyle’s Volcano, near Gate C (Anderson Street)

Duration: approx. 50 mins

Access: There is an alternative access route which is also described by the Baron. There are three sections where the accessible path branches off. Listen carefully to the Baron for guidance.  These alternative paths are also indicated on the tour map. If you require further information, please call Visitor Experience staff on (03) 9252 2429.

Ready to go?

Follow the instructions on the SoundCloud player below. Remember, if you are at the Gardens wait outside Gate F until the Baron invites you to enter.

SoundCloud instructions

  • If you have the SoundCloud app you can select “Play on SoundCloud”. 
  • If you do not have the SoundCloud app you can play the file on this page by selecting “Listen in Browser
  • To play the audio, press the play symbol.
  • To stop the audio at any time, press pause.
  • To rewind or fast forward the audio file, drag your finger left or right along the sound wave graphic.
  • If you lose this page, you can find it again via the Flora and the Baron event page on the Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria website.
  • If you require technical assistance, please visit the Visitor Centre or call our Visitor Experience staff on (03) 9252 2429.

Download PDF map here

Credits

  • Creators: Bowerbird Theatre (David Joseph & Karen Berger), https://www.bowerbirdtheatre.com/  
  • Performers: Brian Lipson (Baron von Mueller), Karen Berger, David Joseph, Susan Bamford Caleo  
  • Advisors: Dr Sara Maroske, Andrea James  
  • Sound Engineer: Jem Savage, recorded at Wefo Studios 
  • Image: David Joseph, digital collage, Bowerbird Theatre

Sources

  • “On a General Introduction of Useful Plants into Victoria”, Lecture, 1857. Transactions of the Philosophical Institute of Victoria    
  • “Trees & Drought - The Prevention or Mitigation of Droughts in Australia”, Article, 1866. The Journal of Botany, British & Foreign, Vol IV    
  • “Forest Culture in its Relation to Industrial Pursuits”, Lecture, 22nd June 1871. Industrial and Technological Museum     
  • Select extra-tropical plants, 1895. Government Printer, Melbourne    
  • Regardfully Yours: selected correspondence of Ferdinand von Mueller, edited by RW Holme, AM Lucas, Sara Maroske, DM Sinkora & JH Voigt, Vols I, II & III    
  • Hansard, 7th Victorian Parliament, Volume 14. 30 July - 14 August, 1872
  • 'Kuller Kullup' is included with the permission of the author Bruce Pascoe. Originally commissioned by Red Room Poetry and Australian Poetry for New Shoots: Garden of Poems.
  • Beethoven, Piano Sonata No. 32 in C Minor, Op. 111: II. Arietta 
  • Clementi, Sonata in G Minor ‘Didone Abbandonata’ op. 50 no. 3. I Introduzione, II Adagio dolente    
  • Bach, Book I Prelude and Fugue No 8 in E Flat Minor BWV 853, Prelude   
  • Providence Brigade Band, Brass Band Music, mid 19th century, Coventry    
  • Favourite Australian Birdsong, a natural soundscape, Andrew Skeoch & Sarah Kocshak (Redthroat & Pied Butcherbird), https://listeningearth.com/  

If you would like to share your thoughts or have any feedback about your experience about Flora and the Baron, please email events@rbg.vic.gov.au.

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