Each year, as part of National Volunteer Week in May, Canberra’s Volunteer Coordinators Network offer a week of free tours and activities for the volunteers of cultural Institutions and organisations in the Central National Area.
Established in 2014, the group comprises representatives from Australian Parliament House, Australian War Memorial, Geoscience Australia, Museum of Australian Democracy, National Arboretum Canberra, National Capital Authority,
National Gallery of Australia, National Library of Australia, National Museum of Australia, National Portrait Gallery, Questacon and the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies.
In 2019, the group expanded, opening its doors to a number of ACT Government organisations involving volunteers, including ACT Historic Places who offer a fabulous tour of Lanyon Homestead.
From behind the scenes tours to lake cruises, each year the institutions roll out the red carpet for the volunteers to say thank you for all their hard work. In 2019, the NCA offered a ‘Discover Commonwealth Park Secrets’ tour, ‘Up Close and Musical’ tour of the National Carillon and ‘Walter and Marion’s Vision’ tour at the National Capital Exhibition which attracted some 30 guests.
NCA Horticulture Volunteer and Macarthur Rose Garden Team Co-ordinator Gwen Souter, was very impressed with the behind the scenes tour of the National Library of Australia. Prior to the tour Gwen did not know that National Library volunteers had so many responsibilities, a number of them qualified librarians, they undertake duties such as front desk support, data entry, research for new exhibitions and inputting information into trove.
On the tour, Gwen met Isaac the libraries robot and discovered down stairs, a space holding millions of books. “It really makes you appreciate what is involved with running the facility,” said Gwen.
On the ‘Discover Commonwealth Park Secrets’ tour, Gwen learned the history of many of the spots she had known fondly for many years.
Here is what some volunteers had to say about their experience:
“I managed to get to the Antarctic Experience at the National Museum, the Aboriginal and Pacific Art at the National Gallery of Australia and the Garden and Sculpture tour at the War Memorial – all very good. It is great to have this opportunity each year to see the sites on special tours and to meet so many other volunteers.”
Sue, National Capital Authority
“Thanks so much for the opportunity of this wonderful tour. Doug and I enjoyed it thoroughly
- the views are great - the history interesting - the carillonist very informative - the two volunteers great. Lovely building both inside and out. So impressed with our visit.”
Anna and Doug, National Arboretum Canberra
“One of the most unusual and impressive visit in my long life, the guides were superb and the visit was truly memorable as was, of course, the music. Thank you.”
Leigh and Sergio, National Gallery of Australia and Museum of Australian Democracy
Amanda Hynson, Volunteer Co-ordinator,
National Capital Authority