Trust Me, I'm a Storyteller

March 21, 2013

First Garden: Olive M Pink at Sydney Royal Botanic Gardens

Opening Night in Sydney

The opening night of the First Garden Olive Pink was held on the Band Lawn of the Royal Botanic Gardens in Sydney on International Women’s Day.

The play, written by Chris and Natasha Raja, was first performed in Darwin and Alice Springs.

After heavy rainfall earlier in the week in Sydney, the first night of the First Garden was balmy and the gardens looked spectacular. It provided the perfect setting for the story of Olive M Pink’s First Garden in Alice Springs. A warm welcome from the Gadigal People set the tone for the play.

Living in the Watagan Mountains opposite Yengo National Park, I am in awe of the way of the indigenous people managed this land. I can’t even begin to imagine what it was like for the first European settlers who arrived out here with little more than a pick and shovel and a few provisions. The clash of concepts of someone belonging to the land and the land belonging to someone was always going to be a disaster. This clash is made starkly evident in the First Garden. Olive Pink was more enlightened and empathic than most of her contemporaries but, even so, the misunderstandings and sensitivities come alive in the First Garden.

Natasha Raja as Olive M Pink is convincing and quite brilliant at playing this fiercely independent and resilient woman with a quirky streak, who could be both formidable and compassionate. Natasha is strongly supported by the sterling performances and interpretations by Eshua Bolton, in dual roles as Johnny Tjampitjinpa and Tasman, and by Scott Fraser in dual roles as Captain Harold Southern and  Henry Wardlaw. An inquisitive magpie unexpectedly joined the cast and almost stole the show for a few minutes.

We are lucky to have playwrights such as Chris and Natasha to bring us the stories of our past. We are also lucky to have Arrernte custodians Auntie Doris Stuart and Aunty Elaine as advisors.


First Garden Opening Night Soiree

It was a great pleasure to meet Chris again and to meet Natasha, Eshua, Scott, Doris and Elaine at the buzzing opening night Soiree afterwards.  A display of the botanical artwork and collections of Olive Pink, as well as some of her possessions, showed the importance of her work.  At the Soiree, hosted by the Royal Botanic Gardens in a room inside, we were served delicious refreshments as we listened to Professor David Mabberley, followed by a board member from Alice Springs Botanic Garden. A representative of the Sydney Royal Botanic Gardens also spoke. The congenial atmosphere and the obvious enjoyment of all present made it a magical night in the enchanting Royal Botanic Gardens. It was great to see so many there, Manisha Amin and John, Ian Brittain, Lesley Branagan, Sunil Badami and April, Roanna Gonsalves, Devaki Monani, Devleena Ghosh, Gaye Follington and all who joined us to celebrate the Sydney opening night of The First Garden and support Chris and Natasha, Eshua and Scott and everyone involved with the production.

 Prof David Mabberley’s speech after seeing The First Garden

Reviews, YouTube videos, trailers and interviews.

ABC Books & Arts Daily: The life of Olive Pink

Aliceonline: Replanting Miss Pink

 Alice Springs News: Garden of Delight

Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney Event: First Garden

ABC: Alice Springs Trailblazer, Olive Pink remembered


First Garden Facebook Page

A series of youtube video uploaded by Chris Raja:

More youtube

When you visit the Royal Botanic Gardens you can visit the ‘permanent exhibition called Cadi Jam Ora, which is a garden display that tells the story of the Gadigal people, the traditional Aboriginal owners of the Sydney city area, and features plants that originally grew on the site of the Royal Botanic Gardens.

To get to the Botanic Gardens, walk to the Sydney Opera House and through the gates on the opposite side of the forecourt’.

If you can, visit the Alice Springs Botanical Gardens and see Olive Pink’s First Garden for yourself.

1 Comment »

  1. […] events, including opening nights at ‘Rapture Blister Burn’ at The Ensemble and ‘The First Garden: Olive Pink’ at the Sydney Royal Botanic Gardens; ‘Short & Sweet’ at Newtown and Nautanki […]

    Pingback by Compliments of the Season | Trust Me, I'm a Storyteller — December 22, 2013 @ 4:44 pm | Reply

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