The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have continued to charm Australians as their royal tour draws to a close, planting a tree at the National Arboretum Canberra on Thursday morning on a sunshine-bathed hill that boasts nearly 100 forests.
Kate, wearing a stunning emerald green Catherine Walker dress, and William also toured the innovative pod playground but there was no sign of nine-month-old Prince George, despite local children enjoying the sandpit and swings for the cameras.
The Duchess was inundated with soft toys for George from local school children and told them ‘‘his cot’s going to be full of little teddy bears’’.
The event was among the more intimate on the tour with only 50 members of the public allowed in the arboretum, winning their place in a ballot staged by the ACT Government in which there were more than 12,500 applications.
Harry Vey, 11, of Latham gave William a copy of the Mem Fox book, Where is the Green Sheep?, to give to George.
‘‘It was very cool meeting therm,’’ he said.Christine Wall, of Tuggeranong, also spoke to the royals.
‘‘They’re so impressive,’’ she said.‘‘It was so lovely to actually meet them. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.’’
Their Royal Highnesses were greeted by ACT Chief Minister Katy Gallagher who looked stylish herself in a dress by Melbourne designer Anna Thomas.
Canberra six-year-old twins Oliver and Sebastian Lye helped the royal couple water in the newly-planted English oak tree.
The boys were chosen because Sebastian has thrived despite difficulties from having Down syndrome and their mother, Moira, who has battled cancer for years, has worked in the health sector and raised money for cancer support.
William praised the boys for doing a good job - ‘‘well done guys’’ - and said the tree would be ‘‘very healthy ’’ after the thorough watering.
The couple seemed to enjoy themselves in the playground.
At one point William looked up the slide for a closer look and Kate went into one of the pods as a young boy banged on the drums.
‘‘Super. Lovely peaceful spot ’’ was William’s summation of the arboretum.
On a sunny autumn day, the arboretum was looking green and lush, the site burnt out in fires in 2001 and dedicated as a future arboretum by the government in the wake of the 2003 bushfires.
More than $70 million has been spent across the 250-hectare site, including on a visitors’ centre, wedding pavilion, bonsai collection and the pod playground, as well as tens of thousands of rare and endangered trees.
The oak planted by the young royals, chosen for its traditional connotations of strength and endurance, was the 48th planting by a dignitary, with past high-profile past planters including Danish Crown Princess Mary, the Sultan of Brunei, cricketer Glenn McGrath, singer Jimmy Barnes and multiple visiting world leaders.
The arboretum chair John Mackay was also among the invited guests.
Kate and William will attend a reception at Parliament House at 1pm on Thursday hosted by Prime Minister Tony Abbott, followed by a tour of the National Portrait Gallery and then a reception on Thursday night at Government House attended by 100 guests across the spectrum from sport to the arts to business to charity.
The royal couple will attend the national Anzac Day ceremony at the Australian War Memorial on Friday, arriving at 10.30am.
They will also plant a tree at the memorial before flying out of Canberra and Australia on Friday afternoon, bringing to an end a wildly successful tour Down Under as a royal family.