Mt Coot-tha Botanical Gardens
It’s possible to happily pass an hour or a day within this 56-hectare subtropical expanse that is Mt Coot-tha Botanic Gardens. Arm yourself with a map from the entrance board and get lost in the cool-on-the-hottest-day extensive labyrinth of wheelchair and stroller accessible paths through rainforests, desert plants, bamboo groves, South American and African glades.
Many visitors content themselves with the ornamental lakes which are also home to turtles and a variety of water birds, the Tropical Dome and exquisite Japanese Garden which was originally part of the Japan Pavilion at Expo 88, but the gardens extend far beyond these popular attractions.
Looking for inspiration on what fruit and vegetables to grow at home yourself, then a visit to the Kitchen in the Garden is must.
Those with children in tow should take the excellent Hide'n'Seek Children’s Trail (which can also be interesting for the botanically challenged adult) that winds through a rainforest with sculptures and plaques to spot from the activity brochure.
From here pass through the Bonsai House and African glade and if still feeling energetic it’s recommended to meander the zig zag path uphill towards the Bunya forest as there are spectacular city views and a great lunch spot to be enjoyed from the adjacent lookout.
For the intrepid, beyond here again is the less trampled Australian section, featuring a lake, melaleuca wetlands, tropical rainforest, eucalypts and heathland.
Upon return to the garden’s entrance, the large pavilion-style Botanic Gardens Cafe overlooking the bamboo grove and lotus lakes is the picturesque go-to spot for a meal, tapas or refreshment.
If at the beginning or end of the visit the urge to swot up on everything botanical strikes, there’s a quaint little BCC Mt Coot-tha Library on site across the car park which holds a goldmine of relevant books with titles from Guerilla Gardening to Gardens of the Cotswolds as well as a small crop of children’s books with green themes.
Note that on weekdays, the lookout and picnic area and lake are accessible by vehicle (which the writer discovered after hiking for 30 minutes via a zigzagging hillside path only to find a bunch of people alighting from their cars) - drive on through the car park and past the official looking entry box at the gate. The road loops around the entire edge of the gardens but beware - for those who don’t fancy spending a night in their cars the gates close at 4pm.
Mt Coot-tha Botanic Gardens
Mt Coot-tha Rd