I’m almost ashamed to say it – having grown up in Brisbane, there are still so many things I haven’t seen in my own hometown. I’ve always had my gaze fixed on far off places, with the strongest desire to travel the world. I’ve found I’ve somewhat neglected the place I call home.
The positive in this, however, is that there are still new things for me to try, see and do without having to purchase a plane ticket or day dream over destination Pinterest boards.
Over this past weekend, we were treated to some pretty splendid winter days (life in sunny Queensland!), and so Christian and I thought that instead of wasting it indoors getting caught up with household chores, we’d head out under those sun beams. Hopping in the car, we made our way to Mt Coot-tha for an afternoon in the Brisbane Botanic Gardens.
These gardens are a visual delight! Bright, bold colours pop up in between masses of green and textures of all kinds fill a seemingly endless number of garden beds and trails.
If you can, try to dedicate at least half a day here – with around 12 garden spaces across 56 hectares, there is a lot of ground to cover and so it can be a little overwhelming deciding what to see, where to start and how to do it. There are a number of facilities and recreational spaces including a library, picnic areas and Herbarium, as well as self guided and guided walks, mini bus tours and environmental education for students. Be sure to check out the Brisbane City Council website before going as there’s a wealth of information that will help you to plan your visit.
It won’t be hard to see in this post just what my favourite part of the gardens was. I could have spent hours wandering about the Arid Zone and Cactus House. Home to striking dry region plants from Africa and South America, contrasting succulents combine to stimulate the eye, the spaces transporting you to the rugged beauty of a desert landscape. There’s something incredibly beautiful about the structure and resilience of plants that adapt and grow in some of the harshest environments.
Just behind the cascades of cacti, you’ll find the Tropical Display Dome. This large lattice structure displays an array of plants from the tropics. Entering the building, the cooler air was a refreshing change to the sun on our faces, as we followed the path that wraps around the outside of the space past shrubs, climbers and tall trees. In the centre of the dome is a large pond that provides water for the lush vegetation. It’s an environment and climate that was created especially for plants that wouldn’t otherwise grow in the area.
Back outside, we made our way through the Fern House, passing more than 80 different species and varieties of fern, living on rocks, in water and on walls. These primitive plants have fossils that date back more than 200 million years, so there’s something pretty special about the fact that they’re still around today.
Around another corner we found the Japanese Garden. Designed by one of Japan’s leading landscape designers (the late and great Kenzo Ogata) the gardens theme is ‘tsuki-yama-chisen’, or ‘mountain-pond-stream’. Featuring elements of stone, water and small bursts of colour, there’s something incredibly calming about this garden space.
Lovers lay sleepily on grassy banks while children jumped rocks and teetered curiously over the waters edge. It’s the perfect space to bring along a good book or simply lay back and soak up the kind of serene environment that can be hard to find in the middle of a city.
We continued along the S-shaped path that lead us out to the Lagoon and Bamboo Grove. As the bamboo clicked, creaked and and rustled about in the light afternoon breeze, children stood on a nearby bridge deciding whether or not the large crocodile* in the water below was real, the last girl there calling out ‘scardie-cats’ as the others decided they didn’t want to hang around to find out.
(*The crocodile sculpture forms part of the Hide and Seek Children’s Trail that’s set in the Exotic Rainforest).
With closing time approaching, we walked along a section of the Conservation Trail, up past the Kitchen in the Garden and then through the Arid Zone one last time (for good measure).
With the Planetarium just outside the gardens entrance and the road that leads to the Mt Coot-tha lookout at the exit, there is still so much we didn’t cover during our afternoon there. The Brisbane Botanic Gardens are the perfect place to unwind and get grounded while you escape the daily hustle, even just for a few hours.
- Brisbane Botanic Gardens are just 7km from Brisbane’s CBD at the foot of Brisbane’s tallest mountain, Mount Coot-tha. The gardens are open every day of the year and are free to enter. Check out BCC’s website for details on opening hours and more: https://www.brisbane.qld.gov.au/
- 152 Mount Coot-tha Road, Toowong 4066
- Ph: (07) 3403 2535