Mt Coot-tha Botanic Gardens

This botanic garden gives new meaning to the word huge. It is situated 7km from the CBD on 52 hectares! There are more than 20 000 plants representing about 5 000 species from around the world. As you can see, not something you can cover in one day. This was our second attempt at seeing all of it, but we will have to go back for the section on Australian Plants.

These wonderful gardens are open every day and entry is free. You can cut a big chunk off your walking time if you visit during the week as you are permitted to drive to various spots inside the garden then. On weekends and public holidays however the gardens are closed to vehicles.

You can join a free volunteer guided walk lasting for about one hour or grab a map for a self-guided walk. There are maps for three self-guided walks, namely Aboriginal Plant Trail, Australian Plant Communities Trail en White Arrow Trail.

The garden is filled with wonderful attractions like the Tropical Dome displaying rare tropical plants. The Dome was designed so the temperature only varies between 24 and 28 C with a humidity variation of about 2 percent.

Another lovely attraction is the Japanese Garden that was moved to this location from outside the Japan Pavilion at Brisbane’s World Expo 88. The traditional Japanese doors not only sets the mood, but also invite the visitor by means of three Japanese characters to come into the garden, enjoy the blue of the water and the green of the trees.

Right next to the Japanese Garden, you’ll find the Bonsai House. It was constructed using rammed earth walls which give it a very rustic feeling. A wide variety of bonsai including figs, azaleas, conifers and maples are on display.

You’ll find many hardy plants and cacti in the Arid Zone. The Australian and Exotic Rainforest areas are not only beautiful but also the best place to be when the midday sun bakes down on us. There are various venues in this area up for hire that will surely transform a beautiful wedding picture into something extraordinary.

We love to pack a picnic and spend a lazy hour or two next to the Lagoon. It is absolutely the best spot if you are after a photo and/or interaction with some water dragons. If you still have some energy left, visit Bamboo Grove, the Fruit Trees (you’ll see some wonderful and exotic species here) as well as the Herb Garden. I also want to mention the specimen of Wollemi Pine you’ll find at Mt Coot-tha.

You can go on a bit of a treasure hunt for this tree. It shouldn’t be hard to spot, as it is the only tree in the garden inside a cage! I am sure you are wondering what prompted this bizarre exhibition style. The Wollemi Pine was thought to become extinct about thirty million years ago, but low and behold three small stands of living pines were discovered in 1994. Remarkable to behold such a rare plant!

But still this amazing garden has more on offer: it is also the home of the Sir Thomas Brisbane Planetarium. Not to mention the botanical library, education centre, botanical laboratory, Lake Side Gardens Café and Queensland Herbarium. You’ll simply have to experience it yourself!  More Photos.

Mt Coot-tha Australian Section

The Australian section of this garden stretches across 27 hectares and is the newest addition to the gardens with plantings beginning in 1984. The plants are divided into separate communities like wetlands, open eucalypt woodland and rainforests. The area also features an artificial lagoon.

Many of the plants featured here are rare and endangered species. This section of the botanic garden houses the largest collection of Australian native rainforest trees in the world.

Maps are available for self-guided tours around the Australian Plant Communities and the Aboriginal Plant trail. The Aboriginal Plant trail was planted in 1974 and is the oldest section of the botanic garden.

This trail shows the knowledge the Aborigines have of native plants, e.g. the king orchard’s swollen stems were beaten to a pulp and then cooked on hot stones. They used the inner bark of the foam bark tree to poison freshwater and marine fish. The soft trunks of the cluster fig were hollowed out to make canoes, but more impressive is that they boiled the inner bark in water to use as medicine against diarrhoea. It is simply astounding to look at nature through their eyes.

The Freedom Wall is also located in this section of the garden. On 15 August 1995 Australia celebrated the 50th anniversary of victory in the Pacific. This wall was built to celebrate 50 years of freedom.

Every time we visit these gardens, we encounter something new. This time we saw heaps of tiny frogs. You have to look very carefully though as they blend in really well with their surroundings.  More photos.