The first place I explore in any given town is the botanic gardens. I love the variety and exotic plants. And don’t think only one visit will do – oh no, the biggest treat is to visit the same place during different seasons … it truly is the gift that keeps on giving.
So when we visited Rockhampton I was delighted to learn that not only does the town sport a botanic garden, but also a free zoo within the garden. We set out early in the morning to ensure we have plenty of time to explore all 96 acres the garden is set on. Our expectations weren’t too high, as the area was still struggling to rebuild after the devastation of cyclone Marcia.
Despite the considerable damage that was still visible it was a delightful day spent in the most tranquil surroundings.
This is a great example of how the Japanese mastered the art of creating a sense of space and tranquillity within a small space. It contains all the essential elements of a traditional Japanese garden like rocks, water and plants. Even nonessential but desirable elements in the form of paths, steps, a bridge, fences, walls, a gate and ornaments were incorporated. This delightful garden was designed by Japanese landscape architect Kenzo Ogata.
Hugo Lassen Fernery
The fernery was named in honour of a local dentist whose bequest assisted the construction of the building which was in the form of a large cross. Unfortunately it was severely damaged in the storm and we weren’t able to enter into it.
It proudly takes centre stage surrounded by pines that were grown from the seeds from the Lone Pine at Gallipoli. It was built in 1924 to honour the soldiers who served in both World Wars, the Korean, Malaysian and Borneo campaigns and the Vietnam War.
In addition, the garden has a massive collection of palms and cycads. We took a stroll down to the Murray Lagoon to enjoy the tranquillity of what was once a very popular swimming spot for local residents. There are benches, a bird hide out, picnic tables and barbeques dotted along the lagoon
Further picnic tables, restroom facilities and free barbeques are located next to the kiosk under a giant Banyan Fig.
We entered the zoo through the huge walk-in aviary. We spent some time trying to take a picture of a very elusive cassowary before strolling off to look at wombats, koalas, emus, lizards, snakes and crocodiles. Our day out ended after delighting in the antics of the otters and looking into the soulful eyes of a chimpanzee.
Entry to gardens and zoo is free. We would highly recommend a visit.