It doesn’t take long for Brisbane’s Mount Coot-tha Botanic Gardens to weave its tranquillity magic.
In fact, our love affair with this sprawling wonderland of trees, palms, flowers, birds, insects and lizards (to name but a few of the myriad of inhabitants) was virtually instantaneous.
Most Queenslanders know of the gardens, which were opened to the public in 1976 after six years of planning and preparation.
But how many realise just what a family-friendly gem we have within such easy reach? A free gem, at that.
Fifty-six hectares of sub-tropical plants, linked by (mostly) shady walkways which snake past thriving waterways, grassy resting spots and special features.
These include such highlights as a Japanese Garden, Fern House, Playground and a unique quiet place….the National Freedom Wall, celebrating the 50th anniversary of victory in the Pacific.
The gardens are just the place for a family picnic with heaps of quiet spots to rest, shelters, toilets and drinking fountains. There is a mobility map available with information on accessibility, including pathway gradients.
And if you don’t want to picnic there’s an airy, spacious restaurant with a variety of beautiful assorted café delights as well as a lunch and breakfast selection.
All in all, just what we needed in these COVID-battered times.
In order to make the most of our experience we booked one of the daily free guided discovery tours starting from the Visitor Information Centre and conducted by volunteer guides.
The organised hour-long walks, which recently resumed (with social distancing) after a COVID pause, are the way to go, taking us to areas of the gardens we probably wouldn’t have seen if we had been left to our own devices.
Following our health and safety instructions, we set off from the administration centre with our guide, Lemise and it wasn’t long before we were planning, with Lemis’ help, a whole lot of additions to our gardens at home.
As we passed through the Fragrant Garden, the rainforest and the conifer collection, we not only saw heaps of different plants and breathed in heaps of different smells, but caught glimpses of water dragons and native bees, all the time being entertained by scores of butterflies fluttering between the various plants.
As we walked among the conifers it was sobering to realise that there are some 500 different species of conifers worldwide.
Overall, our stay at the Botanic Gardens gave us a greater awareness and appreciation of the plants in our neighbourhood and a need to find out more.
We will definitely be going be back.
Information about the Mount Coot-tha Botanic Gardens can be found at https://www.brisbane.qld.gov.au/things-to-see-and-do/council-venues-and-precincts/parks/botanic-gardens-in-brisbane/brisbane-botanic-gardens-mt-coot-tha. Bookings for guided walks – phone 07 3403 2535.