When you visit the Gold Coast, seeing the Gold Coast Botanic Gardens might not be top of mind. Theme parks, beaches and the Scenic Rim hinterland are usually on most to do lists. But if you are after somewhere to relax, the Botanical Gardens is the perfect place.
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Bearded Water Dragon
Getting There – from Brisbane and Gold Coast
Officially known as the Gold Coast Regional Botanic Gardens, you’ll find them right next door to the Royal Pines Resort Golf course in Benowa. If you feel like a drive from Brisbane, the trip will take about an hour.
The gardens are free to enter and are open every day between 5.00am and 7.00pm. The main entry is from Ashmore Road. If you follow the ring road in the gardens you will see parking bays that run from the corner of the lake around to the playground. Just a tip – if you park at the playground end it is a much shorter walk to the café!
Are the Gardens dog friendly?
If you want to visit the Gold Coast Botanic Gardens with your dog, there is good and bad news. On the positive side, there is a large off-leash area in one corner of the gardens. Dogs can also walk on-leash through another section of the gardens. However, the area of the Gardens with the lake and boardwalks is off limit to our four legged friends. The areas dogs can and can’t go is well signposted and marked on the park map.
Highlights from the Gold Coast Botanic Gardens
With picnic tables and shelters, BBQs, toilets and playgrounds, it is a fun and relaxing place to spend time. Here are a few of the highlights.
Don’t let the unimaginative name put you off, if there is one part of the gardens you should see, it is here. Feature Lake is the centrepiece of the gardens, it’s near the main entrance and adjacent to many of the carparks. This beautiful area has bridges and boardwalks that let you walk around and over the lake. At either end of the day, it is the definition of serenity.
Feature gardens surround the lake. There are also picnic areas and BBQs at several points around the lake, so it is easy to find somewhere to relax and enjoy a picnic lunch. There is plenty of wildlife around the lake too. You can see everything from turtles and water birds to bearded dragons, colourful dragon flies and butterflies.
Mangroves to mountain walk
One of the things we most liked about the Gold Coast Botanic Gardens is the care taken to inform people who visit. There is information signage and themed gardens everywhere. The Mangrove to Mountain Walk is one of the larger of these themed areas. There are sections of this trail at three different parts of the gardens.
Not only does the walk take you around a large part of the garden, but it also paints a great picture of the varied plant life across different habitats. As the name suggests, you’ll experience everything from wetlands to woodland and forest environments. Make sure you have a park map handy so you can cover all the different parts of the walk.
Because of where we parked, this was the first feature garden we saw. The Sensory Garden is a great idea. There are five raised garden beds, one for each of the five senses – touch, taste, smell, sight, and sound. It is a nice place to walk around with kids or to just explore and enjoy the variety of plants. You can indulge most of the senses, but eating is not permitted at the taste garden!
There is something for rose aficionados, the Rose Garden is right next door to the Sensory Garden. Established with the help of the Gold Coast Rose Society, the Rose Garden is near the Sensory Garden. It contains a mix of roses from Heritage and Old Roses to Australian varieties. The roses weren’t in full bloom for our visit, but the flowers still looked and smelt amazing.
Art and gardens go together and there is no shortage of sculptures here. Keep an eye out for the animals around the lake. You might spot pelicans, koalas, kangaroos and wombats amongst the plants. ‘The Many Faces of Eve’ by sculptor Jutta Pilz is a striking piece in the Rose Garden. There is also a lovely water fountain on the far side of the lake.
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We had seen butterflies all over the place on our trip to Gold Coast and Gold Coast Hinterland. From Blue Tigers at Mount French National Park to Richmond Birdwings at Tamborine Mountain, they were everywhere. So, as we started the butterfly trail, we thought we were in for treat. The Australian Painted Lady, Meadow Argus, Hairy Line Blue, Spotted Sedge Skipper. The possibilities were endless!
In the end, the closest we got to seeing a butterfly here were the signs dotted around the Butterfly Trail garden. It wasn’t for lack of looking but they must have been off collecting nectar from somewhere else on the day we came by. As we know, wildlife, even butterflies, can be fickle. It is a lovely spot and, butterflies or not, it is worth a quiet a walk around.
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The Indigenous Plant Use Trail is a fascinating part of the gardens. You can see native figs, elderberries, tamarind, and native raspberries growing on the trees. If you know what you are doing, you can eat the fruit straight from the trees. One family was doing just that as I walked through. Or I should say, dad was eating berries, the rest of the family was a lot more cautious.
Kaialgumm Games Trail
A feature of the Gardens is the Kaialgumm Trail which explores games played by indigenous children around Australia. There are six sites around the park where you can scan a QR code with your phone to see the details of games such as Kolap, Weme and Taktyerrain. You’ll learn where the game originates from, how to play it and what skills it teaches the children.
Not only is the trail informative, but you can also play the games. They involve simple things like balls and bean bags. You can borrow these items from the Friends of the Gardens and have a go at the games as you walk around. It is a great way to keep the kids entertained.
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Gardens Café and Friends Centre
Located across the bridge at the far side of Feature Lake, both are worth popping in to. The Friends of the Garden office has all the information you’ll need for a walk around the gardens including maps, fact sheets and activities. There are also a range of things to buy that support the work of the Friends of the Gardens. Browse bush foods and jams to native plants and books on local flora and fauna.
If you are looking for somewhere to grab a coffee or an ice cream at the end of your walk, head to the Garden Café. Our ice creams went down very well after walking around in the sun for a couple of hours. Light meals and coffee are available too. Look out for the very confident butcher birds that hang around to grab any scraps.
Gum Tree Corridor
Eucalypts or gum trees are a feature of not only the Australian landscape but many of our own backyards. They are an indelible part of Australian culture and you can see them in their many forms along the Gum Tree Corridor. The trees are grouped by the habitats they occupy and by bark type. It’s a fascinating stroll past everything from stringybarks to ironbarks and everything between.
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Australian Defence Force Memorial Grove
This is one of the newer plantings in the garden. It honours defence force soldiers killed fighting in Afghanistan. Around a dozen different trees are planted in the grove. The variety of trees – including Black Walnut, Ribbonwood and White Booyong – represent the diversity of the people who lost their life in Afghanistan. The trees are all native to the Gold Coast Hinterland.
Established in 2013, the trees will eventually provide a peaceful, shady area to commemorate the fallen. If you don’t get to the gardens often, this is a wonderful chance to see this living tribute take shape.
And so much more…
There is so much more to the gardens than we have mentioned here. Other areas to see include the Montane Rockery, Freshwater Wetlands, and the Eucalyptus Open Woodland. The bird life is fantastic too. Check them out, the Gold Coast Botanic Gardens are the perfect break from the beach or theme parks.
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