You might think it’s a bit odd having botanic gardens in the middle of a rainforest. But the Tamborine Mountain Botanic Gardens combines secluded picnic areas with a range of beautiful feature gardens. The gardens might be small, but they pack in a lot of fun. There are themed gardens and trails, sculptures, picnic areas and rotundas. It is a great family park with lovely things to see year round.
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- Top 10 Reasons to Visit
- 1. Contemplation
- 2. Picnic in the Gardens
- 3. Sculptures & Art
- 4. Palm Grove Boardwalk
- 5. Sooty Owl Creekside Trail
- 6. Bromeliad Garden
- 7. Camelia Garden
- 8. Rose Garden
- 9. The Cascades
- 10. The Orchid House & Wisteria Pergolas
- 11. Japanese Garden (Bonus)
- Day Tours to Tamborine Mountain
- Tamborine Mountain Accommodation
Getting to the gardens
The gardens are in south east Queensland’s Scenic Rim and getting there is an easy day trip from Brisbane or the Gold Coast. The drive takes between 45 and 60 minutes and there are tours from both centres. The gardens are in the heart of Tamborine Mountain on Forsythia Drive not far from Gallery Walk. The gardens are free to enter, and they are open from dawn to dusk seven days a week.
Tamborine Mountain Botanic Garden App
Tamborine Mountain Botanic Garden motto is look up, look down, look around. It’s a simple message but one worth keeping in mind as you explore the gardens. There is so much to see, it is worth remembering the motto and slowing down to take in everything the gardens have to offer.
A great way to get the most out of your visit is to use the Tamborine Mountain Botanic Gardens App. There is a QR code on their website that will link you to the app in the app store on your phone. Once you have the app you get access to a map of the gardens, seasonal features and even an I Spy game for the kids.
Top 10 Reasons to Visit
We had a great time when we visited the gardens. From the map you might think that it won’t take more than an hour to wonder around but we found this was a good half day activity. Here are some of the highlights from our visit to the gardens.
A feature of the gardens are the 8 designated contemplative sites. We’re not making the name up; that’s what they’re actually called. At each site is a plaque with suggestions on how to enjoy the site and a few words to get you in a contemplative mood. Even if you find the words a bit corny, it is still a nice sentiment in such a beautiful place.
One of the things we loved about the gardens is that there is so much seating tucked away in secluded little nooks. If you find a spot in the gardens where you want to stop for a bit longer to take it all in, there is a good chance there will be a bench there for you to do just that.
2. Picnic in the Gardens
This is a cracking spot to bring a hamper for lunch and that was exactly what lots of people had done the day of our visit. The most popular picnic area is the Lakeside Lawn next to the carpark. There is plenty of room, wonderful views across the lake and a big plant covered pavilion with picnic tables to escape the heat or a bit of rain.
There are picnic tables scattered around the gardens so if you are after a bit more privacy you shouldn’t have any trouble finding a quiet spot. If you are looking for a quieter part of the gardens, try the picnic table near The Cascades. It is a lovely area and sees fewer people wandering through than other parts of the garden.
3. Sculptures & Art
There is art throughout the gardens and naming a favourite piece isn’t easy! It is hard to miss the giant dragonfly in the lake. The Carved Owl tree is also a great looking thing. There are sculptures, carvings in the bench seats and colourful mosaics in the walking paths. See if you can find the giant egg under some trees, it is quite a sight!
4. Palm Grove Boardwalk
From the grassed area by the carpark, past the flowering lilies and the cute little Balinese hut, you get to the Palm Grove Boardwalk. The path takes you through an area with native palms, red cedars, and trees with enormous buttress roots. It’s a pretty part of the gardens with lots of interesting information and lots of seating to take in the views.
5. Sooty Owl Creekside Trail
These gardens are so easy to get around and have so many fun and interesting features that they are already a great place to bring children. The Sooty Owl Creekside Trail is the icing on the cake and the young and young at heart will love this fun walk.
The Sooty Owl Trail is a boardwalk that features fun and colourful sculptures, the Sooty Owl B&B cottage and a working waterwheel. Look out for the giant caterpillar hiding in the woods! There is lots of informative signage along the trail about many of the plants and trees in the area. Keep an eye out for the eco-heap; it’s a habitat designed for all sorts of creepy crawlies.
6. Bromeliad Garden
Unless you live in the right part Australia, trying to grow a bromeliad can be a quite an unhappy experience. So, when you see hundreds of them in a mass planting all looking amazing it is quite a sight. The Bromeliad Garden only takes up a small area but it doesn’t make it any less spectacular. The tree in the middle of the bromeliads, a silk floss tree, as well as having a great name is also a great looking thing.
7. Camelia Garden
If you are lucky enough to visit the gardens in winter one of the highlights is the camelia garden. While the deciduous trees will be looking a bit sad, the camelias will be in full bloom bringing a big splash of colour to the gardens. This is a pretty area. There is an old rotunda which is a great vantage point over the camelias and there is also a designated contemplative site. In winter, you might have to queue up to get a seat there!
8. Rose Garden
Another seasonal highlight is the Rose Garden. It is a labour of love for the volunteers and Friends of the Garden and their hard work has paid spectacular dividends. At their best in spring, if you like to smell the roses, you’ll love the Brindabella and Duet varieties in the garden. The roses have been specially chosen for Tamborine Mountain’s tropical climate.
9. The Cascades
This is a quieter part of the garden. The walk to The Cascades takes you through the grassed picnic area mentioned earlier. A path then leads you into a more heavily vegetated environment along the banks of the creek. This is another contemplative site. There is a wooden platform with a bench looking out over the creek and palms. With fewer people walking around here, it is a good spot to relax for a moment.
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10. The Orchid House & Wisteria Pergolas
If you are lucky enough to visit the Botanic Gardens in spring, you are in for a treat. One of the highlights will be seeing the wisteria covered pergolas blanketed in lilac blossom. The picnic pavilion has a wisteria cover, but the main display is on the long pergola that runs along the lake by the orchid garden.
The orchids are kept in sight but out of reach of visitors. Unfortunately, our visit to the gardens in February meant we saw neither the orchids nor wisteria at their best. It was still a nice area to walk through and imagine a more colourful scene later in the year.
11. Japanese Garden (Bonus)
Near the bromeliad display, the Japanese Garden is another picturesque area. The plants in it are beautiful and the creek running through adds another bit of structure to the area. The highlight are the steeply curved bridge, ornamental walk-throughs, shelters and lanterns.
This was our last stop for the day, and it was the perfect place to finish. We watched butterflies flit along the banks of the creek and did our own bit of contemplation on what a magic place these gardens are.
Day Tours to Tamborine Mountain
- Explore Tamborine Mountain with a Mystery Picnic Experience
- Explore Springbrook Natural Park and visit the Tamborine Mountain Glow Worm Caves & Skywalk
- Book a Natural Bridge Skywalk and Mt Tamborine Adventure
- The Best of Tamborine Mountain Day Tour from the Gold Coast
Tamborine Mountain Accommodation
- Pethers Rainforest Retreat – The air-conditioned, 1br bed and breakfast with kitchenette and ensuite
- Witches Falls Cottages – Adults only retreat nestled amongst flower gardens and native trees. Each bathroom has a glass roof, allowing guests to watch the stars from their double spa bath
- Southern Sky Glamping – patio with pool views, this tented camp also has a well-equipped kitchen & ensuite
- Wallaby Ridge Retreat – spacious suites with access to a shared patio with views of the Great Dividing Range. Enjoy a swim in the pool or relax in the heated hot tub, which overlooks the vineyard
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