You can visit inspiring botanical gardens in most major cities in the world, but I was surprised to discover that the Sunshine Coast is home to three botanic gardens. While it is possible to visit all three in one day, next time you're in the region, I recommend spending a day in each garden to really enjoy the diversity of species. Each one offers a quiet place to connect with nature and is lovingly tended by a team of volunteers.
1. Maleny Botanic Gardens, 233 Stanley River Road, Maleny:
Over the past six years, owner, Frank Shipp has transformed Maleny Botanic Gardens from a weedy, lantana ridden mess into a true garden paradise. The property's natural spring has been harnessed to create contemplative lakes and waterfalls, with picnic tables conveniently dotted around the grounds. You can also sit in the main gazebo, overlooking the Glasshouse Mountains and enjoy a fresh Devonshire Tea. Frank also has big plans for his gardens, with an aviary, petting zoo, restaurant and skywalk coming soon.
2. Maroochy Botanic Gardens, Palm Creek Road, Tanawha:
Heading down the Blackall Range, and a little to the north east, the next Sunshine Coast hinterland botanic garden covers a huge 112 hectares of eucalyptus forests, rain forests, wetlands, creeks and fern gullies. Maroochy Botanic Gardens also have an Art and Ecology center (with some really interesting children's and adults workshops), extensive walking tracks and grassy spaces for picnics and large groups to make the most of the unique sub-tropical environment. You can join a guided walk every Wednesday at 9am to learn about this amazing corner of the hinterland.
Explore the Sunshine Coast Hinterland's Botanic Gardens
3. Noosa Botanic Gardens, Lake Macdonald Drive, Cooroy:
It is really hard to believe that Noosa Botanic Gardens were a rubbish dump until 1987. Since then, they have put Lake Macdonald on the map as an ideal place to kayak, tie the knot and bird watch. There is a large open air ampitheatre, where performances are often held, as well as Noosa Festival of Water (June 30, 2013) and it is the start point for The Great Noosa Trail Walk. This garden is a very short drive inland from Noosa and makes for a fun day out - and don't forget to bring your bike.