New to Canberra, I love exploring this city and the secrets that it holds with my family.
Published September 28th 2016
Colourful natives & rainforest gullies
The Australian National Botanical Gardens are located in Acton, just over 5 minutes from the city centre. This close location to the city makes it a popular venue to explore, where the only sounds you can hear are birds in the trees and small animals in the undergrowth. These 40 acre gardens are the largest living collection of Australian native flora and contain some of the countries most common, as well as endangered plants, from around the country. If you are a "green thumb" in the garden, then the Australian National Botanical Gardens will be a treasure trove to explore. Most visitors begin at the Visitor Centre to find out more information about tours, locations of particular flowers in bloom and to pick up a brochure and map. Nearby is also the leafy Floresco café, if you wish to stop for some energy food before you explore.
I have visited these gardens at other times of the year and have enjoyed the walk, however in Spring the gardens come to life in an array of colour. You can meander along a path and stumble across a vision of natural beauty such as these stunning Telopeas, in the Sydney Region Gully.
As you explore the gardens, there are various areas to explore including Rainforest Gully, Rock Garden, Sydney Region Gully, Asteraceae garden, Red Centre Garden and Eucalyptus Lawns. The gardens have over 6,300 species of plants, representing nearly one-third of Australia's known native plants.
The gardens are large and sprawling, so you are likely to get lost, however you will stumble upon an arrow that will help you on your way back onto the main loop around the gardens. Take a walk through the Australian Daisy Garden (or Asteraceae Garden) and see the variety of 80 different species and learn more about these hardy little flowers. From here you can look up to the iconic Telstra Tower behind the Gardens - if you are feeling energetic there is a 5.4km uphill walk from the gardens up to the top. There is also a waterfall to sit by at the Rock Garden, so you can admire the daisies and listen to the tinkling of the water while you take a break. Although some areas look like they need some extra attention, the gardens are a peaceful place to explore and appreciate the native floral emblems of each state.
If you enjoy bird watching, there is an abundance of bird life in the gardens and there is a bird watching app that you can download so you can identify the variety of birds that you are sure to see. Rosellas, in particular, were happily twisting and turning through the skies over the garden on our visit, with smaller birds hopping between the branches in the undergrowth. We saw several mother birds visiting nests high up in the trees, which was a delight for the children who were visiting the gardens. There were also flowers in bloom that we had never seen before, as well as tiny natives that were just perfect in form.
There are two other areas to enjoy in the gardens that don't have Spring flowers, but are an enjoyable way to spend some time under the trees. The Eucalyptus Lawn is a popular venue for picnics in the middle of the day, or anytime when you just want to lie down in the sun and rest your feet. This expanse of lawns is popular for weddings and events such as Sunset Cinema (November) and the Summer Sounds Concert series (January). Also on the way out, ensure you check out the Rainforest Gully, which is one of the highlights of the gardens for people of all ages. It is a magical walk under rainforest canopies, over bridges, up staircases and along walkways, reading the signage as you go. The plants and trees here represent rainforest natives from Tasmania to Queensland. If you have kids with you they will enjoy this shady wonderland of discovery and pathways to explore.
If you put on your walking shoes, there is a lot to see at the Australian National Botanical Gardens if you enjoy getting back to nature and learning about plant life. Spring, in particular, is the best time to visit these gardens, when the plants are at their colourful best and the birds are at their most active. Located just 5 minutes from the centre of the city, it is the perfect natural escape under the canopies.