After a day rushing around Brisbane attending meetings and seemingly being stuck in traffic for longer than I actually was, I was driving out of the city towards the Western Motorway and spotted a sign directing me towards the Brisbane Botanical Gardens at Mt Coot-tha. Now I have a confession to make, I studied Botany at University and despite more years than I care to remember having passed since those days, I thought "Well, why not?!"
From the very moment I drove into the car park, the 'hustle and bustle' of Brisbane melted away and the sky seemed just tinge more intense blue than normal – perhaps that was just wishful thinking. The motorway might well have been just across the barriers, but seemed just a murmur in the distance. I began to think of Frederic Law Olmsted describing New York's Central Park the "Lungs of the City" and whether the same could be said to be true for the Botanical Gardens.
I quickly located the entrance and armed with one of the many free guides, I set off on the white arrow trail. This being one of three trails in a botanical garden that boasts some 11 themed gardens spread over 52 hectares, with the other two trails being the Aboriginal and Australian plant community trails. The trail was easy to follow, the plants clearly labelled and the map was fully descriptive. The guide suggests 60 minutes to walk this trail, but 90 minutes later I reached the café and the end of my trail. Now this might lead you might think that I am really too old to be wandering around the park by myself, but on the contrary, it was extremely difficult not to get sidetracked; I just had to spend time looking at the Cinnamon tree as I'd never seen one before, the Japanese garden just makes you sit down and pause and I'll probably never want to walk through an 'exotic rainforest' without lingering to look for a few extra moments and take a few photographs.
At the end of my walk, I just happened to walk past a boy, say six or seven years old asking his mother if they could go and have a look at the 'bubble gum' tree again. At first the boy's comment amused and surprised me, but considering the numerous outreach programs offered by the Gardens for the general public, they had probably been frequent visitors. I suggest that you pick up one of their brochures and spend a free hour or more in one of Brisbane's treasures.