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Visit Brisbane Botanic Gardens Mt Coot-tha

Home > Brisbane > Escape the City | Family | Gardens | Nature | Walks
by Cris (subscribe)
Cris is an Organiser of the Group Hiking South East Qld and More on Meetup. Visit the website at is free to join all the activities posted on the hiking group.
Published May 11th 2023
Brisbane Botanic Gardens Mount Coot-tha is a major attraction and a must-do in Brisbane. If you are visiting Brisbane make sure to include on your list Mount Coot-tha Botanic Gardens. It is an amazing area for visitors and locals alike, a peaceful place where it is easy to walk and admire all sorts of native and exotic plants and flowers. Pack a picnic, spend time with the kids in the playgrounds and learn about native and all other world's flora. The trails in the gardens are prams friendly and suitable for wheelchairs making this place accessible to anyone.

After many floods in Brisbane between 1870 and 1974 which ruined the City Botanic Gardens, the botanic gardens were established on the slopes of Mount Cot-tha. The gardens were founded in 1970 and in 1976 the Brisbane Botanic Gardens were officially opened.

The gardens are spread out on 56 hectares exhibiting more than 200,000 plants including Australian natives and species from around the world. Grab a map of the gardens from the Information Centre or take a photo of the map of the gardens on the board and set up to explore. There are many paths, bridges and many natural features that make the walks very captivating.

In 2015 four more hectares were added to the existing gardens as part of the Legacy Way tunnel project. In the new area, there is a vegetable garden, a kitchen, a lagoon and playgrounds.

The Gardens are an amazing place where to spend time with your families, with kids, with friends and groups or just enjoy the place by yourself. Bring a blanket and spread it on a lawn, have a picnic and enjoy taking photos. You can also visit the cafe - Botanic Gardens Cafe - which offers a range of nice food and drinks.

Bonsai House.

The new Bonsai House is located near the Japanese Garden and it displays about 80 Bonsai, including figs, azaleas, camellias and subtropical deciduous species, some more than 80 years old.

Bonsai, Bonsai House, Brisbane Botanic Gardens Mt Coot-tha,
Ficus benjamina, Weeping Fig, Est 1971

Bonsai occur naturally when plant growth is stunted by harsh conditions like strong winds and poor soils. It was nature to inspire patient Bonsai makers first in China and then in Japan.

Bonsai, Bonsai House, Brisbane Botanic Gardens Mt Coot-tha,
From top left, Ficus rubiginosa, Port Jackson Fig, Est 1960; top right Ficus rubiginosa, Port Jackson Fig, Est 1957; bottom left, Pyracanths sp, Firethorn, Est 2000; bottom right Liquidamber styraciflua, Sweet Gum, Mother and Daughter.

On 16 July 1985, Brisbane and the city of Kobe in Japan signed an agreement of sisterhood. When the Bonsai House was open Kobe donated to Brisbane a Japanese Stone Lantern and two Japanese Bonsai pots as a sign of long friendship.

Bonsai, Bonsai House, Brisbane Botanic Gardens Mt Coot-tha,
Rhododendron cv, Satsuki Azalea.

Tropical Display Dome.

The Tropical Dome displays tropical plants in a climate-controlled atmosphere. A set of stairs takes you to a circular pond where the ceiling of the dome reflects its structure in the water.

Tropical Display Dome, Lattice Structure, Tropical Plants, Brisbane, Mt Coot-tha Botanic Gardens,
Tropical Display Dome in Mt Coot-tha Botanic Gardens.

The large lattice structure was designed by the architect Jacob de Vries and it was opened in 1977.

The Tropical Display Dome is open between 9am to 4pm daily.

Tropical Display Dome, Lattice Structure, Tropical Plants, Brisbane, Mt Coot-tha Botanic Gardens,
Inside the Tropical Dome.

The Fern House.

The Fern House showcases more than 80 different species of ferns. Fossils older than 200 million years ago show that ferns are very primitive plants. They can be found in different environments from moist rainforests to desert areas.

They are plants without flowers and reproduce from spores. Aboriginal people knew the value of ferns as food and medicines.

Ferns, The Fern House, Brisbane, Mt Coot-tha Botanic Gardens,
The Fern House is near the Tropical Display Dome in the Mt Coot-tha Botanic Gardens.

Japanese Garden.

The Japanese Garden was born as an exhibition at the Japanese Pavilion at Expo 88 held at South Bank and then gifted to the town of Brisbane.

Japanese Garden, Mount Coot-tha, Brisbane, Mt Coot-tha Botanic Gardens,
Japanese Garden details, Mt Coot-tha Botanic Gardens.

The garden has been designed to feature key elements of stone, water, ornaments, paths and plants. The materials in the garden are arranged in a way to soothe and refresh the human spirit, in harmony and balance.

The main elements are a little waterfall, a stream and a pond with water lilies.

Japanese Garden, Mount Coot-tha, Brisbane, Mt Coot-tha Botanic Gardens,
Water is an essential feature in the Japanese Gardens.

Gone to Seed, 2019.

Just near the Japanese Garden, there is a sculpture made of painted aluminium by Stuart Green. It represents the complex seed forms present in Brisbane Botanic Gardens at Mt Coot-tha.

The gardens at Mt Coot-tha have many native and exotic plants and the sculpture Gone to Seed illustrates the development and the life cycle of a seed.

Mt Coot-tha Botanic Gardens, Gone to Seed, Sculpture, Brisbane public art collection,
Gone to Seed, by Stuart Green, 2019.

Wollemi Pine.

The Wollemi Pine was discovered in 1994 by the ranger David Noble in the Wollemi National Park, New South Wales. The ranger was abseiling when he found a canyon with many alien big green trees. It was certainly a Jurassic Park sight!

The Wollemi Pine has survived for 200 million years in the wilderness of a remote area of the Blue Mountains, not far from Sydney.

Wollemi Pine, Brisbane Botanic Gardens Mt Coot-tha,
Wollemi Pine is in Mt Coot-tha Gardens, between the Lookout and the Lagoon.

It was thought to be extinct, but the relic plant from the age of dinosaurs is now a protected species in a World Heritage Area.

The Wollemi Pine has been cloned to be distributed worldwide to ensure the survival of the plant for future generations.

You can see a few trees of the Wollemi Pine in Brisbane Botanic Gardens in Mt Coot-tha.

Wollemi Pine, Brisbane Botanic Gardens Mt Coot-tha,
There are a few Wollemi Pine in the gardens.

Banksia Plants.

Banksia are some of the oldest families of flowering plants. There is a large area growing in Mt Coot-tha gardens.

Birds, possums, bats and insects are important pollinator for banksia.

On 19 April 1770 Commander James Cook arrived on the coast of the land that is now New South Wales aboard on Endeavour with Joseph Banks and Daniel Solander. In particular they stopped at Botany Bay allowing Banks and Solander to collect many plants. The place was recorded as Botany Bay and it was here where the first specimens of banksia were collected.

The banksia were so beautiful and peculiar they were chosen to be named after Banks as a genus.

Banksia Trees, Mt Coot-tha Botanic Gardens, Brisbane,
I cannot adequately describe with what enthusiasm I sprang ashore, or with what joy I greeted every new plant, and how the wealth of novel sights almost turned my head. Botanist/explorer Ludwig Leichhardt on arriving in Australia in 1842.

Banksia Trees, Mt Coot-tha Botanic Gardens, Brisbane,
Banksia plants after flowering.

Macadamia Tree.

Macadamia trees produces edible nuts that are considered the finest nuts in the world.

Macadamia belong to the Proteaceae, which family contains the well know plants Banksia, Grevillea and Hakea. They are native to northeastern New South Wales and central and southeastern Queensland.

There are four species of macadamia native to Australia: Macadamia integrifolia and M. Tetraphylla which are edible and M. ternifolia and M. jansenii which are not edible.

The nuts were an important source of bushfood for the Aboriginal peoples who were the original inhabitants of the area.

Macadamia tree, Macadamia nuts, Brisbane Botanic Gardens Mt Coot-tha.
The macadamia trees Mt Coot-tha gardens were donated by the Macadamia Conservation Trust.

The Kitchen in the Gardens and the Orchard.

The Kitchen in the Garden is a great addition to Mt Coot-tha Gardens. Professional gardeners and volunteers looks after this educational area. The Kitchen facilities are for the exclusive use of educational workshops.

The Kitchen in the Garden, Mt Coot-tha Botanic Gardens,
The Kitchen in the Garden is dedicated to workshops, but certainly you can look at all the edible plants and start to grow some yourself in your garden or in pots.

The plants are edible and can be grown in the clime of Brisbane keeping in mind sustainability. There are herbs, fruits, vegetable and many flowers. Learn to grow your own food for healthy and delicious food.

The Kitchen in the Garden, Mt Coot-tha Botanic Gardens,
Vegetables and plants may differ according to the season.

The Kitchen in the Garden, Mt Coot-tha Botanic Gardens,
Lots of flowers to attract bees and to help them to produce their necessary food.

There is an area in the gardens dedicated to fruit trees which grow well in Brisbane. There are citrus plants, pomegranates and many other interesting fruit trees.

Fruit trees Mt Coot-tha, Botanic Garden Mt Coot-tha
Fruit trees in the Botanic Gardens, just next to the Kitchen.

Arid Region Plants.

Near the Tropical Display Dome there is an area set up to resemble the arid areas where succulents and cactuses have adapted to live in harsh conditions.

Plants are from different parts of the arid zones in the world, such as dry regions of Central America and Africa.

Succulent, cactus, Arid zone, Mt Coot-tha Botanic Gardens,
A few of the succulent plants in the Mt Coot-tha Botanic Gardens.

Wildlife in the Botanic Gardens.

When visiting the gardens at Mt Coot-tha is easy to spot native wildlife, especially birds, reptiles and insects.

In the water there are turtles and eels, while on the banks of the lagoon there are water dragons sunning themselves.

There are butterflies chasing each other, colourful dragonflies and buzzing bees on flowers.

The different variety of plants attract birds such ibises, brush turkeys, kookaburras, miners, blue faced honeyeaters, curlews, egrets and ducks.

Wildlife, Mt Coot-tha Gardens, Water dragon, Curlew kookaburra, Miners birds, Blue face honey eater, curlew,
Water dragons, kookaburras, ibises and curlews are a common sight in the gardens.

Activities for Kids.

Mt Coot-tha Botanic Gardens are practically a giant playground with much to do and to see.

You can collect the map Children's Trail in the Information Centre and set up in the garden with the kids. Hide 'n' Seek Children Trail is a great way to learn more about natural environment in a fun and involving way.

There is also a playground with swings, climbing features, slides and balancing logs. There are paths to explore, sighting, listen to sounds and be mindful of the surrounding.

Playground Mt Coot-tha, Brisbane, Kids, activities.
The playground is set in a natural area.

Brisbane's Floral Emblem.

Brisbane is looking for a new floral emblem to enhance its own identity and to symbolize the city.

The current flower emblem of Brisbane is the red poinsettia, Euphorbia pulcherrima. It was selected in 1930 by the people, but poinsettia is not a native plant. It is originally from Mexico and South America, it grows well in Brisbane.

red poinsettia Euphorbia pulcherrima, Brisbane floral emblem, Floral emblem, Mt Coot-tha Botanic Gardens,
Red poinsettia Euphorbia pulcherrima is the floral emblem of Brisbane. It grows well in the subtropical areas.

Botanic Gardens Cafe.

Botanic Gardens Cafe is located in the Mt Coot-tha Precinct in a modern and efficient building able to accommodate large families and groups.

The ample dining rooms has tables and chairs and large windows allow the light to come in and there are great views over the gardens and the lagoon.

Have a coffee before visiting the gardens or sit down and relax after your explorations.

Botanic Gardens Cafe, Mt Coot-tha Botanic Gardens Cafe, Brisbane, Coffee, Food , Brisbane food and coffee,
Sit near the windows and relax with your friends and family.

Getting There.

Brisbane Botanic Gardens Mt Coot-tha are about 15 minutes from Brisbane City. Travel on Milton Road and at the roundabout turn right on Mt Coot-tha Road.

The Brisbane Botanic Gardens Mt Coot-tha are located at 152 Mount Coot-tha Road, Toowong.

There is a large carpark, but it tends to get very busy especially in the weekend. There is also overflow carpark across the road for especially busy days.

Mt Coot-tha has also a a bus stop within the gardens too making it easy to get there by public transport.


Gardens are open daily from 8am-6pm in summer (September to March) and 8am-5pm in winter (April to August).

Entry to the gardens is free. Dogs are not permitted at any time (except for guide and assistance dogs) to protect the gardens and native wildlife.

Access to the gardens (via pedestrian entrances) remains open to the public 365 days per year.

There are many facilities including picnic areas, toilets, drinking fountains and playgrounds.

Visiting Mount Coot-tha Botanic Gardens, Flora and Fauna Brisbane,
Exploring the gardens at Mont Coot-tha.

Information Centre Mt Coot-tha Botanic Gardens, Brisbane
Information Centre at Mt Coot-tha Botanic Gardens.

Native Still Life, Tony Albert, Mt Coot-tha Botanic Gardens.
Native Still Life , by Tony Albert, was inspired by beautiful native flowers.

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Why? For walks, picnics, family outing, outdoor activities, photography
When: 365 days
Where: Brisbane Botanic Gardens Mt Coot-tha
Cost: Free
Your Comment
This is THE GUIDE to the Gardens Chris. I love them and go often but your article is bound to attract many curious people. Very comprehensive. Well done. x Marina
by Marina Marangos (score: 3|1285) 18 days ago
Very informative and educational article Cris. One could spend hours there, plus an extra half hour for a coffee afterwards.
by Neil Follett (score: 3|4730) 21 days ago
it looks particularly good on these cooler days and easier to walk about rather than in the heat of summer.
by Gillian Ching (score: 3|6683) 20 days ago
Gosh, I haven't visited Mt Cootha for years, Cris, I can't believe all that they've done to improve it ...
by Elaine (score: 3|9396) 21 days ago
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