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Brisbane City Botanic Gardens

Home > Brisbane > Animals and Wildlife | Day Trips | Free | Gardens | Parks
by Roz Glazebrook (subscribe)
I'm a freelance writer living in Brisbane. I love bushwalking, kayaking, wildlife, history and travel.
Published November 28th 2019
Chill out with the dragons
The Brisbane City Botanic Gardens is a haven for wildlife in a busy city. I recently had a casual job for a few weeks at Queensland University of Technology (QUT) at the City Gardens Point campus.

City Botanic Gardens
Skyscrapers from the City Botanic Gardens


It was a bit of a shock having to get up very early to catch a train to town. I last worked in the city in 2009. After a few days of walking up through Queen Street Mall and along George Street, I discovered a wildlife haven in the middle of the city.

Eastern Water Dragons relaxing
Eastern Water Dragons relaxing


I began to walk up Edwards Street, till I hit the City Botanic Gardens in Alice Street. The gardens were very beautiful early in the morning. There were lots of birds and Eastern water dragons around, enjoying the early morning sunshine.

Path in City Botanic Gardens
Path in City Botanic Gardens


Even though I worked in the city for many years in Charlotte Street and Queen Street, I had never been to the Gardens before. In my lunch breaks, I used to go to the shops.

Two dragons sharing a rock
Two dragons sharing a rock


The wildlife in the Gardens appeared very comfortable. I saw baby swamp hens with their mothers swimming in the ponds, and dragons lazing about on rocks looking like sculptures.

The riverside City Botanic Gardens were Brisbane's original botanic gardens. Convicts planted food crops in 1825 to feed the prison colony. In 1828 botanist Charles Fraser selected the site to become a public garden. It was established by 1855. The gardens are Brisbane's oldest and most mature with many rare and unusual botanic species.

Trees in City Botanic Garden
Trees in City Botanic Garden


The plant collection includes the first Queensland native plants, exotic plants, herb and vegetable gardens, and historical exhibit gardens. There are seven main gardens ranging from Bamboo Groves, Weeping Figs and many native and exotic plants. There are lots of lovely picnic spots throughout the gardens and beside lily ponds. You can walk through avenues of Bunya pines and along mangrove boardwalks, and visit the café for refreshments.

Swamp hen and chick
Swamp hen and chick


There are free guided walks led by Volunteer Guides Monday to Saturday. You can join one at the Rotunda near the Alice Street entrance at either 11am or 1pm.

Parliament House from Gardens
Parliament House from Gardens


Walter Hill was the first curator of the Brisbane City Botanic Gardens from 1855 to 1881. He worked diligently for almost 30 years to establish the gardens introducing flowering trees, economic plants and decorative plants.



During his time, he carried out expeditions to Tropical North Queensland to collect interesting native plants and was responsible for introducing mango, pawpaw, cotton and sugarcane to Queensland. To commemorate the wonderful works Walter Hill did for the City Botanic Gardens, there is the Walter Hill Fountain located inside the gardens.

City Botanic Gardens Sign
City Botanic Gardens Sign

You do need to watch out for people zooming around the Gardens on pushbikes and scooters. Early in the morning, I saw people doing exercises in the park, and a few homeless people rolling up their swags.

There are regular concerts in the park as well as markets, exhibitions and shows on the River stage. You can even get married there.

There is still a lot I haven't seen in the Gardens so I need to go and spend more time there. I read there is a Sculpture of James Morrill, who was shipwrecked in 1846 after his ship Peruvian was caught in a cyclonic gale after leaving Sydney for China. The ship was wrecked nine days later on Booby or Minerva shoal, in the Coral Sea, west of New Caledonia. Twenty-one survivors took to a makeshift raft and drifted for forty-two days. Morrill and six other survivors landed near Cape Cleveland.

Fountain
Fountain


The other survivors soon died and James lived with the local Aboriginal tribes for seventeen years. I had heard about him when I lived in Townsville and was researching some information about the men who discovered Bowen Harbour. On 25 January 1863, Morrill was with a party hunting for kangaroo. They came to an outstation of a sheep property, and he approached the white people and said, 'Don't shoot, mates, I'm a British object!'

3 dragons
3 dragons


Next time you are in town in Brisbane, go and spend some time in the City Botanic Gardens. You never know what you will see. It is a great place for a day trip.
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Why? A peaceful place in busy Brisbane
When: Anytime
Where: Brisbane City Botanic Gardens
Cost: Free
Your Comment
Congratulations winning third place!
by Bryony Harrison (score: 4|12521) 33 days ago
Congratulations Roz!
by Paula McManus (score: 3|3495) 33 days ago
Congratulations on winning third prize.
by Gayle Beveridge (score: 3|7763) 27 days ago
Another wonderful story Roz. I particularly liked the wildlife stories. Hope you have a great Christmas (and congratulations on your work stint at QUT)
by Gillian Ching (score: 2|824) 52 days ago
In my childhood the Botanic Gardens were a regular place for a Family day out.
Not so much to see the Gardens them selves but the animals in the Zoo.The Zoo contained Australian animals and Birds as well as animals from other lands the large Monkey being a great attraction. Precious memories.
by nande (score: 1|10) 49 days ago
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