As a Pommy The Secret Garden instantly conjures up childhood memories of quaint garden laneways, lined with roses and the hope of seeing a fairy or two. So when I overheard a colleague mention a secret garden oasis hidden away in Mount Cotton, I was immediately intrigued.
An easy 40 minutes scenic drive out of Brisbane along the Pacific Motorway/M3 (Gold Coast direction) leads you to the foot of Mount Cotton, where you are immediately distracted by the promise of free wine tasting at Sirromet Winery. If you are partial to the odd drop, there's some liquid gold to be found in their Unwooded Chardonnay, but alas, I'd have to save the sampling for another time, designated driver in tow.
So it was onwards and upwards to find this secret garden, or as it's more commonly known as 'Mount Cotton Rainforest Gardens' which are are available for hire for private functions and events only.
Entering via a small laneway you are presented with an 'honesty box' where you place your $5 entry fee and pick up a complimentary handwritten map, it is all very quaint from the get go.
This theme continues throughout your visit, as you are met with extraordinary natural beauty within the 10 acres of rainforest and private gardens. From Lillypad filled ponds and babbling brooks, wooden bridges, to dancing dragonflies and enough butterflies to fill a sanctuary, as well a cheeky looking wallaby if you are lucky. The flora is equally as impressive with vibrant Poinsettia bursting at you on every turn and bushes filled with every colour of the rainbow. Walk under the rainforest canopy and listen to the echo of nature at its best or escape the sun under the shelter of one of the many ancient mango trees with a picnic.
At times you feel you could be at a rainforest retreat as the environment provides you with an enormous sense of well being, and yet unlike the cost of a small house, you can spend the entire day in this little piece of paradise for less than $1 an hr.
True to its name, discover 'Paradise Gardens' with a lookout that provides a varied vista of land and sea including Moreton Bay, National Parks, mountains, sand dunes, and the garden doesn't disappoint either.
Young or old, a garden enthusiast, a couple of romantics or a budding photographer, these Secret Gardens will provide you with the perfect setting to relax, rejuvenate and will envelop you into its own fairy tale.