A freelance writer and father of two, I am interested in almost anything the ever-changing city of Brisbane has to offer. When I am not seeking the kid-friendly and affordable, I am tracking the home-grown and the unique... Come and discover with me!
Published September 3rd 2014
Bushland bliss and Tallowwood tales await at Indigiscapes
Redlands Indigiscapes Centre is an informative place, but you're guaranteed to leave with at least these two questions: why haven't I visited sooner? And how soon can I come back?
An environmental education centre, treasure-house of native Australian flora and fauna, rewarding family destination and serene sanctuary for the solo stroller—Indigiscapes boasts too many aspects to explore in just one day.
Entrance to the Botanical Gardens area of Indigiscapes Centre, featuring eight themed gardens, playground, maze, and more
So diverse and well-maintained are its attractions that you will soon find yourself wondering how entry can possibly be free. Such is the case, however—you can walk in with a picnic basket and a water bottle at 10am in the morning and walk out at 4pm having spent nothing but several of the more pleasant hours you can remember.
It's hard to imagine a better place to start if you are keen to foster a love for Australia's natural heritage in the hearts of the youngsters you care about. Within a minute of entering the foyer, my conversation with a smiling staff member was interrupted by a shout of "Whoa, Dad, check this out!" Her Ladyship's eyes were like saucers as she demanded instant acknowledgement of just how weird and amazing these spiny-leaf stick insects from North Queensland actually were.
Spiny-Leaf stick insects from North Queensland - though safe in their glass case, they still sway to look more like leaves in a breeze!
One of the clearest indicators of the quality of a public attraction can be found in the attitude of the people who work there; by this measure, staff members Kelli and Julie instantly let me know that we were all going to enjoy ourselves on this spectacular sunny Saturday. Casual receptionist (and café pinch-hitter) Kelli took pains to answer my barrage of questions and point out an optimal itinerary for our interests and age range. Visitor Services Operator Julie—known as the "face of the place"—appeared soon afterwards, and lost no time in transmitting her obvious love for Indigiscapes, the Redlands, and Australia's natural heritage to all in our little group.
Julie - the 'face of the place' - ensures a warm and knowledgeable welcome to Indigiscapes and the Redlands region at the Redlands Visitor Information Centre
Julie's deep knowledge of Indigiscapes' attractions, and the easy and enthusiastic manner with which she shared it, set the tone for the rest of our visit. From hanging with Herbert and Lily the Green Tree Frogs-
This focus finds its most exciting expression in the IndigiKids Club, which is free to join and meets on Sundays. As an IndigiKid, 8-12 year-olds can learn everything from how to help injured wildlife and monitor the health of local waterways through to screen-printing T-shirts and constructing art-works from recycled materials. Accredited education officers are on hand to support Club members' ideas for activities, and to prevent geographical embarrassment on bushwalks and excursions. You don't have to be a club member, however, to take part in the many school holidayactivities and events hosted at Indigiscapes—or simply to enjoy a few hours mucking around on the playground or playing hide-and-seek in the living maze.
As a parent, there's plenty of fun to be had in discovering things together with your young ones; but whatever your age and stage of life, you are sure to find something at Indigiscapes to delight you. My favourite part of our all-too-brief visit was marvelling at the 400 year-old Tallowwood which is a central feature of the Wildflower Walk. This grand old lady was spared from the logging which claimed so many of her companions by virtue of having been lightning-struck and scorched by bushfires. Undaunted by these narrow escapes, she shows every intention of being around for a few more centuries to come, and of housing many more generations of small creatures in her wild contours.
Timeless attraction - a 400 year-old Tallowwood on the Wildflower Walk
There's easily a day's worth of inspiration in the eight themed gardens on site, which demonstrate how you can use native plants in your own backyard to attract birds and butterflies, grow wild medicinal herbs, or recreate your own slice of south-east Queensland rainforest. For those who like to learn by doing, Indigiscapes gardeners and resident experts lead propagation groups, seed-sorting groups and regular tree-plantings both on-site and at various locations throughout the local region. If you leave eager to start a native garden straight away, or want to add to an existing collection, the Indigiscapes nursery provides a small number of plants for sale at $2.50 each during normal business hours, and is open for a major plant sale on the first Saturday of every month (except January) from 9am to 12pm.
Guided tours can be arranged for groups of up to fifty people, offering expert introductions to local plants and wildlife, bird-watching and bush tucker. For a small cost, you can also participate in workshops on a variety of topics—from learning how to save on your power bills at home, through to volunteering for your local Bushcare group or for the Redlands Wildlife Care Network, or simply working out whether that plant in the backyard is friendly native or exotic weed, the range of things to learn about and participate in at Indigiscapes is almost as diverse as the Australian landscape itself. Our path on this particular Saturday crossed with a group learning the basics about native Australian bees with entomologist and apiarist Dr Tim Heard.
For those who may prefer a more solitary experience, the Tallowwood View Walk, Wildflower Walk and Fern Trail Walk each offer hours of self-paced enjoyment along well-marked, easy-grade tracks which criss-cross Coolnwynpin Creek. Like most of Indigiscapes, all tracks except Tallowwood View are wheelchair-accessible, and easy on-site parking allows you to simply roll out of the vehicle and into the wild.
A small but interesting gift shop accepts cash or EFTPOS in exchange for tasteful souvenirs or boutique creations from Australian artisans and producers, and when refreshment becomes necessary you can head to the Tea Garden Café and be pampered by Jacqui and Donna, or simply spread out a picnic blanket and open the esky.
Bush Tucker bounty from Jacqui and Donna at the Tea Garden Cafe
Taking in the view from the Tea Garden over a delicious lunch, we all agreed that this was one of the best morning excursions we'd had in a long time. Prior commitments called us away, but we resolved to return soon to take in more of what Indigiscapes has to offer—after more than three hours, we knew we'd barely seen half of this lovely place. I seized the enthusiastic moment to suggest that next week's Dad's Day Out might be the perfect opportunity to do so.
Get your hands dirty with Dad at the Dad's Day Out, September 7 2014 at Redlands Indigiscapes Centre
Yes, we left the Redlands Indigiscapes Centre happy, impressed, and inspired with the feeling that we ourselves could bring many of Indigiscapes' treasures into our own backyards and community landscapes. Whether through increased knowledge or with helping hands, we could do our own part—however humble—to preserve and enhance the unique Australian environment which we all call home.
Indigiscapes - an uplifting experience for young and old(er)
If travelling from Brisbane by car, follow Old Cleveland Road to Moreton Bay Road. At the second set of lights, turn right into Redland Bay Road. Follow Redland Bay Road past shops and industrial area. Look out for the IndigiScapes sign. Keep right to turn into Runnymede Road (Runnymede Road is on the right before the Vienna Road and Lyndon Road intersection).
For those preferring public transport, see the Translink website for a 270 bus route timetable. The 270 runs from Carindale Interchange to within a kilometre of Indigiscapes.