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Friday, 24 June 2016

FREE FUN & EXPLORATION AT THE BOTANICAL GARDENS, CAIRNS


FLECKER BOTANICAL GARDENS, CENTENARY LAKES, ZHANJING CHINESE FRIENDSHIP GARDEN & RED ARROW WALK

I have a great fondness for Tropical Plants of Far North the Queensland, one of the reasons I moved back to Cairns is to enjoy tropical gardens and gardening.

Cairns has a wonderful well established small Botanical Gardens located in the city suburb of Edge Hill (The Flecker Botanical Gardens dates back to 1876). The Botanical Gardens may be the star of the show there but there are other areas of interest to check out in this suburb making it a great, affordable morning or afternoon for locals and visitors. It’s only a short drive or local bus journey from the Cairns CBD. Any of the buses heading towards our northern beach suburbs can drop you off on the main highway at Collins Avenue, only a short stroll in towards all there is to see. AND….…. it’s all FREE!
Photo's from the Gardens by Tara Reynolds.

After parking my car under large majestic fig trees I headed off through the rainforest boardwalks first, towards Centenary Lakes. Firstly, remember to put on loads of insect repellent as they really love the conditions in there and will eat you alive otherwise! You feel like you have been magically transported miles away into the dense thick tropical rainforest that could be up in the Daintree or elsewhere. Huge Kauri Pines tower above you, massive Strangler Figs try to take over the world and Giant Ferns splay out above the boardwalk. You can feel how ancient these plants are and you feel so small. So amazing to think this is located just minutes away from Cairns CBD!
Photo's of the rainforest boardwalk by Tara Reynolds.

After passing through the gardens surrounding the salt water lake on to the fresh water lake I arrive at the new Zhanjiang Friendship Garden (on Greenslopes Street, opened November 2015). Zhanjiang is the sister city  in China to Cairns. You immediately felt at peace as soon as you arrive. Pause for a moment and take time to absorb the peaceful energy.
Peace at the Chinese Friendship Garden. Photo's by Tara Reynolds.

Many birds inhabit the lake so if your a birdy person, like me,  make sure you bring your super dupe lenses ready for close ups. One of my favourite birds are the Magpie Geese. They come from Asia and migrate here in our cooler months in the middle of the year. They actually like to hang out in high tree branches, despite their weight, and have a hilarious “honk” that is all slightly different  from one bird to another. I find them quiet comical when a group is all honking up in swaying trees.
Bird watching at Centenary lakes. Photo's by Tara Reynolds.

Eventually I made my way back towards Collins Avenue to the start of the Red Arrow Walk heading up through the Mount Whitfield Conservation Park (1.3km). This is a circuit walk that takes only 25 minutes to a lookout point. It is really popular with the locals as a fitness circuit in the early, lunchtime and later hours of the day. Why? Because there are a gazillion stairs! If you don’t mind stairs, the gardens surrounding the walk are beautiful as it changes from dense tropical foliage at the start to woodland and bush when you reach the top. You can watch the planes land and take off at the top if you need a break before continuing. Once up there, you can continue the ridge walk called the Blue Arrow for another couple of hours or make your way down with shaking legs towards the Botanical Gardens Visitors Centre.

Before popping into the centre I wandered into the old World War 2 oil tanks next door. This is an artistic cultural musical centre in Cairns called simply, “The Tanks”. All sorts of events are held here. Today there was a free art exhibition (which there usually is). If you can afford it, make sure you make a gold coin donation and support local artists.
Botanical Gardens Visitors Centre. Photo's by Tara Reynolds.

I have been to the Botanical Gardens many times in the past however this time I was keen to check out the relatively new fernery (The Watkins Munro Martin Conservatory, opened September 2015).  The building is shaped like a giant Fan Palm frond (the symbol of Cairns Council). Inside are Bromeliads, Carnivorous Plants, Ferns, Palms, Orchids and more. This is a great facility, you must come and check it out. Let the pictures do the talking!

Amazing Conservatory photo's by Tara Reynolds.

All in all it was a great few hours spent wandering around and enjoying the beauty of Tropical North Queensland. You can linger longer here, there is more to explore around the gardens and also coffee shops at the Visitors Centre and the Botanical Gardens. Edge Hill is also known for it’s cafe culture, with a few well respected restaurants and cafes… perfect for fuel after all the walking!

HARD FACTS…

Visit time:
Around 3 hours (can take longer)

Times:
07:30am - 5:00pm (For the Botanical Gardens)
08:30am - 4:00pm (For the Visitors Centre)

Suitable for: 
  • Nature enthusiasts
  • Families with older children
  • Solo or couples
  • Happy hikers
  • Photographers
  • Bird Watchers
  • Visitors on a budget
Fitness level (out of 5):
  • 💪 💪 💪 (for the Red Arrow Walk)
Time of year:
  • All year round (bring lots of water any time of year)
  • Repellent all year round!
Price:

  • FREE!

1 comment:

  1. Hey,

    Indeed a Nice Share!!

    I too have great fondness for Tropical Plants and trees and often keep on visiting Botanical gardens and nursery.

    But recently I had visit to the daintree rainforest in Australia. It is a well-known fact that the easiest accessible, on a day trip from Cairns are the ones in Kuranda and Daintree. But the Daintree forests are larger, and more famous, for a good reason - they are the oldest rainforests in the world.
    When most people think about a break to Australia, they think six months travelling with a backpack. However, for those of us with limited annual leave and more limited budget, Australia can easily be enjoyed in small snippets. I visited the east coast of Australia, from Byron up to Daintree, on a two week trip in March, and I fitted in a surprising amount of sightseeing!

    Very Well Enjoyed!!

    Thanks For Sharing :)

    ReplyDelete