The riverside location of Brisbane’s City Botanic Gardens gives the area an out-of-city feel even though the gardens are located walking distance to the city’s main attractions. As well as the gardens, playgrounds and recreational activities, the City Botanic Gardens also have deep cultural significance.
A rich history
The gardens began life as the penal colony’s first farm in 1828. After the penal colony was disbanded and free settlement began, Walter Hill was appointed as the first botanic curator of the gardens in 1855. Along with growing crops including tobacco, sugar, grapes, tropical fruit, tea and coffee, he also established a public recreational reserve on site which at the time was called Queens Park.
Although the crops are long gone, there are still remnants of Walter Hill’s early work in City Botanic Gardens, including an ornate drinking fountain which was the first public one in Brisbane. the old Curator’s Cottage built in 1905, and the old band pavilion built in 1878.
The gardens have had many attractions over the years, including a zoo for a while, but today, the attractions are focussed on nature and community engagement.
Things to do
For locals, the City Botanic Gardens are a place for a morning walk with a coffee along the river’s edge or a weekend cycle with friends or family along the new six-metre-wide cycleway. But, if you’re vising the city for the first time, you might want to dig a little deeper.
The riverside City Botanic Gardens have free guided walks run by volunteers. During the one-hour walk, you’ll be told about the features of the gardens and their significance within the city of Brisbane. Walks leave Monday-Saturday from the information kiosk (next to the Queensland University of Technology’s Main Drive pathway) at 11am and 1pm.
If you decide to explore the gardens at your own pace, there are a few places you won’t want to miss. The Bamboo Grove is a collection of 23 bamboo species. It was planted to commemorate the bamboo collection that was lost in 1937 when the gardens’ Fern Island attraction was drained and filled as a result of mosquito complaints.
Little pieces of history
History buffs might like to visit one of the original cannons that were cast between 1797 and 1810 by the Carron Company ironworks in Scotland and then sent to Brisbane to defend the new colony of Queensland and were originally set up in Queens Park (now part of the City Botanic Gardens) as a firing battery on the bank of the river.
Another interesting feature in the gardens is a sculpture by Queensland artist, Lindsay Daen. It depicts 22-year-old seaman, Jemmy Morrill, who was the sole survivor of a shipwreck on the outer edge of the Great Barrier Reef in 1846. He was found by Aboriginal people and lived with them for 17 years before returning to a European settlement. He went on to play an important role in improving relations between the Aboriginal people and early settlers.
After your walk, you can take advantage of Brisbane’s Chairs2Share program designed to enhance the way people enjoy the city’s green spaces. Chairs2Share makes deck chairs available for free to allow visitors, residents and workers to appreciate Brisbane’s enviable outdoor lifestyle.
Address: 147 Alice Street, Brisbane City, QLD 4000
Open 24 hours