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Cairns Botanical Tropical Gardens

Cairns is fondly known as the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef. But sitting at the city's backdoor is the world's oldest tropical rainforest and a number of breathtaking national parks filled with fauna and flora.  

Providing the perfect place to learn about the surrounding wonders of nature is Cairns Botanic Gardens, a tropical paradise and home to one of the best exhibitions of tropical plants in Australia.

A Group Of People Walking Outside Of A Building
Credit to: Tourism and Events Queensland

Whether a nature lover, bird watcher or family looking for the perfect day out, Cairns Botanic Gardens offers an extensive range of activities, exhibitions and tours within its sprawling grounds. With hectares of land to cover, allow us to help with our guide to Cairns Botanic Gardens.

Cairns Botanic Gardens Tours

The best way to learn about the extensive selection of tropical flora and discover some of the rarest plants on earth is by hopping on a botanical gardens tour. The Gardens and Tanks Heritage Tour departs from the Botanic Gardens Visitor Centre at 10am every Tuesday and Thursday and takes visitors on an hour-long journey, with an opportunity to learn about how the botanic gardens evolved and the role played by the tanks in the history of the precinct.

A Group Of People In A GreenhouseCredit to: Tourism and Events Queensland

Alternatively, jump on the free Guided Tour of the Gardens that leaves the Friends House within Flecker Botanic Gardens at 10am every Monday to Friday. This 60-90 minute tour showcases key areas of the Gardens, including the Conservatory and Aboriginal Plant Use section.

And for budding birdwatchers, the Bird Watching Walking Tour leaves at 8:30am every Thursday, taking visitors on an exciting 2-hour journey in search of the gardens' many feathered friends, from laughing kookaburras and rainbow lorikeets to Helmeted Friarbirds and Red-browed Finches. Don't forget your binoculars!

Botanical Garden Highlights

Gondwana Heritage Garden

Located on the eastern side of the botanical gardens, the Gondwana Heritage Garden is the prime spot to learn about the evolution of plants, from the first photosynthetic bacteria to modern flowering plants. Discover ancient rainforest species and learn about the development of the distinctive Australian Wet Tropics flora, all while soaking in the peaceful atmosphere.

Watkins Munro Martin Conservatory

Located within Flecker Botanic Gardens, near the main gate, is the hard-to-miss Watkins Munro Martin Conservatory. Designed to resemble the iconic licuala palm, the conservatory is home to some of the gardens' most valuable and tender plants and a collection of beautiful local butterflies.

A Person Standing In A ForestCredit to: Tourism and Events Queensland

Centenary Lakes

The Centenary Lakes, also known as Freshwater and Saltwater Lakes, offer the perfect spots to set up a family picnic, fire up the BBQ and soak in the natural surroundings. Easily accessed by road from Greenslopes St or by foot along the Rainforest Boardwalk, the lakes are home to magpie geese, black ducks, black-necked storks, cormorants, and several species of frogs, fish and turtles.

Cairns Botanic Gardens Cafe

Set beside the conservatory, in the shadow of magnificent Mount Whitfield National Park, is the Cairns Botanical Gardens Cafe. Pull up a seat on the leafy terrace and select from a delicious menu, including all-day breakfast, toasted focaccias and botanic salads. The cafe's world-famous waffles are a must!

Children's Activities at Cairns Botanic Gardens

For hours of fun for the kids, make your way to the Nature Playground located at Freshwater Lake, near the Zhanjiang Friendship Garden. The playground encourages children to interact with nature and comes complete with a digging patch, balance logs, fairy gardens with plenty of dinosaur bones to uncover, ropes to climb and play huts to build.

While the botanical gardens may feel like an enormous playground, with so much to see and do, there is also a special program for kids under 5. Held fortnightly on Thursdays from 10am to noon, the Little Taccas program features nature-based activities, including arts and crafts, storytelling, sing-alongs, and garden discovery walks.

Cairns Botanic Gardens Location

Cairns Botanic Gardens is located in the North of Cairns on Collins Avenue, Edge Hill. The Centenary Lakes are easily accessed from Greenslopes Street.

Cairns Botanic Gardens FAQ

Is the Botanic Garden free?

Yes, admission to the Cairns Botanic Gardens is free.

Can you picnic at Botanic Gardens?

Yes, there are picnic areas and BBQ facilities at Freshwater and Saltwater Lake.

Can you walk your dog at the botanic gardens? 

Dogs are not allowed in any part of the Cairns Botanic Gardens.

What are the Flecker Botanical Gardens' opening hours? 

The Flecker Botanical Gardens hours are open from 7am to 5.30pm