City Botanic Gardens self-guided walk
Brisbane City Council's City Botanic Gardens self-guided walk enables you to explore these historic botanic gardens at your own pace. Use the Google map and page text to learn about the points of interest in the gardens.
Brisbane Botanic Gardens Mt Coot-tha and the City Botanic Gardens also have permanent wheelchair-friendly orienteering courses. Visit the Orienteering Queensland website to download orienteering maps.
City Botanic Gardens self-guided walk online map
Select an icon to read about each point of interest on the self-guided walk (displayed as an information box) and to view a thumbnail of the location. The text from the information boxes is displayed on this page below the map.
You can view photos of all points of interest on this self-guided walk in the City Botanic Gardens self-guided walk set in Council's Flickr account.
Self-guided walk points of interest
A. Queensland's sugar industry inception
After many failed attempts, in 1862 Walter Hill and John Buhôta (a sugar cane planter from Barbados), successfully granulated the juice from sugar cane. The sugar cane was growing in crop trials at the City Botanic Gardens. This achievement marked the Queensland sugar industry's inception.
B. Flood mark
This was erected in 1999 to commemorate floods that devastated parts of the gardens. Between 1870 and 1974, eight major floods swept through the gardens. The worst floods were in 1890, 1893, 1897 and 1974. On 6 February 1893, three naval vessels were washed up onto the garden's riverbank. Another flood two weeks later carried the ships back into the river again. In the 1974 flood, water rose up to 4.6 metres in the garden's centre. Whole plant collections were destroyed and the gardens were closed for 10 weeks. In 2011 flood water reached the level shown on the metal marker.
C. Bamboo Grove
This site is the former location of an ornamental lagoon and Fern Island, which can be seen in heritage photos of the gardens. Walter Hill developed the highly acclaimed Fern Island within the lagoon. Fern Island was linked to the shore by two small footbridges. A grove of giant bamboos surrounded it. The original bamboo grove was lost when the lagoon was drained in 1937 because of complaints about mosquitoes in the area. The Bamboo Grove seen here today has more than a dozen clumping bamboo species, planted in the 1990s to commemorate the earlier collection lost in 1937.
D. Walter Hill fountain
In 1867, stonemason John Petrie built the stone drinking fountain. He used the designs of Queensland's first colonial architect Charles Tiffin. It commemorates the completion of Queensland's first major engineering achievement, Enoggera Dam. The fountain was later named to honour the first gardens' curator.
In 1862, 12 cannons, cast between 1797 and 1810 by the Carron Company ironworks in Scotland, were sent to Brisbane on the immigrant ship Clifton. The cannons were provided to defend the new colony of Queensland. They were originally set up in Queens Park (now part of the City Botanic Gardens) as a firing battery on the bank of the river. This cannon, serial 63914, was cast in 1803. In 1909 it was moved from Queens Park to Cameron Rocks Reserve by Hamilton Town Council. In 1954, it was relocated again and set up at the Bulimba power station on Gibson Island. In 1982 it was swapped with another cannon restored by the Naval Cadets. The cannon was reinstated in the City Botanic Gardens in 2015. It is close to its original location near the Alice Street entry and faces the Brisbane River.
F. Jemmy Morrill and the brolgas sculpture
Queenslander Lindsay Daen created this bronze sculpture. It is on permanent loan from the Queensland Art Gallery. The sculpture is of 22-year-old seaman, James Morrill. In 1846, he was the sole survivor of an outer edge Great Barrier Reef shipwreck. Saved by the Aboriginal people, he lived with them for 17 years before returning to the European settlement in Bowen, North Queensland. He helped to improve indigenous and early settler relations.
G. Mahogany tree (Swietenia mahagoni)
Planted by Walter Hill in 1858. Wood from the mahogany tree was an economic crop, important to early settlers in the new colony. Native to southern USA, Caribbean and the West Indies, the timber from this species has beautiful, straight grains. This makes it perfect for the production of musical instruments, furniture and chests. Traditionally it was used in the construction of sailing ships.
H. Macadamia nut or Queensland nut tree (Macadamia integrifolia)
This tree planted by Walter Hill in 1858 is believed to be the world's first non-Indigenous cultivation of the macadamia. The tree, which still produces nuts, was brought from the Queensland bush near Gympie. Locals know these trees as the bauple nut, named after nearby Mount Bauple.
I. Rainforest Garden with gneiss and coral rockeries
During the 1860s, Australia shipped wheat to South America from Kangaroo Point wharves (across the river). Ships returning without commercial cargoes used rocks or gneiss (pronounced 'nice'), as ballast. View the South American gneiss, a streaked metamorphic rock, in the gardens' rear rockeries. You will also see coral dredged from Moreton Bay.
J. Curator's residence
The curator's residence replaced other residences built for earlier curators. The Navy claimed the building during World War II and removed the back-half to an unknown location. In 1987, the house was converted into a restaurant and cafe during a major gardens' redevelopment.
K. Tamarind tree (Tamarindus indica)
In 1858, Walter Hill planted this tree as a potential food crop for the early colony. It still produces large crops of fruit. This is arguably the oldest tree in the City Botanic Gardens alive today.
L. Floods and leaning palms
You can see the effects of the 1890s floods in several palms with trunks leaning at angles. Failed attempts to upright them involved using horses, ropes and winches.
M. Fig trees
The small-leaved fig (Ficus microcarpa) is a Queensland native. The banyan tree (Ficus benghalensis) originates from India. Banyan trees can cover many acres when they are 500 to 600 years old. Their aerial roots form new trunks and the huge branches can extend a long way from the parent plant.
N. Bear pit shelter
Currently a shelter for visitors, the area was originally a bear pit enclosure with the gardens' zoological collection. During the 1930s, the zoo also had aviaries and animal compounds with deer, monkeys, a baboon and other fauna. In 1958, the zoo closed due to a gardens' conflict of interest, and because of the animal enclosures' poor state and cost of care.
O. Anzac pine and other conifers
This point of interest includes:
- On the right is a collection of pines commemorating the Anzac Gallipoli campaign. These Turkish pines (Pinus brutia) are common throughout the Mediterranean. In 1979, these pines were planted from seeds collected at Lone Pine, Gallipoli where ANZACs fought during World War I.
- On the right, you will also see a native Australian conifer hoop pine (Araucaria cunninghamii). The hoop pine was popular for building in the early days of colonisation.
- On the left is a Roxburgh pine (Pinus roxburghii) from the foothills of the Himalayas.
- Towards the fence is a Queensland kauri pine (Agathis robusta). There is also a Cook pine (Araucaria columnaris), a New Caledonia native.
- Along the fence is a bunya pine (Araucaria bidwillii). Mature trees can grow to 40 metres and the cones can weigh up to 10 kilograms. The cones contain many large, starch-filled seeds that Aboriginal people would eat raw when unripe or roasted when ripe.
P. Ornamental ponds
Harry Oakman, former manager of Brisbane City Council's Parks department and landscape architect, designed and landscaped the top ornamental pond and waterfall. It was created between 1958 and 1960. The lower ornamental pond was part of the gardens' original natural creek system.
Q. Albert Street entrance gates and fence
The Albert Street entrance gates are the oldest formal gates to the gardens. They were erected in 1865 and marked the official opening of Queen's Park. This is a public park next to the gardens. The fence was rebuilt in the 1880s using iron palisades from an earlier fence and convict-cut stone from the demolition of Brisbane's first jail. Queen's Park officially became part of the City Botanic Gardens in 1916.
R. Cuban royal palms
There is a circle of Cuban royal palms (Roystonea regia) planted in the early 20th century by then curator, Ernest Walter Bick. Where the palms are located was a cricket ground when it was part of the former Queen's Park. In the 1860s, Queen's Park was incorporated into the botanic gardens. In 1919, the lower-end of Queen's Park was filled with soil from the newly-graded riverbank to reduce flood risk. Exotic shade trees and palms including the royal palms were planted here.
S. Bunya pine walk
Walter Hill planted the row of bunya pines between 1858 and 1867. The bunya pine (Araucaria bidwillii) was named and planted here in honour of John Carne Bidwill. He was an important colonial botanist and Commissioner of Lands at Wide Bay.
T. Forest red gum, Queensland blue gum (Eucalyptus tereticornis subsp teriticornis)
The largest forest red gum trees along the riverbank are the provenance of the last remnants of the area's original vegetation. The species is a significant native habitat tree providing food and shelter for many different animals. Few of these trees are now found in the inner city.
U. Weeping fig avenue (Ficus benjamina)
This weeping fig avenue was planted in the late 1800s as a barrier between the northern boundary of the City Botanic Gardens and Queen's Park. The avenue of weeping fig (Ficus benjamina) is a significant gardens feature, connecting pedestrians from the riverside to the main entry path at Alice Street via a boardwalk installed in 2019.