The riverside City Botanic Gardens, Brisbane’s original botanic gardens, are delightful to wander around. There’s a bamboo grove, an avenue of weeping figs, ornamental ponds much loved by ducks, ibis and other waterbirds, sculptures and fountains. You can stick to the river paths or get lost in the green.
There’s a great playground for children – all green and red – designed for all abilities, including children in wheelchairs.
The gardens were first established in 1828 to provide food for the British penal colony, but later expanded to become a true botanical garden, opening officially in 1855. The first curator, Walter Hill, was a visionary who planted and experimented with crops and plants from around the world to see if they would grow in Brisbane’s subtropical climate. It is him we have to thank for introducing mangoes, pineapples, pawpaws, custard apples, sugar cane, ginger, and many types of nuts to Queensland (sadly, also tobacco).
Since then, the gardens have gone to become one of the most lovely places in the city. You can pull up a free canvas chair to relax in, or head to the Riverstage to see what entertainment is on.
Free guided walks of the gardens leave from the rotunda at the Albert Street entrance Monday to Saturday at 11am and 1pm (except public holidays and mid-Dec to mid-Jan). They take about 1 hour. Bookings are not necessary, just turn up and join the group.
On Sundays, the colourful Riverside Markets set up at the Alice Street gates to sell handcrafts and clothing.