#1 Australian National Botanic Gardens, Canberra, ACT

    If diversity is what you’re after, check out the Australian National Botanic Gardens in Canberra. Tucked away at the base of Black Mountain, about a 30-minute walk west of the CBD, the gardens boast a collection of over 6,300 different native species. Catch a whiff of chewing gum while strolling around, and it’s likely to be the distinctive scent of the chef’s cap correa (Correa baeuerlenii), a shrub with long, greenish-yellow tubular flowers. The Rainforest Gully, pictured, is another highlight: wooden boardwalks wind through a mist-filled valley of plants from the rainforests of Australia’s eastern coastline.

    Photo Credit: Lushpup Images

    #1 Australian National Botanic Gardens, Canberra, ACT

    The Central Meeting Place in the Red Centre Garden features an Aboriginal pavement artwork by artist Teresa Pula McKeeman. 

    Rimmed by the 430 ha Black Mountain Nature Reserve, opportunities abound for wildlife sightings, including water dragons, echidnas and swamp wallabies.

    Look out for: The ACT’s faunal emblem, the gang-gang cockatoo, and the chef’s cap correa (Correa baeuerlenii). 

    Photo Credit: A. Tatnell, Department of the Environment

    #2 Kyneton and Malmsbury botanic gardens, Macedon Ranges, Vic

    These gardens in the Macedon Ranges, north-west of Melbourne, are over 150 years old, making them some of the earliest regional botanic gardens in Victoria. The site of the Malmsbury Botanic Garden in the town centre was cleared of all native plants prior to its establishment in the 1850s, when the town was still a bustling service centre for travellers heading to the goldfields. 

    Photo Credit: Heather Thorning

    #2 Kyneton and Malmsbury botanic gardens, Macedon Ranges, Vic

    Today, Malmsbury is a small town of about 600 people, but you can still see the bunya pine (Araucaria bidwillii) and sugar gum (Eucalyptus cladocalyx), believed to be original plantings.

    Keep an eye out for a concrete pit that served as a trout hatchery in the 1950s and 60s to restock the Malmsbury reservoir.

    Photo Credit: Heather Thorning

    #2 Kyneton and Malmsbury botanic gardens, Macedon Ranges, Vic

    In nearby Kyneton, visitors are greeted at the front gate by the Chilean wine palm (Jubaea chilensis), whose trunk strongly resembles a wine bottle. From there, wide lawns slope down towards the Campaspe River.

    Kyneton and Malmsbury are located about 87km north-west of Melbourne.

    Look out for: California redwoods (Sequoia sempervirens) in Malmsbury and the Chilean wine palm (Jubaea chilensis) in Kyneton.

    Photo Credit: Macedon Ranges Shire Council

    #3 Hunter Valley Gardens, Pokolbin, NSW

    The sleepy village of Pokolbin in the Hunter Valley, about 120km north of Sydney, is best known for the numerous wineries surrounding it. However, those looking for something a little different, or perhaps somewhere quiet to rest a throbbing head, need look no further than the Hunter Valley Gardens.

    Photo Credit: Chris Elfes, courtesy of Hunter Valley Gardens

    #3 Hunter Valley Gardens, Pokolbin, NSW

    Husband and wife team Bill and Imelda Roche started constructing the gardens in 1999 on a site that was originally horse paddocks and vineyards. Four years later, with the help of over 40 gardeners, architects and engineers, the gardens were completed.

    With 10 themed feature gardens spread across more than 25 ha, there’s something to please everyone here, from the Rose Garden, to the Oriental Garden (pictured) and the Italian Grotto. 

    Photo Credit: Ken Duncan, courtesy of Hunter Valley Gardens

    #4 The Australian Garden, Cranbourne, Vic

    It’s easy to see why these award-winning gardens in Melbourne’s south-east have garnered widespread attention since they first opened in 2006. Filled with dramatic colours and striking architecture, they were designed to showcase the diversity and beauty of Australian native plants.

    Photo Credit: Janusz Molinski

    #4 The Australian Garden, Cranbourne, Vic

    The gardens comprise several different landscape displays, however the most striking of them all is the Red Sand Garden, which showcases the vibrant colours of Central Australia.

    The gardens also incorporate artificial dry river beds, lakes, and rivers throughout to demonstrate the decisive role water plays in the Australian landscape. The suburb of Cranbourne, where these gardens can be found, is about 40km from Melbourne’s CBD.

    Look out for: The Water Saving Garden, an exhibition for water-saving ideas at home.

    Photo Credit: Janusz Molinski

    #5 Maleny Botanic Gardens, Maleny, Qld

    These gardens began as the vision of South African-born Frank Shipp, who moved to the Sunshine Coast north of Brisbane with the express purpose of finding a site to establish his gardens. He found an idyllic property 80km north-west of Brisbane surrounded by rainforest and with views of the nearby Glasshouse Mountains.

    Photo Credit: Zoogarti Photography

    #5 Maleny Botanic Gardens, Maleny, Qld

    The gardens are now 6 ha and growing every day, with manicured lawns, waterfalls and tropical flowers. Plants range from roses and azaleas through to native trees, frangipanis and about 4000 varieties of orchid, donated to the garden from an extensive private collection. You can also find some of the world’s rarest cycads, brought over from South Africa.

    Look out for: Wood’s cycad (Encephalartos woodii), one of the rarest plants in the world and extinct in the wild.

    Photo Credit: Zoogarti Photography

    #6 Western Australian Botanic Garden, Perth, WA

    In its 50th year, this botanic garden lies 1.5km west of Perth’s CBD and is devoted to the conservation of flora endemic to Western Australia.

    Situated on Mount Eliza, the gardens have spectacular views of Perth City and the Swan River. A must-see here is the 750-year old giant boab tree (Adansonia gregorii) known as ‘Gija Jumulu’. The tree was gifted to the gardens in 2008 by local Aboriginal people the Gija. The tree weighs 36 tonnes, about five times the weight of an elephant. It was given a police escort for its 3200km journey south to its new home in Perth.

    Photo Credit:

    #6 Western Australian Botanic Garden, Perth, WA

    Boab trees aside, the gardens have many attractions: stroll through the forest canopy on the Lotterywest Federation Walkway, a 620m-long glass and steel bridge (pictured); watch the honeyeaters in the Grevillea and Hakea Garden; explore the Conservation Garden, where about 400 of WA’s endangered plants can be found, or enjoy some live music and outdoor theatre.

    Look out for:The silver princess (Eucalyptus caesia), a eucalypt with silver, urn-shaped gumnuts; and the boab tree (Adansonia gregorii) known as ‘Gija Jumulu’.

    Photo Credit: Botanic Gardens and Parks Authority

    #7 Australian Arid Lands Botanic Garden, Port Augusta, SA

    Astounding birdlife, mangroves and the ancient Flinders Ranges make this botanic garden in South Australia truly unique. Located in Port Augusta, 280km north-west of Adelaide, the Australian Arid Lands Botanic Garden was opened at its site near the head of Spencer Gulf in 1993. 

    Photo Credit: Georgie Sharp

    #7 Australian Arid Lands Botanic Garden, Port Augusta, SA

    Now, the garden is home to a diverse range of plants, as well as over 150 different bird species that can be observed from the bird hides onsite. A walk to the eastern edge of the garden will bring you to high clay cliffs overlooking the upper reaches of Spencer Gulf, with beaches and grey mangroves below.

    Look out for: The extensive Emu Bush (Eremophila) garden.

    Photo Credit: Georgie Sharp

    #8 Alice Springs Desert Park, Alice Springs, NT

    Tucked away at the base of the MacDonnell Ranges in Australia’s Red Centre is the Alice Springs Desert Park. The park holds over 400 different plant species in three different desert habitats: desert river, sand country and woodland.

    Local Aboriginal guides are available for tours, highlighting the interconnectedness of plants, animals, people and the landscape. 

    Photo Credit: Alice Springs Desert Park

    #8 Alice Springs Desert Park, Alice Springs, NT

    Observe bilbies, thorny devils, and mala in the nocturnal house, or feel the adrenalin surge as birds of prey swoop just inches above your head in the nature theatre, the park’s outdoor amphitheatre.

    The Alice Springs Desert Park is a 10-minute drive west from the centre of Alice Springs.

    Look out for: Desert bloodwood trees (Corymbia opaca); and the mala or rufous hare-wallaby (Lagorchestes hirsutus).

    Photo Credit: Alice Springs Desert Park

    #9 Australian Botanic Garden, Mount Annan, NSW

    The largest botanic garden in Australia at 416 ha, the Australian Botanic Garden at Mount Annan lies 57km south-west of Sydney’s CBD.

    The native plant garden of Sydney’s Royal Botanic Gardens, the site at Mount Annan is a mixture of tended grounds and natural growth areas of remnant vegetation. Outdoor sculptures are dotted throughout the landscape and a 20km-long network of paths provides plenty of opportunities for exploration.

    Photo Credit: Simone Cottrell

    #9 Australian Botanic Garden, Mount Annan, NSW

    A purpose-built mountain bike trail runs opposite the Big Idea Garden, where you’ll find tips to make your garden more sustainable, while free barbecues and extended summer opening hours make this a great place for family picnics in the warmer months.

    Look out for: The Wollemi pine (Wollemia nobilis) collection, which includes a clone of each of the 100 or so known plants that still exist in the wild, and the Fruit Loop Garden of edible or medicinal Australian plants.

    Photo Credit: Jaime Plaza

    #10 Queens Gardens, Townsville, Qld

    The history of these heritage-listed gardens in Townsville is almost as interesting as the gardens themselves. Established in 1870 as a place to trial food plants, the gardens were initially home to exotic species such as cocoa, African oil palms and mangoes.

    In 2011, cyclone Yasi’s Category Four-strength winds decimated a third of the garden’s trees.

    Photo Credit: Michael Chambers

    #10 Queens Gardens, Townsville, Qld

    Today, the gardens are mostly comprised of ornamental tropical plants, providing a cool haven to retreat to from the city centre 1km south. However, some of the original plants such as the hoop pine (Araucaria cunninghamii) and the black bean tree (Castanospermum australe), can still be found.

    Set against the cliffs of Castle Hill, an iconic granite monolith in the heart of the city, and with the water’s edge just in front, these gardens are truly picturesque.

    Look out for: The rain tree (Samanea saman) at the Kennedy Lane entrance, believed to be 120 to 140 years old, and a disfigured hoop pine (Araucaria cunninghamii), courtesy of cyclones Althea and Yasi.

    Photo Credit: Michael Chambers

Gallery: Australia’s top 10 botanic gardens

By AG STAFF | October 9, 2015

While there’s no legal accreditation to become a botanic garden, it’s generally held that these gardens should involve some sort of scientific study. Of course, for the everyday lover of flowers and plants, the term simply represents a place to enjoy some of the best sights and smells nature has to offer. Australia is home to a terrifically diverse range of natural environments, and some of the best plant life in the world. So, whether your interest is in science, leisure or just a good place to picnic, check out our list of Australia’s top 10 botanic gardens.