The Gold Coast Regional Botanic Gardens is located in the Gold Coast suburb of Benowa roughly 10 minutes drive from Surfers Paradise (hmmm, this can really depend on the time of day). Its located just off an extremely noisy and busy Ashmore Rd, so the feeling of calm and serenity as you pull out of this madness and onto the circuit surrounding the parks lake, almost takes your breath away. Rosser Park, as it was originally called, is set on 31 hectares, the original 2.75 hectares donated to the City by local pioneers John and Essie Rosser in 1969. Their wish, to preserve the area as a sanctuary for native flora and fauna for the future of all Gold Coast Residents. It would be more than 20 years later that a master plan be drawn up for a true Botanic garden in this area. After almost two years of deliberation between experts council and the community the plan was accepted by the Gold Coast City council and the first plantings began in 2003. At that time I was only a fledgling to the Gold Coast, having recently moved from Melbourne and doing my Horticultural diploma, but I did hear (from my then teacher Kate Heffernan) of the the struggle getting this project off the ground was. Kate (an extremely passionate Horticulturalist) was designer and senior project officer of the gardens in its beginning and is still involved as a consultant to this day.
The really interesting thing is that when these gardens were getting off the ground, so to speak, I didn’t really know where they were located (having only lived here for short time). It wasn’t until 2014 when I was doing my stressful Kitchen Consultant role and was looking for somewhere to stop for a quick bite to eat, that I literally stumbled upon this place. I had never forgotten about the Botanic Gardens, just got lost in my busy life and never investigated any further where they were. Sitting down for lunch overlooking the peaceful lake, watching the people do yoga, walk their dogs, exercising and generally enjoying this human friendly environment reminded me of my horticultural days. It reminded me how far I was gradually moving away from the work that truly inspired me. I realized, that day, that I needed to get back on the right track and since then through a personal redirection I’m happy to say am completely immersed in plants once again.
The photos I have taken are over a few trips to the gardens and I will run you through the general concept as we take a walk about. When you first arrive at the gardens there is a one way road (speed humped and 20km speed limit from memory) that takes you around the lake with plenty of parking and another small road to the children’s play area. Apart from this you are on foot, when we arrive here we generally park down near the Sensory garden and make our way around. The Lake circuit area is both a mixture of Australian Native plants and exotics and is well established.
- Sensory Garden & display Garden:
The sensory garden is on the southern side of the lake and was created in partnership with Rotary International and Council. It is designed to stimulate the 5 senses (particularly for disabled people). This is closely followed by the display garden. It was very hard getting Mina (a keen photographer) past this section. I have some of her photos below (Crepe Myrtle shot was mine though).
From here we travel out and around the children playground area. Last time we were here (for a picnic) this area was being completely redeveloped. It is a very popular spot for young families to gather and let their children enjoy the swings and slide (sorry that was my day, I mean awesome playground area) in the safe environment of the gardens and I look forward to see how this has been transformed at our next visit. We then travel westerly towards the Gum tree corridor. To the south (left of below picture) is Lake Rosser and a large (off leash) dog park. This was once an area of great controversy at the beginning of the development as dog owners were concerned that they would loose this area to exercise their dogs, proof that if everyone works together and is willing to compromise, everyone can have a piece of the action.
- Gum Tree Corridor:
The Gum Tree corridor was planted between 2008 and 2012 by the tireless volunteers of the ‘Friends of Gold Coast Regional Botanical Gardens’. It is constantly being added to and has interesting billboards with Eucalyptus facts along the way.
From here we make our way north past a beautiful little grove of Red cedar and on to the future wetlands. This area is very interesting because it is currently full of weeds and yes a row of giant Camphor laurel trees (major tree weed through northern NSW and Southern Qld). This is testament to the lack of knowledge and in many instances utter disregard that earlier settlers had to our native bushland and animals, a trend that sadly continues today mainly through lack of knowledge and poor choices being advertised to gullible consumers. The wetland restoration project will see the removal of all exotic weeds (including Camphor) and the planting of native trees, sedges and rushes that will attract birds, frogs, insects and other animals to the area. This project will be, once again, done by volunteers who (when finished) will have a totally new respect for the environment we live in. For now though it is interesting to see this photo to compare to in 3 or 4 years time.
- Australian Defense Force Memorial Garden:
This area commemorates our fallen soldiers of the conflict in Afghanistan. The trees planted here are all rainforest trees from the Gold Coast hinterland and will provide magnificent shade as they mature in the future. The trees were provided by Bunnings Warehouse and planted by the soldiers families in 2013.
From here our walk takes us back east and onto the Mangroves to Mountains walk.
- Mangroves to Mountains:
This is a feature walk that takes you through the major plant communities of the Gold Coast region. Areas such as the ‘Montane garden’ that represents mountain tops that would otherwise only be accessible, in their natural environment, by experienced bushwalkers. The walk is wheel chair friendly and is the work of the Friends of the Gold Coast Regional Botanical Gardens and includes 30,000 plants planted in a variety of different soil types. It is also used for valuable research and to demonstrate and encourage the use of local plants. There is also a visitors centre and coffee shop along the way where you can sit down after your trek, relax, chew the fat with some experts, take in the view and even purchase a native tube stock on the way out. Below you will see a variety of different photos I have taken along this walk that leads you back out and around the lake and back to our car park at the beginning.
Back at the beginning, or is it the end.I hope you have enjoyed this weeks edition of ‘My Walkabout Plants’ and if you are ever in the area take a look at this magnificent home grown garden.