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Cairns Botanic Gardens Visitor Guide

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Gabby Boucher
Updated Wed 17 Jul 2024

If you're looking for the best things to do in Cairns, put the stunning Cairns Botanic Gardens at the top of the list! Located just outside the city centre, this attraction can entertain any traveller for a few hours.

From the diverse plants and birdlife, to the meticulously landscaped gardens and walking trails, to the local events and opportunities for learning, the Cairns Botanic Gardens are a highlight of this tropical city. You'll feel like you have stepped into a lush paradise as you explore the rich greenery of this gorgeous location. The Cairns Botanic Gardens are even known as one of the best displays of tropical plants in Australia. 

Here are some handy things to know about visiting the Cairns Botanic Gardens!

two girls in hats walking through cairns botanic gardens

Cairns Botanic Gardens Visitor Guide

Here is everything you need to know about the Cairns Botanic Gardens! This sprawling complex has so much to offer travellers, and you can get lots of info at the Cairns Botanic Gardens Visitor Centre. But before you travel there, we'll answer some common FAQs so you know what to expect. 

Quick facts:

  • Address: 64 Collins Avenue, Edge Hill QLD 4870
  • Phone: 4032 6650 
  • Visitor Centre Hours: 8.30am to 4pm weekdays, 9.30am to 2pm weekends and public holidays (closed Christmas Day)
  • Flecker Gardens and Watkins Munro Martin Conservatory Hours: 7.30am to 5.30pm daily
  • All other garden areas are open 24/7

persons hand running over colourful flowers in botanic garden

How to get to Cairns Botanic Gardens?

The Cairns Botanic Gardens are located about 5km northwest of the city centre. Visitors can drive, bike, take the bus, take an Uber, join a guided tour, or walk there from downtown. If you're driving your own car or a rental car, there is plenty of parking at the Cairns Botanic Gardens as well as street parking along Collins Avenue and Greenslopes Street. A drive from Cairns to the Botanic Gardens should only take about 10 minutes. 

The Sunbus is a public bus in Cairns that stops right in front of the Cairns Botanic Gardens, making it super easy to get here via public transport. The bus ride is around 20 minutes. Or join a guided day tour of the city that includes all transport and a visit to the gardens. 

Alternatively, you could embark on a one-hour walk to the Cairns Botanic Gardens if you're hoping to sightsee or get some exercise. You could also hire a bike and cycle to the gardens in about 15 minutes. So there are lots of ways to get to the Cairns Botanic Gardens!

girl sitting at cairns botanic garden bus stop

How much does it cost to go to the Cairns Botanic Gardens?

It is free to visit the Cairns Botanic Gardens! That makes this attraction one of the best free things to do in Cairns. It's also a great attraction for travellers on a budget since there is no entrance fee. You can even join a free walking tour to learn about the flora and fauna from a knowledgeable staff member. The gardens also host bird-watching tours, heritage tours, and private tours. No bookings are required unless you are in a large group or you want to organise a private tour. 

butterflies on leaves at the cairns botanic gardens

What is there to see and do at the Cairns Botanic Gardens?

There is so much to do at the Cairns Botanic Gardens, whether you're looking to just stroll around and admire the greenery or take part in a local event. You can join guided walking tours, shop for souvenirs and art in the visitor centre, hang out in the library and cafe, or bring your kids to an interactive school event. 

As for the gardens themselves, there are several different themed gardens with their own array of sights and walks. Each garden space has a unique design and showcases a huge variety of tropical, native, and international plants. There are also a few lakes and boardwalks where you can walk through the tranquil scenery. 

Here is a list of the different sections at the Cairns Botanic Gardens:

  • Flecker Gardens
  • Aboriginal Plant Use Garden
  • Bamboo collection
  • Fitzalan Gardens
  • Gondwanan Heritage Garden
  • Watkins Munro Martin Conservatory
  • Zhanjiang Friendship Garden
  • Nature Playground
  • Rainforest Boardwalk
  • Saltwater Lake
  • Freshwater Lake

girl admiring the lake at cairns botanic gardens

How long does it take to walk around Cairns Botanic Gardens?

Most people can walk around the Cairns Botanic Gardens in about 1-2 hours. But the exact time depends on your preferences! You could easily spend 3 hours or more here if you really want to take your time, bird watch, and browse through every garden. It's actually a great place to relax with a book or a journal, so you could spend hours here soaking in the serenity. 

But if you're just doing a standard walk-through, aim to spend at least an hour at the Cairns Botanic Gardens. The complex covers around 38 hectares of gardens though, so don't be surprised if you spend longer than expected exploring. 

two girls walking through the cairns botanic gardens

Can you take dogs to the Cairns Botanic Gardens?

No, dogs and other animals are not allowed into any part of the Cairns Botanic Gardens, with the exception of registered assistance animals. This is to ensure the flora and fauna stay as clean, pure, and protected as possible. The animal restriction extends to the Centenary Lakes areas as well. 

colourful parrot on a plant at the cairns botanic gardens

Are the Cairns Botanic Gardens wheelchair accessible?

Yes, most of the Cairns Botanic Gardens are wheelchair and pram accessibleThis helps make the gardens an inclusive attraction for people with all different levels of mobility. There are, however, a few paths in the Flecker Gardens that are not suitable for wheelchairs. There are also a few sections that may require the assistance of a carer. You can find a full map of the wheelchair-accessible locations on the Cairns Regional Council website

hand pointing at a map of the cairns botanic gardens

What facilities are at the Cairns Botanic Gardens?

Facilities you can find at the Cairns Botanic Gardens include toilets, picnic areas, parking areas, a cafe, and a library. The Visitor Centre is where you can find maps and ask questions to the friendly staff if you need help getting around the complex. You can also store bags and luggage at the Visitor Centre while you explore the gardens, which is a handy perk!

cairns botanic gardens visitor center sign

Visit the Cairns Botanic Gardens on a Cairns City Sights Day Tour!

Explore more of the best things to do in Cairns, or contact our travel experts if you have more questions about your trip to Cairns!

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