With so many things to see and discover, one visit is just not enough to see all that the Cairns Botanic Gardens has to offer.

So when planning your visit, pick which parts of the Garden you want to explore and spend a day.

Aboriginal Plant Use Garden


The Rainforest Aboriginal people of our region were hunter gatherers who used rainforest plants as a major source of food, shelter, medicine, clothing, utensils, tools and weapons. The Aboriginal Plant Use Garden showcases many of the local plants that were important to the local inhabitants.

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Bamboo Collection

Bamboo is an important plant in many cultures serving a diverse range of uses from food and construction material, to paper pulp, handicrafts and musical instruments.

Temperate species of bamboo generally display a running character, which makes them very difficult to control in a garden environment.  A good example is the fish pole bamboo (Phyllostachys aurea) from China which can be seen at the start of the Mount Whitfield Conservation Park.

Most of the bamboos cultivated at Cairns Botanic Gardens are tropical species which tend to be clumping in habit.  The enormous size of some species such as Dendrocalamus giganteus, makes these plants only suitable for large gardens or parks.  With culm diameter measuring up to 25cm and height up to 30 metres, it is an imposing feature in the landscape.

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Fitzalan Gardens

Fitzalan Gardens comprise three separate gardens, connected by paths and footbridges. The gardens house a small water lily pond; giant mature palms and trees planted many years ago. The gardens are designed to hide several nooks and crannies, offering you private spaces to relax and enjoy the atmosphere.

The Fitzalan Gardens are named after Mr Eugene Fitzalan, the first caretaker (1886 - 1897) of the Botanic Gardens.

You can access Fitzalan Gardens across the road, Collins Avenue, from either the main entrance of the Flecker Garden or the Visitor Centre.

Flecker Gardens

Flecker Garden epitomises the diversity of tropical flora that can be found across the world's tropical regions including plants from the steamy jungles of South East Asia, South America, Africa and of course Far North Queensland.

Situated on Collins Avenue, the Garden is home to a broad range of plants ranging from shade giving trees and palms, exquisite orchids, bromeliads and ferns through to the bizarre beauty of insect eating pitcher plants.

Once inside the Garden, visitors feel they have been transported to the Daintree, with the Garden's signature trees creating a green canopy guarding the plant collection that is interspersed with flowing paths and waterways winding their way through the leafy undergrowth.

Freshwater Lake

Freshwater Lake, established in 1975 to celebrate the Cairns City Council centenary, was created from a three hectare freshwater swamp that originally existed on the site. The lake is decorated by a patchwork of water-lilies (Nymphaea sp.) that provides shelter for several species of frogs, fish and turtles.

A swampy, safe haven, the lake is also home to many bird species and, depending on the season, visitors can expect to see magpie geese, black ducks, black-necked storks and cormorants.

The Freshwater Lake is an ideal place for a family outing with sheltered picnic sites, free BBQs, a children's playground and public toilets.

The Freshwater Lake can be accessed by road from Greenslopes St or by foot along the Rainforest Boardwalk.

Gondwana Heritage Garden

Emphasis is placed on the Gondwanan component of the plant kingdom and in particular the development of the distinctive Australian Wet Tropics Flora.

The garden is divided into zones, representing different stages of plant evolution. There is also an explanatory brochure at the start of the trail and from the Visitor Centre.

Australia's Gondwanan Heritage Garden is located between Flecker Garden and the Visitor Centre.

Rainforest Boardwalk

The boardwalk allows the visitor to imagine what the coastal areas of Cairns once looked like before settlement.  Sadly, this shrinking ecosystem that once dominated the region has all but disappeared, apart from the small patch around the boardwalk and a few other locations.

This special environment has been home for years to an endangered plant called the Layered Tassel Fern (Huperzia phlegmarioides) which once thrived in this habitat.  It is now on the Queensland Government Endangered Species list and is becoming as rare as the ecosystem in which it lives.

Apart from the amazing plant life existing along the walk, visitors should also watch out for the Lovely Fairy Wren (Malurus amabilis) which frequents the area.

The western end of the boardwalk is located across Collins Avenue from the Main Gate. The eastern end is adjacent to the Saltwater Creek footbridge that accesses the Saltwater Lake.

Saltwater Lake

Bordered by the ocean, Cairns and surrounds are abundant with saltwater flora and fauna. Saltwater Lake illustrates these diverse ecosystems on a small scale.

Filled by tidal waters from the adjacent Saltwater Creek, the lake displays the delicate balance that exists between water, plants and animals within a saltwater environment.

Saltwater Lake and Saltwater Creek are surrounded by mangroves that supply food to marine animals and provide breeding grounds for species such as prawns and mud crabs. They also provides habitat for many birds.

Saltwater Lake grounds are planted with a wide variety of tropical fruit trees and shrubs. You will also find a raised, no-dig garden bed filled with tropical vegetables.

Facilities in this garden include picnic shelters, BBQs and a children's playground.

The Saltwater Lake can be accessed by road from Greenslopes St or by foot along the Rainforest Boardwalk.

Watkins Munro Martin Conservatory

The Watkins Munro Martin Conservatory is modelled on the Cairns Regional Council Logo; the Licuala Palm. The structure was built in 2015 to safely house and exhibit some of the Gardens' most valuable and tender plants and a collection of local butterflies.

Inside the Conservatory you will find aroids including Cairns Botanic Gardens’ significant amorphophallus collection, bromeliads including tillandsias, carnivorous plants, cycads, ferns, palms, orchids and tassel ferns.

The Conservatory is situated inside Flecker Garden opposite the main gate.