Maroochy Bushland Botanic Gardens
In 1997 the Sunshine Coast Council had some great forethought, they purchased 112 hectares of rainforest in the Sunshine Coast hinterland to become an oasis and an escape in the form of a botanic garden for the public. After a masterplan was drawn up, several years of construction and careful planning; the Maroochy Bushland Botanic Gardens are now a haven for native flora, fauna, kids and adults. Set on the side of a hill, the gardens comprise of a few separate gardens, connected by paths and separated by thick, lush rainforest. Enjoy the gardens, spot the wildlife, listen to the native birdsong, have a picnic or go for a walk. It is very easy to spend a few hours here.
“Can I touch it?” my youngest asks. “Absolutely!” I reply. That is one of the best things about the Sculpture Garden. Your children can wander freely to explore, touch, gaze, wonder, interpret and contemplate. Each of the sculptures is at ground level so makes for a great tactile experience and each piece is unique with varying compositions. Feel the different materials; timber and metal, rough sandstone, smooth marble. It’s a great opportunity to ask them about what they think each may be, it’s meaning, and or simply whether they like it or not. Their responses may surprise you. While they run free, the garden gives a sense of peace, it’s a great place to unwind.
Whip Bird Walk
This is a great display of nature play at it’s finest. Recently redeveloped as a children’s interactive play area, the aim is to encourage children to explore, discover and engage with nature. It’s an aim that is definitely achieved. Although simple, children seem drawn to the different areas, it appeals to their intrinsic playful and exploratory nature. There are logs to climb on, a maze of tree stumps to jump between, a naughts and crosses table and large marble eggs to rest on. Probably the stand out is the cubby made from sticks and bark.
If you’re feeling active the gardens are also home to a few different walks, some of which are a great place to take smaller children for their first bushwalk. Most are fairly short, and not too challenging, although slippery when wet.
Ephemeral Wetlands Walk: 400m
Whipbird Walk: 700m
Mossy Log Walk: 110m
Fern Glade Walk: 900m
Lagoon Walk: 900m
Creek Walk: 1300m
Upland Bushwalk: 2km (this track does have creek crossings and steep inclines)
There are guided walks run by volunteers from February to November at 9am on Tuesdays that run for approximately an hour.
Arts and Ecology Centre
At the top of the hill sits the purpose-built centre. During school holidays they host a variety of children’s workshops and activities with either no or minimal cost. Inside is a café and a wall of ecological treasures. You’ll find snake skins, birds nests, feathers and examples of artwork made by the children during the workshops.
It’s clear the differing levels of accessibility needs of the general public was catered for when landscaping the site. Concrete paths connect the bottom carpark to the top, with wheelchair parking at both sites, and some halfway up the hill. Keeping in mind the gardens are set on a rather steep hill, although not impossible it may be a bit of an effort to push a wheelchair or stroller from bottom to top. Once at each garden the terrain is flat.
The paths running through the Sculpture Garden are concrete, however, there are a few very small sections of compacted crusher dust which is fine on a sunny day. I suspect those patches might become a hazard for prams and wheelchairs in wet weather. Footwear could be very casual as the entire loop is roughly 900m and only a few very small inclines.
Whipbird Walk is not concreted, it is compacted crusher dust and gravel. A sturdy pram will be able to negotiate it in fine weather without a problem. In wet weather it may not be so easy. Proper footwear would be recommended as there is a considerable amount of leaf litter in the play spaces; and being the Australian bush there could be some creatures about. This is where making lots of noise would be encouraged and recommended!
There are numerous bathroom facilities dotted throughout the site, not just in the carpark! Each has a disability stall with baby change facilities. There is also an abundance of sheltered tables and chairs throughout the gardens. There are no domestic animals permitted in the gardens, and there are no bins. You need to take your rubbish home with you.
Onsite there is a café which is open from 9:30am to 2:30pm Monday to Thursday. It is located within the Arts and Ecology Centre at the top of the hill. They have the staples, coffee, tea, cake, milkshakes and ice-cream.
The gardens are located at 51 Palm Creek Road at Tanawha. To get there follow the Bruce Highway North, taking the Mooloolaba exit. This will put you on the Sunshine Motorway and prepare to immediately turn left at the Buderim exit. Follow the signs to Tanawha Tourist Drive, then follow the brown tourist signs to the Botanic Gardens. On the return simply follow the signs for the Sunshine Motorway and then to Brisbane.
Gate Opening Times are seasonal; from April to October 7am – 5pm and November to March 7am – 6pm.
If you want to continue the bush theme, nearby are the Buderim Falls (also known as Serenity Falls) in Buderim Forest which is another beautiful piece of greenspace saved by the council. The entrances to the falls are located at Lindsay Road or Quorn Close in Buderim. Otherwise Mooloolaba Beach is less than 10 minutes away for a swim.