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“Pleasant, leisurely, & educational - nice view from the red arrow trail”

Centenary Lakes Botanic Gardens
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Cairns City Sunset Bike Tour
Ranked #34 of 121 things to do in Cairns
Certificate of Excellence
Washington DC, District of Columbia
Level Contributor
28 reviews
16 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 39 helpful votes
“Pleasant, leisurely, & educational - nice view from the red arrow trail”
Reviewed 26 February 2010

The Cairns Botanic Gardens contains the Flecker Gardens (tropical, exotic plants), Centenary Lakes (contains rain-forest boardwalk and fresh & salt water lakes), Mt. Whitfield Conservation Park (red & blue arrow trails), and the Tanks Arts Centre.

This is a great way to leisurely spend a jet-lagged afternoon while while experiencing local and tropical plants and habitats. We started out by walking through the Flecker gardens where we saw all kinds of tropical and exotic plants, flowers, and roots - a lot of them we had never seen before and in beautiful shapes and colors. The gardens themselves were well maintained and organized.

We had a snack at the cafe then made our way across Collins Avenue to the Rain-forest boardwalk. The pamphlet was quite informative and we were able to see examples of the various plants along the boardwalk. We followed the boardwalk to the Centenary lakes. The lakes are not very clean-looking, they are actually quite brown and swampy. However, this is explained by the informative signs - the point of the lakes are to demonstrate the typcial swamp-like habitat of the local area. Along the lakes were benches where you could sit and watch the ducks and turtles among the water lilies. There was also a large, modern playground nearby with restroom facilities.

After the lakes, we made our way back across Collins Avenue to the entrance of Flecker gardens and walked along Collins Avenue until we came to a parking lot which is the entrance to the red and blue arrow trails of the Mt. Whitfield conservation park. The trails offer a walking/hiking trail through the forested hill. The red arrow trail is an easy/moderate 1.3km loop while the blue arrow trail is a difficult 5.4km loop. We opted for the easier walk. These trails must be popular with the people Cairns as a place for outdoor exercise, as we had lots people running by us. After 30 minutes of walking (with a fair amount of stairs) within a woody yet scenic incline up the hill we reached a nice viewing area. We were a little sweaty and hot due to the climb but we were rewarded with a nice view below of the Cairns airport and the ocean behind it. On the return trip there was another viewing area where the city of Cairns could be seen.

All-in-all, this was a good way to spend a couple of hours and learn a little about the local plants and get some great views of the area.

2 Thank liveitup29
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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159 reviews from our community

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English first
Level Contributor
7 reviews
4 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
“one of the best botanic gardens visited”
Reviewed 12 August 2009

REally lush and a beautiful way to spend a Sunday morning as I did. I easily caught a bus from Cairns city - $4 return, and spent 2 hours exploring the boardwalks and lush gardens. Its a huge area and perfect place for a picnic although there is a very popular cafe if you choose to eat there.

Thank Downundertravellers
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
martinez, california
Level Contributor
28 reviews
5 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 23 helpful votes
“Great afternoon or morning destination”
Reviewed 14 October 2008

This is a fabulous walking destination from downtown Cairns. The botanic garden is well marked and beautifully maintained and well worth a visit if you have any interest in gingers, exotic flowers, or unusual tropical plants. The rainforest boardwalk is very interesting and gives you an opportunity to learn a little about the various rainforest habitats found in Queensland. You can make it a quick trip or spend hours at the park. Best of all-it's all free.

Thank lisa94553
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Melbourne, Australia
Level Contributor
57 reviews
14 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 39 helpful votes
“An unexpected joy in Cairns”
Reviewed 15 September 2008

Even though I’ve been to Melbourne’s wonderful Royal Botanical Gardens many, many times and love them, I loved Cairn’s Botanic Gardens too as they are different and special, being tropical and such a contrast to my hometown. The ferns and boardwalks were gorgeous & the gardens are a great way to escape the hot sun. Definitely allow enough time to wander through all of it, and include time for a drink rest at the café as well. The formal Gardens' entrance is on Collins Avenue. Walk there in the morning & catch a bus back into town for under $3. Remember your sunscreen and a hat for the walk though!

Thank JetSetKangaroo
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Folkestone, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
75 reviews
60 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 320 helpful votes
“A really nice place to spend a few hours”
Reviewed 20 May 2008

The Centenary Lakes are a free facility next to the Botanical Gardens nearer the outskirts of Cairns. It is well worth visiting them as you can combine them with the Red / Blue Arrow walks, a visit to the Botanical Gardens and a visit to the Royal Flying Doctor Service. Also visiting the park around the lakes is free.

The main attraction is the lakes themselves - I had wanted to visit them since seeing a photo in my guidebook, so it was convenient they were near my hotel. They are a nice place to walk, cycle, have a picnic or just relax with the children or a loved one. There is a wealth of wildlife here as well as park benches and cycle paths. I believe in summer there are BBQ facilities available in the picnic area too.

In addition to the lakes you can walk along a walkway over a large section of preserved rainforest called the "Rainforest Boardwalk". There are signs along the way telling you about the plants you see and about the conservation of the rainforest. At the other end of the boardwalk is the Botanical Gardens which I didn't visit but they looked nice. Next to the gardens is the entrance to the red / blue arrow walks which provide great views of the city and the surrounding area. You can easily walk to the Flying Doctors from here too.

I would highly recommend visiting the lakes. If you're at a hotel slightly out from the centre chances are you'll be near them but if not it's a nice area to spend the morning exploring anyway. They're a place that many people seemed to forget about when I was there. I know it was winter but by European standards it was a really nice day with great weather but only a few other people were exploring the area.

4 Thank scottcabal
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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