Queensland is home to many beautiful botanic gardens, both in the city and the countryside, along the coast and in the outback. And luckily, if you’re both a garden lover and a dog owner, many of the gardens allow dogs on their grounds, although generally they’ll need to stay on a leash. After visiting many gardens on my recent road trip through Queensland, here’s my selection of the best dog-friendly botanic gardens in Queensland.
1. Brisbane City Botanic Gardens
You don’t need to travel far from the centre of Brisbane to discover one of the best dog-friendly botanic gardens in Queensland. While the larger Mt Coot-tha Botanic Gardens sadly doesn’t allow dogs, the Brisbane City Botanic Gardens allows dogs on leash to visit the city centre gardens.
An oasis of green next to the skyscrapers of the Brisbane city centre, these historic botanic gardens take up the southern end of the CBD peninsula, next to the colonial Parliament House and Old Government House buildings. The gardens actually pre-date these buildings – they were firstly declared a botanic reserve in 1855.
The City Botanic Gardens have plenty of beautiful spots to enjoy a picnic with your pup. Or else just take a stroll past the palm-surrounded lagoons, through the bamboo stand and meander down to the patch of rainforest. To see all the highlights, follow this self-guided walk.
The gardens are easily reached on foot along the riverside boardwalk or across the car-free Goodwill Bridge from Southbank. Alternatively, catch a dog-friendly ferry to the gardens (don’t forget your muzzle!), with the closest terminal the Riverside Ferry Terminal.
2. Queens Park Botanic Gardens, Toowoomba
For another beautiful historic garden close to Brisbane, drive just 1hr 40 minutes to the west to Toowoomba, also known as the “Garden City” thanks to it being home to over 250 gardens and parks, many that are dog-friendly.
The highlight of Toowoomba’s gardens and parks are the Queens Park Botanic Gardens. Part of the centrally located Queens Park, adjacent to the city’s centre, these heritage-listed botanic gardens were established in the 1870s and are still beautifully maintained.
The Queens Park Botanic Gardens form the centrepiece of the annual Carnival of Flowers, held each year in September. They are particularly magnificent with the massed colourful flower displays planted to coincide with the festival, but are still beautiful to visit any time of year, with its heritage trees and monuments.
Dogs on a leash are welcome to join you in the Botanic Gardens. Don’t also miss taking advantage of the off-leash area in Queens Park, not far from the edge of the Botanic Gardens, before or after your visit. Keep an eye out for the signs at the boundary lines.
Dogs are also welcome in a number of other of the beautiful gardens in Toowoomba, including Laurel Bank Park and the Japanese Ju Raku En Gardens.
3. Maleny Botanic Gardens
Not all the magnificent botanic gardens in Queensland are publicly owned, with the Maleny Botanic Gardens a wonderful privately run garden. Despite charging an admission fee, it’s still worth visiting, whether on a dog-friendly day-trip or as part of a longer visit to the Sunshine Coast Hinterland.
One of the highlights of a visit to the Maleny Botanic Gardens are the beautiful views of the Glass House Mountains from all over the steeply sloped gardens. As I wandered through the colourful flower beds I never tired of the stunning vistas. There’s also countless waterfalls and ponds dotted throughout the gardens, taking advantage of the steep slope.
Dogs are welcome to join you at the gardens, with free entry, although they need to stay on leash and aren’t allowed in the additional aviary section. It’s possible to rent a golf cart for an hour so that you don’t need to walk up and down the slopes, with dogs also allowed on the carts.
The gardens are located just outside of the town of Maleny. It’s also a steep road down to the gardens, so I’d recommend not visiting while towing a caravan.
4. Kershaw Gardens, Rockhampton
Another city with a heritage-listed botanic gardens that dates to the 1870s is Rockhampton. Unfortunately, domestic animals are not permitted to visit these gardens, which includes a free entry zoo, but dogs are instead permitted to visit Kershaw Gardens in North Rockhampton.
The Kershaw Gardens were established more recently, with a focus on Australian native plants, planted in a simulated bushland environment. The highlight of the gardens when we visited them was the Waterfall area, with multiple man-made waterfalls beautifully cascading into a pool below, surrounded by lush palms. Just keep your dog firmly on a leash so they don’t chase the water dragons!
Unfortunately, the gardens were majorly damaged by a cyclone some years ago, and not all of the gardens have yet been revitalised, including the Wetlands area immediately south of the Waterfall area. The most recently completed project is the central picnic area and splash park. However, the gardens should continue to improve over the next few years.
The gardens are also home to some facilities for dogs. At the southern end of the gardens, closest to the Dowling Street Car Park, is an off-leash exercise area for dogs, although we didn’t check it out. We parked at the Charles Street Car Park, which is next to a small fenced off-leash park with agility equipment. The closest carpark to the Waterfall area is the High Street Car Park.
5. Mackay Regional Botanic Gardens
Heading further north, another excellent dog-friendly botanic garden in Queensland are the Mackay Regional Botanical Gardens. Not far from the centre of Mackay and just off the Bruce Highway, these gardens have been planted alongside two long lagoons, making for some great bird watching opportunities.
If you’re just making a brief visit, I recommend picking up the brochure with the self-guided introductory walk, which is just 750m long. It’ll take you past the beautiful Malta Garden, a carpet of golden everlasting daisies and many fascinating cycads. You’ll also have the opportunity to stop at the lagoon viewing platform, where there’s a handy guide to the most common waterbird species at the lagoon.
There’s also longer walking paths that extend to the far reaches of the gardens, ideal for a longer visit. Leashed dogs are welcome throughout the gardens, except in the enclosed shade garden. Unfortunately, at the time of our visit dogs were also not permitted at the cafe, even at the tables on the verandah, so I recommend bringing a picnic lunch.
6. The Palmetum, Townsville
The northern city of Townsville is home to not just one but three botanic gardens, scattered throughout the city and each with their own distinctive focus and style. Dogs are welcome in all three of the gardens, as long as they are kept on a leash.
Close to the Strand is the historic but compact Queens Gardens, with beautiful vistas up to Castle Hill through the trees, while Anderson Gardens are the largest of the three. However, my pick of the gardens are the Palmetum, on the southern side of the city near the main university campus.
The Palmetum is home to a huge collection of the palm trees, one of the largest and most diverse collections anywhere in the world, not just in Australia. In particular we loved the rainforest section, a wonderful shady spot to go for a stroll even on warm days. Our dog loved his walk, constantly stopping and sniffing alongside the paved path!
The Palmetum is also home to a savannah zone surrounding a lagoon, with plenty of room on the grassy lawns to enjoy a picnic. Alternatively, check out Absolute Cravings in the historic Tumbetin Lodge, near the carpark. This cafe is open from Tuesday to Sunday for breakfast and lunch, and has a pet-friendly policy.
7. Cooktown Botanic Gardens
For another tropical dog-friendly botanic gardens in Queensland, head further north to Cooktown. This historic outpost north of Cairns is home to one of Queensland’s oldest regional botanic gardens, with a special focus on the plants collected by botanists Joseph Banks and Daniel Solander on the Endeavour voyage.
First established in 1878, the gardens were abandoned for most of the 20th-century, but have luckily been rescued and are these days a lush and beautiful must-visit site to visit in Cooktown. Take your time on the half-kilometre paved loop walk around the garden, with plenty of signs about the different plant species, plus interesting historical aspects.
There’s also a number of walking tracks that start from the gardens and can be used to reach the gardens, including the 800m-long walking track to Finch Bay. Pet dogs are allowed inside the gardens on a leash and on most of the walking tracks, except into the nearby Mount Cook National Park.
A popular dog-friendly dining spot in Cooktown is the cafe in the gardens, next to the carpark. The cafe was recommended to me multiple times, both for lunch or just to enjoy a coffee and cake. There’s plenty of outdoor seating plus a water bowl for dogs. Just be aware the kitchen closes fairly early!
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About the Author
Shandos Cleaver is the founder of Travelnuity: Dog-Friendly Travel. She has travelled extensively with her Miniature Dachshund, Schnitzel, including to 33 countries across Europe, every state and territory of Australia except Tasmania, and 10 of the United States. She’s passionate about providing inspiration and information to others wanting to travel with their dogs, whether close to home or internationally.