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Ultimate guide to Sunshine Coast gardens

byHillary Smith-09 Apr 2018

Ultimate garden guide

The Sunshine Coast boasts some of Queensland's most beautiful gardens and natural settings. From stunning national parks and reserves, botanic gardens featuring exquisite exotic and native flora, as well as gardening festivals held across the coast throughout the year – there is so much to see and do.


The Sunshine Coast is abuzz with gardening events throughout the year. Not to be missed is the Queensland Garden Expo held 13 - 15 July at the Nambour Showgrounds. The Expo is a three-day celebration of gardening with a program including presentations,  exhibitors, lectures, demonstrations, a cooking stage and more. You may need to stay the weekend to see it all!

The annual Gympie Garden Expo is held on the first weekend of May and features a program of fascinating plant displays, informative talks, a plant clinic, garden stalls, arts and craft stalls, a compost corner, plant competitions, and guest speakers. 

The Ginger Flower and Food Festival is held at the Ginger Factory in Yandina each January. For three days, the park bursts alive with colour, showcasing the largest and most exquisite range of ornamental gingers and heliconias that thrive in the sunshine Coast's sub-tropical climate. 

If that is not enough gardening events the Sunshine Coast also hosts the Maleny Wood Expo that incorporates a gardening element, and for a bit of quirky fun and pumpkin antics get to the Goomeri Pumpkin Festival.

A number of private gardens are also opened throughout the year across the coast with the Gardening on the Edge weekend event being a great way to see lots of beautiful local gardens. If you are a food and beverage buff (as many gardeners are) then check out these Sunshine Coast food and beverage festivals

Queensland Garden Expo on in July is a must do for all green thumbs!
Queensland Garden Expo on in July is a must do for all green thumbs!

National Parks, Forests and Reserves

The Sunshine Coast is a mecca for natural wonders, and the stunning national parks, forests and reserves across the coast are no exception.

The iconic Glass House Mountains are picturesque from every angle and home to more than 150 species of native plants including scribbly gums, bottle brush, and stringybark.  Appreciate the charms of this heritage-listed national park on a gentle forest stroll or more strenuous day hike - and keep an eye out for native wildlife including echidnas, kangaroos and wallabies. There are a number of picnic areas and facilities throughout the park, so pack some sandwiches, find a scenic outlook and be serenaded by the local birdlife as you relax al fresco. If you're short on time, head straight to the Glass House Mountains lookout on Woodford Road to enjoy absolutely spectacular views of the moutain peaks and forested valley below. 

TIP: Always check the Department of National Parks, Sport and Racing for conditions and alerts before you set off on a hike in the Glass House Mountains National Park.

Buderim Forest Park is tucked away on the north side of Buderim, just 10 minutes from Mooloolaba Beach. This hidden gem is a 45ha wonderland of mature trees and cascading waterfalls, and is also home to an abundance of birdlife. Enjoy a peaceful bush walk and take in the fresh clean air and natural beauty of this breathtaking nature reserve. 

TIP: Even though this is a reserve, dogs are not permitted in Buderim Forest Park. 

Maleny's Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve is a living museum of plant and animal life. This subtropical rainforest reserve has a new world class discovery centre where you'll discover a world of fascinating information about local plants and native animals.  The 55ha walking tracks have also been upgraded providing a choice of accessible trails through the majestic rainforest. Take in the view of the Glass House Mountains from the new café or enjoy a BBQ or picnic at the park grounds. 

The iconic Glass House Mountains
The iconic Glass House Mountains

Botanical Gardens

The Maroochy Regional Bushland Botanic Garden located at Tanawah showcases plants native to the Sunshine Coast. The 82ha garden includes forested areas featuring eucalypt and riparian open forest, and creek-side rainforest, featuring lagoons, palm-filled gullies and walking tracks. Home to many birds and animals, the garden has a wonderful range of plants in bushland and landscaped areas that play an important role in conservation of native endangered species. The garden also has an arts and ecology centre hosting art exhibitions and educational workshops throughout the year.  Pick up a map from the ecology centre and take a self-guided walk around the gardens, or join a  guided walking tour departing every Tuesday morning from 9 am from the ecology centre (February to November). 

The Maleny Botanic Gardens and Bird World is situated on 44ha with the magnificent gardens covering 16ha. The gardens are surrounded by a pristine rainforest with spectacular views of the Glass House Mountains. There are over 6km of walking paths which will take you an enchanting journey to discover stunning lookouts and enchanting rainforests. The paths meander around thousands of different plants ranging from roses, azaleas and annuals to some of the rarest cycads in the world. The gardens are complemented by numerous lakes and waterfalls providing perfect photo opportunities for budding photographers. The bird aviary is a haven of colourful birds from around the world and walk through guided tours are offered daily. 

Noosa Botanic Gardens are a short drive from Cooroy on the shores of Lake McDonald. With beautiful water views over the lake, the gardens are ideal for a leisurely stroll or a family picnic. The garden comprises of 8ha of native and exotic plant species, and are home to an abundance of wildlife. There are numerous specialised plant collections including Camellia collection, Malvaceae family collection, the Arid garden and many more. The garden also features an open-air bush chapel, a fern house, a lily pond, large lawn area with winding paths, and a Greek style amphitheatre. Events are held at the gardens throughout the year and guided walks are available at the gardens by trained volunteer guides, including guided seasonal walks.

The picturesque Maleny Botanic Gardens and Bird World
The picturesque Maleny Botanic Gardens and Bird World


You may be surprised to discover some of our attractions also boast some fantastic gardens! Alongside the animals, Australia Zoo is home to  a stunning array of native and exotic flora and landscaped gardens. While you are there, take a wander around the various animal exhibits and enclosures to see Australian natives and discover exquisite African, American and Asian plant species. The Ginger Factory also has beautiful tropical gardens set over several acres. The gardens have a range exotic plants including numerous species of ginger, beautiful water features and tranquil places to sit and relax. The best part is the gardens are free to enter and explore. Or, drop in for a coffee and wander through the living hedge maze at Bellingham Maze, Tanawah. The maze hedge has a new 80 x 80m star-shaped lilly pilly hedge that took 20 months to grow, replacing the original cypress hedge maze.

The Ginger Factory boasts a beautiful tropical garden
The Ginger Factory boasts a beautiful tropical garden

Working farm gardens

Perhaps you are more of a produce gardener and would like to try a local paddock to plate experience, or see a working farm and pick your own produce. The Sunshine Coast is a foodie paradise and there are a number of locally-farmed, home-grown and organic gardens that you are able to visit and explore. Strawberry Fields at Palmview, Cooloola Berries at Wolvi, McMartins Farm in Bli Bli, and Hinterland Feijoas at Belli Park are all local farms where you can experience a working farm and even pick your own local produce. Or try Flame Hill Vineyard for a lovely stroll in the vineyard and taste delicious paddock to plate fare.

Taste the coast’s fresh local produce at a working farm
Taste the coast’s fresh local produce at a working farm


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