Without doubt, Cairns city, is one of the most popular tropical holiday destination in Australia. It has one of the most beautiful, interesting and attractive tropical gardens in Far North Queensland Region. It is simply a tropical paradise right here, in the heart of this beautiful city of Cairns.
Just located within ten minutes of drive from the heart of Cairns city centre is the Cairns Centenary Lakes. A lush tropical rainforest oasis that awaits, welcoming its visitors with a piece of taste of tropical rainforest plants. A place that will leave you with a mixture of tropical plants and wildlife experience. It is a place that will keep you coming back and you will never get bored, every time you visit this idyllic location. It is one of my most favourite place in this city.
This Freshwater Lake created in 1975 in a 3-hectare freshwater swamp already existed on the site is an ideal place for visitors and families to come and enjoy the place. It is a great picnic location with sheltered picnic sites, free BBQs, an outdoor nature-park playground for children and public ammenities.
This place is one of the great outdoor recreational place for families, travellers, garden lovers, birdwatchers, photographers and anyone that simply prefer to escape the hustle and bustle of urban activities and attractions.
Centenary Lake is not just a place to sit back, relax and enjoy the tropical beauty and wildlife. This place has always plenty to do and it is a lush beauty and a great place that certainly invites leisurely exploration. It is beautiful, interesting, peaceful and relaxing place that is good for your mind, body and soul. It always give me a feeling of self-satisfaction, everytime I wander around this lake and the gardens.
Here you have the Freshwater and a Saltwater Pond at one end, Boardwalks through tropical rainforest in the middle and Cairns Botanical Gardens at the other end. They are all linked together by footpath and boardwalks that are easy and flat ground walking. The tourists to the city in particular will enjoy the fantastic views of the Lakes, lush tropical plants and wildlife.
This lake is one of the a great and unique place to visit. Here, you not only get the opportunity to get close to nature but you get the chance to see the lush exotic tropical rainforest plants and wildlife all in one location. You don’t have to travel far out of the city to experience this tropical rainforest paradise that is just within minutes from Cairns city centre.
The Freshwater Lake and Botanical Gardens located approximately distance of 3-5 kilometres from Cairns city centre makes it one of the most easily accessible place to visit by foot, public bus and self-drive. The lake has no gated boundary can be easily accessed from Greenslope street and Collins Avenue along Whitfield area. Since, the entrance to the lake has no gate, anyone can visit the area throughout the day or at night time.
Exploring the area
Once you enter the place, there is lots to see and do in the area. This is one of my favourites places to visit in Cairns. The great thing about this place, it is entirely easily accessible to get around this beautiful gardens without any help. This is one of the places that I am able to come and visit this beautiful and pristine location all year around. Here, I take my time leisurely strolling around the area exploring and enjoying wildlife and its rich diversity of flora and fauna. There are certain areas in Centenary Lake that offers few kinds of experience that I enjoy most: the Rainforest Boardwalk, Chinese Garden, Lake, Water-lilies and Wildlife. Regular visitors will know that each has a special feel all its own.
One of the unique attraction of this Lake is definitely the water-lilies with their majestic bright colorful flowers, depending on the season. This lake decorated by a patchwork of colourful water-lilies provides shelter for several species of frogs, fish, plants, flowers, ducks, butterflies and turtles. It is an area where you have spectacular time exploring this beautiful city backyard and enjoying nature with all variety of colourful water- lilies – red, pink, white, purple or combination of all.
The lakes swampy area is a safe haven for many bird species, depending on the season. This lake can be filled with abundance of birdlife and other species of birds that migrate to this location each year, while other wildlife makes it their permanent home for their hunting and playground.
With plants and lilies blooming with colourful flowers and migration of several bird species to the area creates a spectacular scene to look at for both nature lovers and photographers paradise. Any visitors making their way to this location can expect to see magpie geese, black ducks, black-necked storks, white Egrets, darter and cormorants.
On Centenary Lakes southside is the main entrance to the Chinese Garden on Greenslope street, with four bright red coloured pillars surrounded by bamboos which is highly visible from the road. This instantly gives you an impression of Chinese garden atmosphere. Once you enter through the entrance, you see the beautiful pathways, variety of tropical plants, bamboos, and cycad plants leading to the Chinese temple. A great place to sit down and enjoy the 360′ view of the lake.
My favourite part of the Centenary Freshwater Lakes is the Rainforest Boardwalk. From the boardwalk it connects to Cairns Flecker Botanical Gardens in Collins Avenue. As you walk along, you’ll see sweeping branches, flawless outlines and ordered internal structure, incredible birdlife and the lush and exotic tropical plants are revealed.
It was once an unfriendly boardwalk with very narrow wooden pathway but since the boardwalk has been rebuilt and widen, it is easily accessible for prams, wheelchairs and anyone that can stroll along without been rushed. This walk will give you the taste of what it is like to be going on an adventure to experiencing lush thick tropical rainforest, further north of Cairns to Daintree-Cape Tribulation area.
This boardwalk not only set its site on enjoying the lush tropical natural plants and the rainforest experience but gives you an in depth information on the flora and fauna along the way and what you might expect to see. It is quite educational to take a time to read what is in the area and expect to see.
The rainforest boardwalk connecting Centenary Lakes to the Botanical Gardens in Cairns, far north Queensland allows the visitors to imagine what the coastal areas of Cairns once looked like before settlement.
The western end of the boardwalk is located across Collins Avenue from the Main Gate and the eastern end is adjacent to the Saltwater Creek footbridge that accesses the Saltwater Lake and mangroves.
If you want peace, beauty, tranquility and a bit of light adventure, this boardwalk is the ideal place. As you go along the boardwalk, you will get to see the amazing tropical plant life existing along the walk and the birdlife is in its abundance.
In particular, having vegetation muffle sounds and trees block views to buildings, roads and other obvious constructions helps me take my mind off the hustle and bustle of urban life. I think, most of us relax and feel better in the presence of trees or lush tropical plants. This area is very popular with birdwatchers, joggers, walkers and families as it offers spectacular views of the natural tropical plants and variety of birds to spot.
Visitors to the area should also watch out for the Lovely Fairy Wren (Malurus amabills) which frequents the area. This special environment has been home for years to endangered plant called the Layered Tassel Fern (Huperzia phlegmariodes) which once thrived in this habitat. It is on the Queensland Government Endangered Species list and is becoming as rare as the ecosystem in which it lives. Yes, 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.
Whether your focus is on specific plants, wildlife in the area or, just want to tramp the comfortable pathways under the trees and breath in the fresh air, a visit to the Cairns Flecker Botanical Garden will probably do you a world of good.
Flecker Botanical Garden
Apart from the boardwalk and the wildlife and tropical plants, Cairns Botanical Gardens is just located metres away from the Centenary Lakes. The Botanical Gardens is also home to a number of exotic and rare tropical plants only found in this part of the world. It has a orchid and fern greenhouse as well as a range of endemic plants.It offers another unique attractions to the area and is a very popular spot for locals and visitors. I recommend to take moment to explore this area.
There is a cafe located right in the heart of the garden. As you enjoy your breakfast or lunch surrounded by lush tropical plants, gives you a taste of what it is like living in this tropical paradise.
There are other gardens and plant attractions to see in the area, including Fitzalan and Gondwana Heritage Garden. Click here for the PDF map
This garden named after Mr Eugene Fitzalan, the first caretake of the Botanic Gardens from 1886-1897 is a “must see” when visiting the area. The area comprises three separate gardens connected by paths and footbridges, and houses a small water lily pond, giant mature palms and trees.
Gondwana Heritage Garden
This garden located between Flecker Garden and the Visitor Centre is an Evolution Garden tracing the evolution of plants from the first photosynthetic bacteria to the modern flowering platns. Emphasis is placed on the Gondwana component of the plant kingdom and in particular the development of the distintive Australian Wet Tropics flora. This garden is certainly worth visiting and takes you back in time.
Centenary Lakes, with such beautiful setting all around with some cool walking tracks, seatings overlooking the lakes where many active ducks and birds around, great botanical garden and surrounded with lush tropical plants, makes it a peaceful walk through nature, a place for chill-out time and tranquility right in the city. This place is truly one of the most beautiful place to visit and every visitor to this beautiful city must go and see.
So if you ever in Cairns, visit the Centenary Lakes and Cairns Flecker Botanical Gardens. Entry to both places are free.
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