The Brisbane City Botanic Gardens, a historic and picturesque oasis situated at Gardens Point, have transformed from a farm for the Moreton Bay penal settlement in 1825 into a sprawling 20-hectare haven. With its diverse plant species, lush greenery, and breathtaking views of the Brisbane River, the gardens provide locals and visitors with a serene escape. Boasting amenities such as picnic areas, The Gardens Club café, and designated event spaces, the gardens offer a unique and enjoyable experience for all. Check it out here
Establishment and Early Years
The establishment and early years of the Brisbane City Botanic Gardens were marked by the planting of food crops by convicts in 1825 to feed the prison colony, followed by the selection of the site as a public garden by Charles Fraser, the NSW Colonial Botanist, in 1828. The Gardens were initially established as a farm for the Moreton Bay penal settlement, but Fraser recognized the potential for creating a public garden in this location. In 1855, a portion of several acres was declared a Botanic Reserve, and Walter Hill was appointed as the first curator. Hill played a significant role in the expansion and development of the Gardens, introducing various plant species and conducting experiments to determine their commercial viability. The establishment of the Brisbane City Botanic Gardens laid the foundation for its transformation into the oldest and most mature gardens in Brisbane, with a rich history of scientific and recreational use.
Planting and Experimentation
In the early years of the Brisbane City Botanic Gardens, under the curatorship of Walter Hill, various plant species were introduced and experiments were conducted to assess their commercial viability. Hill introduced mango, pawpaw, ginger, tamarind, mahogany, poinciana, and jacaranda trees to the Gardens. His experiments aimed to acclimatize plants and determine their potential for commercial use. The Gardens served as a testing ground for a wide range of plants, including tobacco, sugar, grape vines, wheat, tropical fruits, tea, coffee, spices, and textile plants. Hill’s work was supported by the Queensland Acclimatisation Society, which utilized the Gardens as a propagation and distribution point for imported plants. Notably, the first jacaranda tree in Australia was planted in the Botanic Gardens, leading to the widespread popularity of this species in Brisbane City.
Expansion and Development
Following the planting and experimentation phase led by Walter Hill, the Brisbane City Botanic Gardens experienced significant expansion and development. By 1866, Hill had enlarged the Gardens to approximately 27 acres, including a 10-acre strip along Alice Street known as Queens Park. Various building works were undertaken during this time, including the construction of a Superintendents cottage, a platform for a battery of cannon, a stone and iron fence around Queens Park, and a drinking fountain designed by Colonial Architect Charles Tiffin. Additionally, fig trees and avenues of Bunya pines and Cook pines were planted in the 1870s. In 1916, the Gardens, Queens Park, and part of the Domain were amalgamated, forming the extant City Botanic Gardens with a total area of around 20 hectares. Since then, the Gardens have primarily served as a recreational venue, undergoing redevelopment in the late 1980s to introduce new recreational structures and restore the former Queens Park fence.Click here for more interesting articles