Mount Annan Botanic Garden
Lake Sedgwick is a fabulous picnic spot at the Australian Botanic Gardens
The Australian Botanic Garden (often referred to as Mount Annan Botanical Gardens) is a super, super impressive botanic garden. Aptly named, the garden is an ode to the beauty of the Australian landscape, fauna and flora. At the garden you’ll find stunning Australian plants, amazing vistas, rolling hills, lakes, a playground, scenic drives and fabulous picnic spots.
At 416 hectares the garden is massive! I think the easiest way to tackle it is to come in a car (if you can) and to break it into six main activities:
- Floral Displays
- Visitors Centre and surrounds
- Caley Drive Loop
- Cunningham Drive Bushland Loop
If you haven’t been to the garden before then a good way to structure your day would be to firstly head to the Visitors Centre and Connections Garden, drive the Caley Drive Loop, drive the Cunningham Drive bush loop, then either go for a walk or have a picnic.
1. Floral displays at the Australian Botanic Garden
The Paper Daisies start flowering in September each year
One of the main reasons visitors come to the Australian Botanic Garden is to see the flower displays that occur throughout the garden at various times of the year.
If you have never been to the botanical gardens at Mount Annan then early Spring is a perfect time to go. The wattle is absolutely magic at this time of year. In the Wattle Garden you will see amazing displays of wattles in full bloom. And you’ll also be able to see different types of wattle – many of which you may not have seen before.
And you’ll also be able to see the very start of the blooming of the mass plantings of Paper Daisies. The special thing about this is that Paper Daisies are native to Western Australia and are not seen in the wild in Sydney. There is even a dedicated selfie spot where you can take a photo that looks like you are in an amazing Paper Daisy field!
The blooming of the Paper Daisies varies each year (depending on the weather). If you head there anytime from early to late September this year you are sure to see some!
The photos below were taken in late August 2019. As the flowers mature the netting will be removed.
Spring is a great time to visit to see the Paper Daisies and the Wattle
2. Visitors Centre, Playground and Connections Garden
The Visitors Centre is the best place to start your day. Here you can grab a garden map, ask the pleasant staff any questions, have a browse at the gift store and nursery and prepare for the day ahead!
You can also book a Garden Drive Tour ($14.00 per adult, $5.00 per child over 7) or a Free Walking Tour. The Free Walking Tour takes place on the 1st and 3rd Friday of the month at 1.00pm. Garden Drive Tours are subject to demand so check in with the staff if a tour is running.
After perusing the Visitors Centre (and trying to resist buying too many gifts), head straight out the door and into the Connections Garden.
The paved walkways make the Connections Garden accessible to everyone
The Connections Garden is right in front of the Visitors Centre and it is jaw dropping. I just loved wandering through here discovering the pond and waterfall, Jurassic Garden and seeing the astounding displays of beautiful flowering plants.
It is here that you will find the biggest concentration of Paper Daisies and the perfect selfie spot!
Plus there are also super cute giant flower covered bee sculptures all around.
The area has a great paved walkway so is a good spot for little legs and also wheelchairs and prams.
The Connections Garden is easy to navigate and very beautiful
The nature based playground is fully fenced
The Playground is situated right near the Visitors Centre, if you head to your right you will find it. It is a great, nature based playground and is fully enclosed.
Kids will love the equipment which includes a flying fox, climbing frames, sand pits, slides, walls and swings.
Conveniently the cafe is located right next door so you can grab a coffee while the kids have a play.
Melaleuca House Cafe
Enjoy a coffee in the outdoor seating area at Melaleuca House
Also just near the Visitors Centre is the Melaleuca House Cafe. It has a really lovely outdoor eating area which is a great sun catcher and is surrounded by beautiful flowering plants.
The cafe serves up breakfast, burgers, pastas, salads, sandwiches and coffees.
The cafe is a great alternative to a picnic if you prefer not to pack your own food.
2. Caley Drive 5km Loop
The blue tree reminds us how important dead trees are for birds and wildlife
After wandering the Visitors Centre, jump back in the car and head on for a drive around the gardens. Being so big, driving the gardens is the best option (or taking a tour).
The Caley Drive Loop is an Australian Botanic Garden must-do. The key thing to know with this drive is that once you enter it, you cannot turn back! The drive can take as long or as short as you wish – I would suggest at least an hour if you stop and explore most of the key sites.
To find the loop you will need to exit the Visitors Centre, circle around to cross the bridge over Lake Sedgwick then turn to your right. Make sure you have a map from the Visitors Centre; it is very useful to help you know the key points to stop and take a wander.
The key spots to look out for are Lake Sedgwick and Lake Fitzpatrick, Big Idea Garden, Wattle Garden (and Wattle Island), Banksia Garden (noting that the best time to visit this garden is in October when the flowers are in full bloom) and the Dead Tree.
There are some great picnic spots on the loop if you want to enjoy a snack or lunch as you make your way around.
A Mountain Bike Trail is also accessed via the Caley Drive Loop, but as at September 2019 it was closed for repair. Check the website to see if the track is open.
The Banksia Garden, Big Garden and Wattle Garden, remind us of the beauty of the Australian bushland
3. Cunningham Drive Loop
Head along Cunningham Drive for beautiful views of the garden
The main reason to take the Cunningham Drive Loop is to experience the amazing vistas the garden has to offer. The loop will take you up into the hills of the garden and offers amazing views of the garden and surrounds.
Along the loop you can also stop in at the Lake Nadungamba Bird Hide (remembering that birds are most active in the morning).
The Australian PlantBank is worth a visit if you are interested in the science behind plants. You can enter the Visitors section of the PlantBank where you will see the plant labs, plant specimens and some interesting displays.
And the Stolen Memorial Walkway, just across from the Australian PlantBank is a lovely walk for families and remembers The Stolen Generation.
Don’t miss the PlantBank for some interesting info on how seeds are stored
Paved pathways make it easy to get around a lot of the main area of the garden
The garden is absolutely jam packed with walks.
There are lots of other tracks and walks throughout the garden and the best way to find these is to refer to the garden map.
The pavilions are all very well maintained and great for picnics
There are excellent picnic spots right throughout the garden.
One of the main picnic areas is around Lake Sedgwick and Lake Fitzpatrick. Here you will find terrific grassy areas, some picnic tables and also a great pavilion.
You will also find picnic spots at The Big Garden, Wattle Garden, Banksia Garden and Woodland Picnic Area.
- Grab a map when you arrive (from the Visitors Centre)
- Check in at the Visitors Centre to find out about the Free Walking Tour and the Garden Drive Tour
- There are water filling stations all through the park so bring a refillable bottle
- Bring binoculars if you are keen to do some bird watching
- Entry: Free
- Toilets: Yes
- Wheelchair friendly: Yes (in parts)
- Free carparking: Yes
- Free BBQ facilities: Yes
- Time to spend here: 1 hour to all day
- Food available: Yes
- Address: 362 Narellan Rd, Mount Annan NSW 2567
- Further details: www.australianbotanicgarden.com.au/
More free things to do
- Visit the Blue Mountains Botanic Garden to see the Daffodil Displays
- Discover Sydney’s other Botanic Gardens
- Explore the best of Sydney’s free gardens
- Enjoy the best Sydney Free Events this weekend