Garden Road Trip: Tropical North
Welcome to the tropical north.
Head to Cairns and the Daintree rainforest to enjoy the lush verdancy of the tropics and find gardens filled with brilliant bold flowers and delicious new fruit flavours.
Flecker Botanic Gardens
Established in 1886 in the middle of Cairns, Flecker is Australia’s only wet tropics botanical garden and it features spectacular plants from all over the tropical world. Southern gardeners swoon over the brilliant gingers and heliconias and the luminous blue-green blooms of the jade vine.
Jade vine. Photo - Robin Powell
In 1929, Spanish migrant and former cane-cutter Jose Paranella started building his dream castle. The castle and its wonderful gardens, carved out of the rainforest and complete with 7000 newly planted trees and a hydro-electric plant opened to the public in 1935. By 2009 it was a wreck, but has been restored by Mark and Judy Evans with an eye for the romance of overgrown foliage and mossy stone. 120 km from Cairns.
Begun as a subsistence farm of tropical food plants, Botanical Ark is now Alan and Susie Carle’s ethnobotanical garden of more than 3000 species of tropical fruits, spices, nuts and other useful plants. Book a couple of nights in the Botanical Ark Retreat to enjoy the flowers, the unusual and delicious tropical delights in the fruit bowl, and the private beach and swimming hole. Botanical Ark is a 90-minute drive from Cairns.
Head to the Daintree for unique tropical tastes and memorable meals:
Daintree Ice Cream Company
Homemade ice cream flavoured with seasonal tropical fruits grown in the orchard makes a perfect pitstop.
Silky Oaks Treehouse Restaurant
Dine in the rainforest canopy with views of the Daintree rainforest and Mossman River. A stay in this luxury eco lodge is a real treat.
Julaymba Restaurant and gallery
Locally sourced tropical ingredients and native foods feature on the menu here, served alongside a rainforest-fringed lagoon. Accommodation available.