Keen to visit the Blue Mountains Botanic Garden Mount Tomah, but don’t think you have enough time to do it justice? Think again – from half-hour snippets, to full-day excursions, the Garden is perfect, any time.
Whether you’re having an extended Blue Mountains getaway, or enjoying a day trip from Sydney on the ‘alternative route’ of Bells Line of Road to the apple-growing region of Bilpin and Mount Tomah, the Garden is an unmissable destination for visitors to the region.
Located within the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area, Australia’s highest botanic garden features many rare species, vibrant seasonal colour and secluded rainforest trails where you can immerse yourself in nature. While it’s easy to spend a full day exploring the 28 hectares of curated gardens and surrounding wilderness tracts, interspersed with a leisurely picnic under a shady tree on manicured lawns, you can still appreciate the beauty and artistry of its four distinct precincts if you are short on time.
And of course, with the ever-changing cycle of the seasons, repeat visits are certainly the best way to appreciate the Garden’s many moods and colour palettes, with every stroll along its pathways revealing something new.
Here are some suggestions on how to make the most of your visit to the Blue Mountains Botanic Garden Mount Tomah, whatever your time commitment.
If you have 30 minutes
For an overview of the Garden, and to soak up incredible views across the World Heritage wilderness as far as the Lower Hunter, head into the Visitor Centre and make your way to the Viewing Deck. From here, you can appreciate the iconic spiral design of the centrepiece Rock Garden, interlaced with water-features and a tumbling waterfall.
Then, take the ramp down the natural, boulder-strewn hillside to admire the Rock Garden’s incredible collection of proteas, waratahs and grevilleas, pausing to watch colourful honeyeaters flit around one of the collection’s most impressive showstoppers – the turquoise-flowered South American puya, at their stunning best in November. Take a rest on a bench at The Beach, before wandering back up the hill via the Residence Garden, a riot of seasonal colour with ethereal cherry blossoms in Spring, and a blazing canopy of maples during Autumn.
A visit to the terraces of the Formal Garden, with its ornamental floral displays inspired by the great gardens of Europe, will give you a final pop of colour as a memorable takeaway.
If you have an hour
Wander along the Gondwana Walk to spy Wollemi Pines in their first cultivated setting, with the Garden the first place these rare and ancient trees were successfully propagated outside of their secret wilderness home. This cool and shady trail is literally a journey through time, past lush rainforest plants that trace their origins to an era when dinosaurs roamed the planet.
For more fascinating facts about plants and the intrepid explorers who first brought them into our backyards, take the Plant Explorer Walk which winds along a shady pathway lined with camellias, magnolias, rhododendron as well as herbaceous perennials including the striking Giant Himalayan Lily (Cardiocrinum giganteum) or the delicate Chinese Meadow Rue (Thalictrum delavayi).
A more recent history can be relived in the beautiful Brunet Meadow, which honours the original owners of the property, the flower-farming Brunet family. The Brunets were responsible for many of the most mature plantings in the Gardens, including soaring oak and chestnut trees that tower above one of the Gardens’ most Instagrammable feature – the Daffodil Meadow, which, from mid-August, becomes a sea of gold as thousands of bulbs emerge from the lawn.
If you have three hours
A half-day visit to Blue Mountains Botanic Garden Mount Tomah is enough to take in the full curated garden, strolling along its paths and through each of the four distinct precincts at your leisure, with a picnic lunch a fitting finale. There are plenty of sunny lawns or shady nooks to lay down your picnic blanket; or take advantage of the barbecue facilities and picnic tables in the BBQ Shelter on the southern edge of the Brunet Garden.
There are also several guided tours available which give an overview of the Gardens, led by volunteer guides with a consuming passion for plants and the rich history of the property. Private 1.5 hour walking tours designed for individuals or groups of up to 12 people can be booked at the Visitor Centre; or join a Public Walking Tour held every Sunday at 11.30am (available for a $5 donation).
You can also encourage your children to make the most of their visit by taking a self-guided Treasure Quest tour, with kits (purchased from the Visitor Centre for $7,50, available from Winter) leading them on a voyage of discovery along the garden trails. For other specialty tours or events, visit the What’s On page.
If you have a full day
If you have the luxury of time, a full day spent at the Garden is as rewarding as it is relaxing: not only will you leave with a deeper appreciation and understanding of the beauty and complexity of nature and the history of horticulture, but you’ll also possibly be inspired to create a botanic masterpiece in your own backyard.
To truly immerse yourself in the wilderness environment, coincide your visit with one of our regular Nature Therapy Walks, where you can learn about the Japanese healing practice known as shinrin-yoku, or forest bathing. This guided experience will lead you on a sensory exploration of the Lady (Nancy) Fairfax Walk, connecting with the health-giving benefits of nature as you slow down, breathe and commune with the forest.
Enjoy the thrill of discovery that only a relaxed schedule allows: find a sunny bench in a secluded grove; explore the silence of the forest floor, scattered with fascinating fungi as the canopy above explodes into colour during Autumn; or take a close-up investigation of the carnivorous plants of the Bog Garden.
With time, you’ll also become more aware of the incredible wildlife that calls this magical place home – colourful birds, from tiny Superb Fairy Wrens to majestic Black Cockatoos; lizards lazing on warm stone walls; and the buzz of bees doing their part in pollination.
This is your opportunity to unwind, open your senses, and gain a deeper appreciation of why the Blue Mountains Botanic Garden Mount Tomah holds such a special place within the surrounding UNESCO World Heritage Area. To plan your visit, visit bluemountainsbotanicgarden.com.au