The Friends of the Botanic Gardens Cairns was established in 1989 to :
Members are engaged in a range of activities to support the Gardens, renowned for having the best tropical plant exhibitions in Australia. This includes propagating plants for sale to the general public, organising events, maintaining a small library, raising funds for enhancements, conducting guided walks and bird walks on a weekly basis, organising guest speakers and meetings and volunteering in the Friends' House shop which provides information, advice, maps and souvenirs.
The Flecker Garden is a key botanic space in the Cairns Botanic Gardens precinct. It contains the Conservatory which was constructed with a large donation from the Friends.
Friends' members share their passion for the Flecker Garden by conducting free weekly tours, guiding visitors along paths and winding their way through leafy undergrowth. They highlight the broad range of plants, trees and palms, exquisite orchids, bromeliads and ferns . . . and the bizarre beauty of insect eating pitcher plants.
The Gardens are on Collins Ave, Edge Hill and can be accessed by public transport from the city (Sunbus) or by car (ample street parking available), by bicycle or on foot. Entry is free and the Gardens are open from 7.30am to 5.30pm every day of the year.
Friends' House - staffed by volunteers - is in the Flecker Garden and is open from Monday to Friday from 9.30am to 3.30pm, providing advice and information to visitors.
The nearby Visitor Centre is open from 8:30am to 4.00pm week days and 8:30am to 1:00pm weekends. It is closed from midday Christmas Eve, all day Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Year's Day, Good Friday, Easter Sunday and until midday Anzac Day.
The Friends operate from Friends' House, a heritage-listed building in the Flecker Garden, behind the cafe. Friends' members are rostered on from 9:30am to 3:30pm to provide advice and information to visitors. They also operate a small shop selling locally made souvenirs.
If Friends' House is closed, the Botanic Gardens Visitor Centre - the glass building located between the Flecker Garden and the Tanks Arts Centre - also provides information. It has a shop which carries an exclusive range of locally created pieces ranging from children's stories to glass frog jewellery, teas and soaps.
The Visitor Centre shop is open on weekdays from 8.30am until 4:00pm. and on weekends from 8:30 until 1:00pm.
Free walks: Friends volunteers conduct free guided walks, Monday to Friday, most weeks of the year. These walks commence at 10:00 am from Friends’ House, near the Gardens Café, and are designed to meet the needs of casual visitors to the Gardens.
The walks last for about 60 to 90 minutes and showcase a number of different areas of the Gardens including the Conservatory, the Aboriginal Plant Use section and any plants that are putting on a particularly good display at the time.
Paid walks: Friends also conduct private, specialised walks for larger groups - for example bus tours - who wish to have walks tailored to their own particular needs.
These walks are designed in consultation with the tour leaders in order to best meet the requirements of the group in question. Factors considered include the start time and desired time frame of the walk, plus any special needs or interests of group members. Sufficient guides are provided to maintain a ratio of one guide to six or seven visitors. A charge of $5 per head applies, with a minimum cost of $80.
I visited the gardens in December 2011, so i am a bit late reviewing the gardens but have been many times. The gardens then were recovering from cyclone damage but it was still a great place to visit. Being December you do need to have mosquito repellent with you but it is the tropics that's to be expected (i found the brand OFF works fine). The red and blue arrow walking tracks are great for exercising, but i found it very annoying that the people, whether it was locals or tourists were leaving their empty drink bottles behind, come on people, its not hard to remember to take them with you when you leave, really disappointing people can be so disrespectful of the environment we need to be protecting. I did find however that the café was a little over priced, no worse than mt cootha lookout in Brisbane. Gardens are kept well maintained and are a great asset to cairns, there for everyone to enjoy. Having a bus stop out the front is a bonus making it easy to visit the gardens, two thumbs up sun bus cairns. Will be back next year.