The Hinterlands of the Orara Valley is tranquil, beautiful and only a short drive from Coffs Harbour. The recent bushfires that have ravaged through the Orara Valley have destroyed and damaged properties, businesses have been disrupted and incomes reduced or lost. For...
My husband and I have been visiting the North Coast Regional Botanic Gardens since we discovered it when I was first pregnant. We then promptly visited with my daughter when she was just six weeks’ old. She stayed in the pram the whole time, while my hubby and I had a nice long walk. The paths are plenty wide enough for even the bulkiest prams.
The gardens soon became a great place to host our weekly Mothers’ Group. We’d all pull up at the very first grassy area near the café. We’d lay out our baby blankets, and the plates of food we’d brought to share, and take turns watching each other’s bubs while all the mums bought a coffee. Under the shade of the big trees, with plenty of space, you couldn’t find a more ideal spot for catching up with other mums and their tiny babies.
When my little one started walking on her own, the gardens once more provided the perfect play spot. There is a Sensory Garden where there are plenty of interesting plants to look at (and touch), different types of paths, colourful tiles, and a big grassy area. It’s fairly closed off too, so you can sit and watch your bub explore without having to run after him too much! When bubs are at the age of wanting to explore and run off all the time, the Sensory Garden is a great place to meet with friends and take a picnic blanket.
Now my little one is two years’ old, we spend a lot more time walking around the different paths, looking at plants, birds and whatever else takes her fancy. We always go to the Japanese Friendship Garden with the big bridge, where she can watch ducks and eels. We take a ball to throw and kick around on one of the big lawns. And we always look for the huge fish and lizards at the pond near the entrance while I wait for my takeaway coffees.
For older kids, there are lots of different exciting areas to discover, including the Mangrove Boardwalk, Rainforest area, the Sensory Garden, the Waterwise Garden and the Japanese Friendship Garden. Plus there are lots of signs with information about local plant and animal species, for the curious kids who love to learn.
The gardens also provide guided education tours for groups, including school kids, so if it’s an area where your kids would love to do a school excursion to – why not ask your local school about it? There is more information here.
It’s FREE entry, though they appreciate gold coin donations, which go towards the improvement of the gardens. They have toilets at the entrance to the park and right in the middle too (there is a change table only at the entrance toilets). The café has nice big, wide tables for older babies who want to stand up and walk on the chairs instead of sitting still in their high-chairs.
There are maps available which point out all the different areas of the gardens. And there is plenty of parking space available! It’s a great place to visit in hot weather because there are lots of big, shady trees, and the sunny grassy areas are perfect on the cooler days of the year, too. The only time we avoid the gardens is during wet weather, but if you’re happy to walk on the paths and stay off the wet lawns, it would still be fine after the rain. Oh, and if you have a keep-cup, bring that for your takeaway coffees, as the café is volunteer run and they sometimes run out of lids or cups.
Most of the areas are wheel-chair accessible, which means they are also great for prams. I found it easy to walk with another mum friend (and our two prams), and we avoided the smaller paths quite easily.
Coffs Harbour Botanic Gardens – Official Information
Address: North Coast Regional Botanic Gardens, on the corner of Hardacre and Coff Streets.
Hours: Gardens are open daily 9am – 5pm. The Garden Café is only open Tuesday-Friday from 10am-2pm. If you’re doing a Mothers’ Group catch up, make sure to do it during these times.
More information: The 20-hectare botanic gardens have both planted garden beds and undisturbed natural forest and mangroves. Five kilometres of well-made paths and boardwalks provide easy access to all garden sections, and there are directional signs, benches and picnic tables scattered throughout the garden.