Initiated in 1870, Queens Gardens is the oldest Botanic Garden in Townsville and is heritage listed. Now covering 4 hectares, reduced from an original 40Ha, it is considered a fine example of a tropical colonial garden of that era. Originally established as a trial acclimatisation garden for European settlement, in which potential food and economic plants were trialled during the era of colonisation.
Today the gardens are a lush green oasis set against the dramatic pink granite cliffs of Castle Hill, and offer a quiet cool retreat from the nearby city centre. The emphasis of the current plant collection is on colonial ornamental plants with colourful, attractive flowers, foliage or fruit.
Townsville residents use its luxuriant gardens for leisure and recreation, while the City Council and community groups utilise its green splendour to stage a variety of special events.
Botanic collections have been developed in three separate gardens which together form Townsville Botanic Gardens. In addition to Queens Gardens are Anderson Gardens in Mundingburra and the Palmetum in Annandale.
Townsville, North Queensland. Located in the suburb of North Ward on the corner of Gregory and Paxton Street, 1.2 km north of the city centre. Entrance is off Paxton Street, Gregory Street and Kennedy Lane. Car parking is available on roadside boundaries.
Map of Queens Gardens
Queens Gardens covers four hectares and occupies a gently sloping, almost square site at the base of Castle Hill. The natural soils are derived from granodiorite, the predominant rock of Castle Hill. The Gardens are divided somewhat formally into quadrants with a central fountain.
Areas of special interest include the Rainforest, Isabella Phillips Rose Garden, the Herb Society's garden, the Frangipani collection, the Perennial Display beds and the Palm Lawn.
The plant collection in Queens Gardens features many interesting and unusual species. Emphasis has been placed on colonial ornamental plants with either colourful, attractive foliage or flowers. Many magnificent trees grace the gardens, several of which are original plantings dating back to 1870. An interesting collection of palms are planted in the Palm Lawn; several interesting and unusual species are exhibited.
The history of Queens Gardens is almost as interesting as the magnificent collection of unique and unusual plant specimens which grow there today. Some of the hoop pines and a milky pine planted at that time are still growing today and may be the oldest cultivated specimens in Australia.
The Botanical Gardens Reserve, of which Queens Gardens is but a portion, was proclaimed on the 14th June 1870. By the end of the nineteenth century, a network of botanical gardens had been established across the Commonwealth in response to European enthusiasm for botany as a science with educational, economic and ornamental functions.
More than 40 hectares of land was set aside by the Council of the day for the purpose of a Botanic Garden in Townsville. As a result of the exorcising of land due to the proximity to the city centre, Queens Gardens now covers only 4 hectares.
The gardens' formative years were difficult but gradually planting and landscaping improved and by 1894 the gardens were involved in propagation, experimentation and exchange, thereby contributing to the network of botanical gardens throughout the Commonwealth.
Some of the earliest recorded exotic fruit plantings included an acre of grape vines, along with cocoa (1896), coffee (1889), breadfruit (1899) and mangoes. Likewise, timber species planted included mahogany (1887), hoop pine (1892) and red cedar (1892).
Initially the gardens focussed on botanical function, however the late nineteenth century saw the introduction of the popular Paradise style, which gave the gardens a pleasure ground image.
During World War II the gardens became a military base for approximately 100 000 American soldiers.
In 1959, the Council employed Landscape Architect Alan Wilson, to redesign the Gardens. Mr Wilson's layout largely remains today but with greatly enhanced plant collections and improved facilities.
Queens Gardens proximity to the city centre, shady setting and Victorian charm entices many visitors to enjoy the gardens for leisure and recreation.
Queens Gardens c1890
Queens Gardens c.1895
Queens Gardens c.1916
This compact representation of a tropical rainforest features a spreading canopy of Rain Tree (Albizia saman), Banyan Fig (Ficus benghalensis) and Milky Pine (Alstonia scholaris) along the Gregory Street boundary. A meandering path network immerses the visitor through lush underplantings of palms, aroids, heliconias, cycads and bromeliads.
The majority of palm species requiring an open aspect can be found in the Palm Lawn. From soaring Livistona and Washingtonia species to brilliantly coloured Bismarckia and Latania, the collection is also host to several rare and exotic specimens. A Travellers Palm and the Panama Hat Plant are also planted in the lawn.
Rose and Herb Gardens
The Isabella Phillips Rose Garden contains prolific floribunda roses, a historic fountain and ornamental terracotta urns. It is a popular area for weddings and ceremonies. The Herb Garden is predominantly maintained by the Herb Society of Townsville where they have established an excellent representation of herbs that grow well in our prevailing climate.
The gardens contain some fine, mature examples of noble tropical trees that help create a cool, shady environment in many locations, whilst providing structure and grandeur. Some of the most notable specimens are the White Fig (Ficus virens var. virens), Common Mango (Mangifera indica), Moreton Bay Ash (Corymbia tesselaris), Milky Pine (Alstonia scholaris) and the Rain Tree (Albizia saman) at Kennedy Lane Entrance.
A tropical mix of palms, cycads, bromeliads, succulents and herbaceous perennials provide stunning colour and symmetry all year along the primary axis. Flanked by rows of Golden Cane Palms (Dypsis lutescens) and punctuated by stately Silver Date Palms (Phoenix sylvestris) the borders provide a grand introduction to the gardens.
The floral emblem of Queens Gardens is represented by a collection of Frangipani (Plumeria) species that occur naturally in the wild, along with a selection of the most magnificent cultivars and rarities. Perfect for the dry tropical climate of Townsville, Frangipani’s exude the colonial heritage and ambience of this garden.
Plants of interest – please refer to map
||Central Australian Fan Palm|
||Ficus virens var. virens
||Silver Date Palm|
||Golden Cane Palm|
||Canary Island Date Palm|
||Moreton Bay Ash|
||Red Silk Cotton Tree|
||Queensland Kauri Pine|
Visitor facilities include public conveniences and picnic tables. A small aviary houses a collection of parrots, lorikeets and peacocks.