Botanic gardens don’t often make it to the top of my list of things to do when I have limited time in a new place. Fortunately, we had a full week to enjoy the Bundaberg region, so we could easily visit Bundaberg Botanic Gardens. And I’m glad we did.

Bundaberg Botanic Gardens ended up being my favourite attraction in Bundaberg.

We headed there for breakfast as we were staying nearby, at Riverdale Caravan Park* (head to the end of the article if you’re interested in more information accommodations in Bundaberg). Our initial plan was to enjoy our morning coffees and juices at the Cafe 1928 at the entrance of the gardens and then do a short walk in the park. But we ended up spending more than two hours to complete the 830m loop!

A person on a boardwalk watching the birds on Wildlife Island in Bundaberg Botanic Gardens

What’s special about Bundaberg Botanic Gardens

The highlight of our visit to Bundaberg Botanic Gardens was the birdlife.

I read that the lakes around the Bundaberg Botanic Gardens attract 114 species of birds! We didn’t spot that many, but we were nonetheless impressed. Egrets, spoonbills and ibises were busy preparing their nests on Wildlife Island and the bird action was incredible.

We could safely watch them from the boardwalk without disturbing their important tasks but close enough to notice a few exciting details. A cattle egret would steal sticks from the ibis nest while they weren’t watching. Spoonbills couples were teaming up passing sticks from one to another.

Responsible travel tip: Do not feed the birds (or the turtles or other wildlife really). It can make them sick and/or they could become aggressive.

If you wish, you could easily spend half a day in Bundaberg Botanic Gardens. The park isn’t very big, but there are gardens and a few museums to visit (Hinkler Hall of Aviation, Fairymead House Sugar Museum and District Historical Museum).

Japanese Garden at Bundaberg Botanic Gardens
Japanese Garden at Bundaberg Botanic Gardens

When is the best time to visit Bundaberg Botanic Gardens?

Botanic gardens change with the seasons and usually offer different kinds of visitors and flowers; there’s never a bad time to visit them. I read on a sign that Wildlife Island in Bundaberg Botanic Garden was a nesting area between October and March. We were there in early December and loved the show.

The park opens at 5.30 am in Spring/Summer and 6.30 am in Autumn/Winter. In summer, birds are usually more active when it’s not too hot, but they were moving a lot even late in the morning when we visited. The cafe opens at 9 am.

Birdwatching: is the Bundaberg Botanic Garden better than Baldwin Swamp Environmental Park?

In one of the descriptions I read about the Baldwin Swamp Environmental Park, they pictured it as « Bundaberg’s own Kakadu », « home to many species of birdlife and wildlife ». It really caught my attention; I have wonderful memories from our trips to Kakadu National Park.

Unfortunately, we didn’t find Baldwin Swamp Environmental Park that special. We did see a few beautiful birds, including kingfishers, but it was not as exciting as all the nesting action at the Bundaberg Botanic Gardens. The swamp has an impressive bat colony, but we didn’t see that many water birds. Were we there at the wrong time?

Baldwin Swamp Environmental Park is a lot better than the word “swamp” suggests. But don’t expect a mini-Kakadu.

If you’re looking for a quiet place to walk or run, Baldwin Swamp Environmental Park can be a good option. The tracks are easy and we found a few shaded areas. It’s also a reputed spot for picnics.

A small bird sitting on a branch at Baldwin Swamp Environmental Park in Bundaberg
Bird watching at Baldwin Swamp Environmental Park

Where to stay in Bundaberg

We spent most of our time in the region near the coast, at Bargara. The choices of accommodations there is more aligned with what we usually like (nature-focus). If you’re looking for accommodation near the coast, you may be interested in Kellys Beach Resort* if you’re after a connexion with nature (that’s where we stayed) or Manta Bargara* for a comfortable stay with a spa and a balcony with sea views, for example. You’ll be very close to Mon Repos where you can see turtles in the wild. Underwater adventurers may be interested in staying in Coral Cove as there’s a great shore dive there (also good for snorkelling), Barolin Rocks.

For our last night in Bundaberg, choices were limited and we opted for a unit in a caravan park, at Riverdale Caravan Park*. We liked the idea of being next to the river rather than in a motel in town close to a busy road. We had a good night there, but only because we were very lucky with our neighbours. The noise isolation is terrible so I wouldn’t risk it next time we’re in Bundaberg.

Where is Bundaberg?

It takes 4.5 hrs to drive from Brisbane to Bundaberg. If you’re a bird lover, you may want to break the drive by stopping at Urangan Pier in Hervey Bay.

Bundaberg Botanic Gardens are located in the north of Bundaberg, a short drive after crossing the Tallon Bridge over the Burnett River.

Have you been to Bundaberg Botanic Gardens? Share your experience in the comments below!

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