Hiking in Brisbane: Up, up, up to Mount Coot-tha

Australia (184)

An open view of Brisbane atop of Mount Coot-tha’s lookout.

A trip to any city almost demands a visit to the highest point to see a birds-eye panorama of the city. Brisbane is no different.

Difficulty: Medium
Time: 1 to 2 hours
Distance: 4 kilometres, return
Conditions: Some shade

A visit to Brisbane’s Mount Coot-tha Lookout offers a view of the city’s sprawling downtown core, greenery and winding rivers. On a clear day, you can see Moreton Bay and Stradbroke Islands from the lookout.

I always find it interesting to see how a city develops and expands outwards, from the pocketed areas of parks and protected natural woodlands, to the suburban development as families continue to grow. It’s a reminder of how small you actually are in the grand scheme of life and in the world.

To reach the Mount Coot-tha Lookout, visitors can either drive, bus, bike or hike up to the top.

For hikers, the trail begins at the J.C. Slaughter Falls car park and picnic area which connects to the Summit Track. The track itself is moderately graded and suitable for many levels of fitness. It takes around an hour and a half going up, and 30 minutes back down again, making it roughly 4 km there and back. What makes the hike difficult is usually the blazing sun during the summer season.

Though dogs are allowed on the track, they must be on a leash. Horses and bikes are also permitted on designated tracks that are clearly labelled. Toilets can be found near the picnic area and at the top of the lookout, and there are water fountains interspersed along the tracks.

Lookout aside, you have the option to make it a day trip by swinging by the Brisbane Botanical Garden and adjacent Sir Thomas Brisbane Planetarium located near by.

The Brisbane Botanical Garden, not to be mistaken for the city’s downtown garden, is a host to many subtropical flora found in Australia. Separated into different areas, from the fossil and primitive plants to exotic rainforest, the pathways connect each section across 52 hectares. Other areas include the bamboo walk, open eucalypt forest and bunya forest.

There are optional free mini guided and bus tours, gardening workshops, children’s story time, and more.

Australia (101)

Urgh, spiders. One of nature’s beautiful yet creepy creatures.

Be warned, for all the lovely plants and flowers that can be found at the botanical garden, there are as many (not-so-)lovely spiders weaving their webs across paths. It’s not surprisingly to walk through a few webs, especially in the early morning after a night of furious activity. As someone who is cautious of spiders (due to multiple run-ins and close calls with venomous spiders in the last few years – brown recluses, black widows, and white-tailed spiders to name a few – urgh), the size some of the spiders can become is quite alarming. I admit even dandy long-legs, though harmless, unnerve me now.

That said, the botanical gardens is a beautiful area to relax, have lunch or even take a nap on its many sprawling lawns. Wear comfortable shoes because even though it is a garden, there is quite a fair distance to cover.

Connected to the Brisbane Botanical Gardens is the planetarium. Though small, it offers educational panels, models and informative programs for children and adults. The planetarium winds in a circle with smaller rooms leading to other sections, including the Cosmic Skydome, Display Zone, Mini Theatre, Observatory, and the Galaxy Gift shop (with fun toys!).

There are many presentations hosted throughout the week, some free and some at a cost. There are also package deals if you plan on having a longer visit and want to view more than one presentation. Some regular shows are: Cosmic Collisions, Dynamic Earth, the Secret of the Cardboard Rocket (for children) and Tycho to the Moon (another children’s show). Depending on the time of year and what’s happening in the galaxy, shows can be changed or added.


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