centenary lakes, Cairns

Take a great self-guided walk in our amazing backyard and you don’t have to travel far out of Cairns city to see the lush tropical plants in far north Queensland

Centenary Lakes - Freshwater in Brief

Located within ten minutes of drive from the heart of Cairns city centre is the Cairns Centenary Lakes and Flecker Botanical Gardens. This lake was created in 1975 in a 3-hectare freshwater swamp already existed on the site. This Freshwater Lake is an ideal place for families and a great picnic location with sheltered picnic sites, free BBQs, an outdoor nature-park playground for children and public toilets. Without a doubt, this lake is a great place to get close to nature and you will get to see the lush tropical rainforest plants. Yes, you don’t have to travel out of the city to experience this tropical rainforest paradise that is just within minutes from Cairns CBD centre.. 

Why Go?

This lake decorated by a patchwork of colourful water-lilies that provides shelter for several species of frogs, fish and turtles is an area where you have spectacular time to explore our beautiful city backyard and enjoy nature. Here you come to discover unique wildlife in this swampy area and also a safe haven for many bird species, depending on the season. This lake can be filled with abundance of birdlife and other species of birds that migrate to this location each year, while other wildlife makes it their permanent home. Any visitors making their way to this location can expect to see magpie geese, black ducks, black-necked storks, white Egrets, darter and cormorants.

Rainforest Boardwalk

One of the best highlight which I enjoy at this Freshwater Lakes is taking a walk-on-foot along the Rainforest Boardwalk that links to the Flecker Botanical Gardens and around the lake. I was totally amazed by the incredible birdlife and the lush and exotic tropical plants. It was once an unfriendly boardwalk with very narrow wooden path is now a friendly boardwalk that is widen and accessible for prams, wheelchairs and anyone that stroll along without been rushed. This walk will give you the taste of what it is like to be going on an adventure to experiencing lush thick tropical rainforest, further north of Cairns to Daintree-Cape Tribulation area. The rainforest boardwalk connecting Centenary Lakes to the Botanical Gardens in Cairns, far north Queensland allows the visitors to imagine what the coastal areas of Cairns once looked like before settlement. The western end of the boardwalk is located across Collins Avenue from the Main Gate and the eastern end is adjacent to the Saltwater Creek footbridge that accesses the Saltwater Lake. 

If you want peace, beauty, tranquility and a bit of light adventure, this boardwalk is the ideal place. As you go along the boardwalk, you will get to see the amazing tropical plant life existing along the walk and the birdlife is in its abundance. This area is very popular with birdwatchers, joggers, walkers and families as it offers spectacular views of the natural tropical plants and variety of birds to spot. Visitors to the area should also watch out for the Lovely Fairy Wren (Malurus amabills) which frequents the area. This special environment has been home for years to endangered plant called the Layered Tassel Fern (Huperzia phlegmariodes) which once thrived in this habitat. It is on the Queensland Government Endangered Species list and is becoming as rare as the ecosystem in which it lives. Yes, sadly, this shrinking ecosystem that once dominated the region has all but disappeared, apart from the small patch around the boardwalk and a few other locations.

This boardwalk not only set its site on enjoying the lush tropical natural plants and the rainforest experience but gives you an in depth information on the flora and fauna along the way and what you might expect to see. It is quite educational to take a time to read what is in the area and expect to see. 

Getting there?

This Freshwater Lake and Botanical Gardens is accessible by road from Greenslopes Street or Collins Avenue along Whitfield area. It is also easily accessible by foot from the Cairns CBD centre with approximate distance of 3-5 kilometres.

Popular Attractions

Flecker Botanical Garden

Apart from the boardwalk and the wildlife and tropical plants, Cairns Botanical Gardens is just metres away from the area. It is a very popular spot for locals and visitors. I recommend to take moment to explore this area and there is a cafe located right in the heart of the garden. As you enjoy your breakfast or lunch surrounded by lush tropical plants, gives you a taste of what it is like living in this tropical paradise.

Plants at Botanical Garden

Fitzalan Garden

This garden named after Mr Eugene Fitzalan, the first caretake of the Botanic Gardens from 1886-1897 is a “must see” when visiting the area. The area comprises three separate gardens connected by paths and footbridges, and houses a small water lily pond, giant mature palms and trees.

Access to this area is across the road from either the main entrance of the Flecker Garden or the Visitor Centre

Gondwana Heritage Garden

This garden located between Flecker Garden and the Visitor Centre is an Evolution Garden tracing the evolution of plants from the first photosynthetic bacteria to the modern flowering platns. Emphasis is placed on the Gondwana component of the plant kingdom and in particular the development of the distintive Australian Wet Tropics flora. This garden is certainly worth visiting and takes you back in time. 

Click here for the PDF map

Library and Friends’ House

Located within Flecker Garden, this library house is little known by locals and visitors. This library houses botanical and horticultural books and other publications relevant to tropical gardening. 

The library is open to the public. For further information, you can email: fobcairns@bigpond.com or can be contacted on (07) 4032 3900

Exploring the area

It is entirely possible to get around and visit this area with the help of public transport. However, my recommendation would be to hire a car and explore the area on your own time. Driving in this area is straightforward. When visiting new areas, be aware of no-drive zones and one-way streets. 


2 thoughts on “Lush tropical rainforest in the heart of Cairns city”

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.



Papua New Guinean living in Cairns, Australia. Weekend getaway adventurer and Free-Independent-Traveller (FIT). Lover of unique and exotic travel experiences with a touch of luxury. Follow me to my travel world, brining you closer to your destination.

Stay in Touch

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join other akamau followers for Free

I would love, if you share it

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on google
Share on pinterest
Share on tumblr
Join other akamau Followers

Enter your email below and receive new post notification via your email

Share this:

Like this:

Like Loading...

Facebook Comments

%d bloggers like this: