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Queensland is one of the world's centres of plant diversity, with over 8500 species of higher plants (40% of the Australian total). Two particularly rich areas are pre-eminent, each with many endemic (unique) species.The richest is the remnant north-east Queensland rainforest areas such as parts of the Atherton Tableland and the Daintree, especially the high peaks such as Mts.Lewis, Bellenden Ker and Spurgeon.
The second most diverse area is the "Scenic Rim" of south-east Queensland, comprising the Border Ranges along the New South Wales - Queensland border from Springbrook to Cunningham's Gap, and adjacent isolated peaks south and west of Boonah, such as Mts. Barney, French, Ernest, Greville and Cordeaux. The Lamington and Springbrook Plateaus, easily accessible by car, contain many rainforest areas, while the isolated peaks are rich in dry rainforest, dry vine scrubs and areas of montane heath. Much of the geology is of volcanic origin, with basalt, rhyolites and many other rock types.
These gardens are an outreach of the Brisbane Botanic Gardens and specialise in native plants of arid and semi-arid areas of Queensland, particularly the brigalow belt.
The gardens are located in the grounds of the Fairhill native plant nursery, Fairhill Road, Yandina. Featured are areas of Rainforest and Wallem plants as well as water gardens and numerous wildflower displays. There is a well stocked bookshop and food is available on site at the restaurant.
The Kershaw Botanic Gardens were opened to the public in 1988. They are located on the banks of Moores Creek in North Rockhampton and consist of 32 hectares of mainly local flora. The gardens include a number of specialised sections including Rainforest, Wetlands, Rapids and Useful Plants.
The Gardens are located off the Bruce Highway, 2km north of Rockhampton railway station. They are open every day and admission is free. Refreshments are available.
The Myall Park Botanic Garden covers 132 hectares and is located 6km north of Glenmorgan (400km and about 5 hours drive west of Brisbane) via Riverglen and Myall Park Roads. The Garden features a range of native plants from all parts of Australia and is the home of the famous Grevilleas "Robyn Gordon", "Sandra Gordon" and "Merinda Gordon". There are also extensive areas of natural bushland plus a mile-long lake full of waterlilies. A herbarium houses over 7000 specimens. Some 10000 plants of over 2000 species are present and the oldest plantings go back to 1941. There is also an art gallery which features special exhibitions as well as botanical paintings by Dorothy Gordon - on display all year round.
Open days are held each weekend during August and September when the flowering is at its peak - the wattles start the display and these are followed by the hakeas, grevilleas, eucalypts and eremophilas.
A new arrangement of visitor roads, carparks and interpretive signs is being installed. This will make a visit to the gardens self guiding. There is a small charge of $3 per person managed through an honour system. Picnic areas and tables are available as well as toilet facilities.
Accommodation is available in the grounds of the garden in two cottages equipped with hot water, fridges, appliances, basic furnishings, open fireplaces, bathrooms and toilets. BYO sleeping bags and food. Further information from Elaine Lyons (07 4665 6734), or Betty Salter (07 4669 5298).
Enquiries about the gardens and activities can be obtained from the Myall Park Web site
Several Queensland provincial cities have botanical gardens with large native plant collections. Townsville's Palmetum has one of the world's best collections of palms and pandans, both native and exotic, and also has interesting collections of native gingers and aroids. Gladstone's Tandoon Botanic Garden and Cairns' Flecker Botanic Garden have good general collections. On a smaller scale, several inland towns, such as Longreach and Barcaldine, have very new botanic gardens specialising in local semi-arid zone plants.
Large sandstone-dominated inland National Park areas of great scenic and botanical interest, but few amenities, include Carnarvon Gorge N.P. and its associated areas of Mt. Moffat, Ka Ka Mundi and Salvator Rosa. Carnarvon Gorge proper does have camping and motel facilities, and there are wet fern habitats despite it being 400 km inland.
The Blackdown Tableland west of Rockhampton contains both wet and dry areas as well as ferny areas and also heathland, although open eucalypt woodland predominates.
Eungella N.P. near Mackay is an interesting rainforest area, where many species have their northern or southern limits of distribution.
Grevilleas are a feature of the Burra Range area, west of Charters Towers. Sandstone ridges are home to G.decora, G.glauca, G.sessilis, G.pteridifolia, and the natural hybrid between the last two (the equivalent of the cultivar G."Sandra Gordon").
Several inland areas of open sandy woodlands could be listed which show vivid wildflower displays after reasonable rainfall. One is Barakula, the largest State Forest in Queensland, located to the north of Chinchilla and Miles. Others include nearby Gurrulmundi, areas near the town of Milmerran and around Jericho in central-western Queensland.
The world's largest sand island, Fraser Island, has lush rainforests growing on sand and interesting "perched" lakes. Access is by ferry. You need a 4 wheel drive vehicle (easily hired locally).
Lawn Hill N.P. in far north-western Queensland, about 400 km from Cloncurry by road, has a spectacular gorge cut through red sandstone and much of the vegetation is akin to that of the central part of the Northern Territory. It includes a forest of Livistona rigida palms and several of the spectacular tropical Grevillea species (eg, G.dryandri, G.wickhamii, G.refracta and G.heliosperma).
Easily accessible larger National Parks include numerous rainforest areas in the 28500 ha Brisbane Forest Park (on the northern outskirts of Brisbane), and the granite-rock areas of Girraween N.P. (just east of the New England Highway, near Stanthorpe), famed for its wildflowers. Also the wallum areas of the Sunshine Coast are rich in heathland wildflowers, as at Mt. Coolum N.P. The Sunshine Coast hinterland contains many interesting areas of rainforest and eucalypt woodland, some being National Park and some State Forest (eg, Mts. Mee and Mapleton).
The Sundown N.P. near the NSW border (near Texas) is another scenic sandstone area.
The Helidon Hills, just north of Helidon (which is east of Toowoomba) is a relatively undisturbed area with many native species (pea flowers, acacias, a couple of Grevillea and Banksia species, persoonias, grass trees, etc) which make a fine show especially around August-September. Much of this area is State Forest and "Bush Walks in the Toowoomba Region" (by N.McKilligan and I.Savage, published by the University of Southern Queensland Press) is a useful reference for locating particular sites.