You are here: Home / What To Do / Nature, Adventure & Discovery / Plants of Cooktown and Cape York / Cooktown Botanic Gardens

Cooktown Botanic Gardens

The Cooktown Botanic Gardens were established in 1878 making them one of Queensland's oldest regional botanic gardens. The Gardens are located within the 62 hectare Gallop Botanic Reserve, situated 1.5km from the centre of Cooktown.

Opening Hours

Native Gardenia

  • Cooktown Botanic Gardens are open 24 hours a day, every day of the year
  • The surrounding Gallop Botanic Reserve is also open all year round but best visited during daylight hours
  • Nature’s Powerhouse - the botanic gardens’ art gallery, Visitor Information Centre and café is open 8.30am - 4.00pm daily (except on Monday 8.30am - 2.00pm)
  • Admission is free


  • Walker Street, Cooktown - 1.5km from town 
  • The carpark is located adjacent Walker St next to the Gardens’ entrance
  • A disabled carpark is located next to Nature’s Powerhouse
  • View a map of the gardens


Discover the GardensCooktown Orchid

Cooktown Botanic Gardens house five major plant collections:

  • species traditionally used by the local Aboriginal people
  • species collected by Joseph Banks and Daniel Solander in 1770
  • specimens provided by the Queensland Acclimatisation Society and planted in the gardens in the 19th century
  • species painted by local artist Vera Scarth-Johnson
  • species of rare and threatened plants of the shire

The gardens also have:Non-native vine

  • a palmetum, featuring tropical palms
  • a rainforest garden
  • a bush tucker garden
  • a heath garden
  • a water lily pond

 A map of the plant collections within the gardens can be found here

Nature’s Powerhouse

The Nature’s Powerhouse facility, located in the Botanic Gardens, features the Vera Scarth-Johnson Gallery, Exhibition Space, Gardens’ Shop, Café and the Cooktown Visitor Information Centre. The Vera Scarth-Johnson Gallery displays a collection of original botanical illustrations of flora from the region, painted by Vera Scarth-Johnson. You may also find prints of Joseph Banks Florilegium in there. Many plants displayed in the Gallery can be found in the adjoining Botanic Gardens. More information can be found here.

Gallop Botanic Reserve

The 62 hectare Gallop Botanic Reserve comprises high spurs of large granite boulders, bounded to the east by a granite headland with indigenous vegetation extending to the ocean and beaches at Finch Bay and Cherry Tree Bay. A walking trail within the Reserve links Grassy Hill with the Botanic Gardens via both Cherry Tree Bay and Finch Bay. A branch trail leads to two old quarries where there is still evidence of hand-quarrying. The granite blocks that were cut from these two quarries were used to kerb and channel the streets of Cooktown. More information on the Cooktown Scenic Rim Walking Trails can be found here

Birds of the Gardens

Pied Imperial Pigeon. Courtesy Lynette Ensor

More than 200 bird species have been recorded in the Botanic Gardens and Gallop Botanic Reserve. Many of the species are seasonal, so the birds that you find here will vary throughout the year. A list of the birds most commonly recorded in the Gardens is available here