The closest suburb to the trailhead is Mount Coot-Tha, Queensland
Brisbane Botanic Gardens Visitor Centre car park
The car park and starting point at the Brisbane Botanic Gardens
On a previous visit to Brisbane we did the Mount Cooth-Tha Summit Walk and given the number of people we came across, it was definitely one of the most popular walks for many Brisbane locals and visitors alike. Recently we were back in town doing the family thing and headed back to the Mount Cooth-Tha area deciding to do a relatively new designated walk, the Spotted Gum Trail that starts at the car park of the Brisbane Botanic Gardens. In reality the name implies a pleasant walk through eucalyptus forest which is exactly what you get but what we didn’t realise was that this walk was in fact an alternate summit walk to the top of Mount Cooth-Tha.
As non-Brisbane locals we were a bit confused because we assumed by the maps we we could park very close to the actual start of the trail. While there are roads that go to this point, they were closed to the public and used as internal roads for the Botanic Gardens staff. This means we had to park in the visitor car park and make our way through the Gardens to the formal start of the trail itself. If you arrive late during a busy day you may need to park across the road in the overflow car park. One quirky thing about the walks in this area is that they are shown as one way so this walk is listed as a 2.4 km walk which doesn’t include the walk from the car park through the Gardens or the return – for us this trail ended up being 6.7 km in total.
As mentioned this walk is relatively new so while some of the signage has been installed there are still some temporary signs in place that are relatively easy to follow. To get the start of this walk you follow the Citriodora route (#6) which takes you outside the botanic gardens and up the hill. Keep this in mind because the gate is opened and closed at set times. Once we made our way through the gardens passing a number of Brush Turkeys and flowering plants we turned up the hill and around 100 meters after leaving the Gardens, we arrived at the trail signage for the Spotted Gum Trail. This trail has more road noise than the Mount Cooth-Tha Summit Walk until you get around half way up the summit. One big bonus of the Spotted Gum Trail is that there is much less foot traffic than the main summit walk so while there are still people, around it has a more isolated feel.
The Spotted Gum Trail is mainly on natural trail rather than a sealed trail and apart from inside the Gardens and the summit itself, there are no water bubblers on the track so you need to bring our own. At the summit there is a cafe, tourist shop, toilets, and water. Each time we have summited we have spent time enjoying morning tea before making our way back down. If you only feel like doing the walk up the hill, then you can always arrange to have someone collect you at the summit. In our case we walked back down and once we reached the mid point in the Gardens, turned left and explored the other half of the loop for provide a bit of variety.
On the day we did this walk apart from birdlife there was no visible animal life along this trail and given the limited natural water which is the exact opposite of the summit walk, that’s not unsurprising. The walk back down the hill was relatively easy and all up the total 6.7 km took us around 2.5 hours including our morning tea stop.
I really enjoyed this trail and found it to be a very different experience in getting to the summit and would happily do it again.
The car park and start point at the Brisbane Botanic Gardens
Follow trail number 6 to get to the start of the Spotted Gum Trail – it that takes you out of the Gardens and up the hill to the summit
Turn left as you leave the Visitor Centre
Follows the signs
Internal road through the gardens
Flowering Kangaroo Paw
Toilets within the Gardens
Past the lake
Turn off the road and out the gate
Gate opening times
Follow the sign up the hill
2400 metres up the hill
On the trail
Views down to the surrounding suburbs
The summit car park
Brisbane city from the summit of Mount Coot-Tha
Down we go
Always on the lookout for interesting bark
Almost back to the Gardens gate
Turn left to explore the other half of the loop road
Gravel mine just outside the Gardens
Bougainvillea in flower
Approaching the exit gate
Back to the car park
Back to the car
This short video contains photos and videos to show you the walk from start to finish
Close up of map to trailhead which is under 8 km from the Brisbane GPO and a 13 minute car drive
This walk was undertaken by the team from Australian Hiker