Colac Botanic Gardens

Walking paths Botanic Gardens

The Colac Botanic Gardens

The Colac Botanic Gardens occupy about 16 hectares in an elevated position along the southern banks of Lake Colac.

A 1.1 kilometre carriageway circumnavigates the gardens, providing access to cars, runners, walkers and cyclists. Mature oak trees planted along the perimeter provide shade and weather protection to visitors.

A series of walking paths weaves through the gardens, showcasing feature garden beds and trees, places to sit, open lawn areas and beautiful vistas across the lake.

At the eastern end of the gardens, a children’s playground and barbecue area provides a fantastic place for family time.

The former curator’s cottage (c.1924) at the western end of the gardens has been converted into the popular Botanic Café.

On the centre northern fringe of the Gardens a viewing platform provides a place to rest and enjoy the view across the lake towards Warrion Hills, while a set of steps down the steep escarpment provides easy access to the Lake Colac foreshore.

Public toilets are located on the lake foreshore.

Gates enabling vehicle access to the gardens are open from 10am to 4pm daily. Dogs on leads are welcome in the Gardens. Doggy disposal bags are provided at the western and middle gates.


Colac Botanic Gardens are of historical, aesthetic & scientific (botanical) significance to Victoria.  Two of Australia’s most influential and revered directors of botanic gardens had a hand in their design.

The Gardens were established in 1865, and in 1868 Daniel Bunce, Director of the Geelong Botanic Gardens, was appointed to lay out the gardens in a “proper & scientific manner”.  In 1910, outstanding botanist and landscape designer, William Guilfoyle was engaged to redesign the gardens.  Guilfoyle’s design retained the carriageway and highlighted the lake embankment as well as the vistas of the lake and hills through the trees. A copy of his design is on display in the Botanic Cafe.

The National Trust classified the gardens in 1990.


The Gardens are one of Victoria’s largest regional botanic gardens. They contain many rare plant species only found in historic botanic gardens. Seven have been placed on the National Trust of Victoria’s Significant Trees Register.

These include four Cupressus forbesii (Tecate cypress), the only known examples in Victoria; a very large Sophora japonica (Pagoda tree); a Pittosporum tenuifolium ‘Eila Keightley' (Kohuhu); large Araucaria bidwillii (Bunya Bunya Pine); and an outstanding Ulmus x hollandica 'Vegeta' (Huntington Elm).

Living Plant Collections are a feature: Acacia (wattles), Quercus (oaks), Cupressus (cypress), Pinus, Otway mountain flora, Otway foothills/heathland flora, Bush Tucker, Pittosporum & Palms.

The carriageway is lined with English and Turkish oaks.

Pine trees planted on a steep escarpment leading to the Lake Colac foreshore provide weather protection and create a micro climate for the gardens, allowing for many unique tree and plant species to thrive.

Friends of the Colac Botanic Gardens

The Friends of Colac Botanic Gardens is a volunteer body formed to foster interest in the preservation and development of the Colac Botanic Gardens.

The Friends of the Colac Botanic Gardens was established in May 1990 as an advisory committee to Council, to assist Council in the consultative process and provide independent external advice and information to support the decision making of Council.

2015 was the 150th anniversary of the 1865 setting aside of land for the Gardens. To celebrate this milestone the Friends commissioned Helen Paatsch, a member, to write a history of the Gardens: “For the Pleasure of the People – A history of 150 years of the Colac Botanic Gardens”.  It is available through the Friends and local bookshops.  The Friends also funded & assisted with the refurbishment & replanting of the Rose Arbour.

The Friends of the Colac Botanic Gardens welcome new members. Some members take part in a potting group, propagating plants for sale to raise funds for the Gardens. The Friends also conduct tours of the gardens for groups.

Grey Headed Flying Foxes

The Colac Botanic Gardens is home to a large colony of grey headed flying foxes. Find out more about this protected species here.

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