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Olive Pink Botanic Garden – a Desert Oasis
A true desert oasis right in the heart of Alice Springs! Olive Pink Botanic Garden should be on your ‘to do’ list when visiting central Australia. Explore the self-guided walks, learn about the desert plants, their medicinal uses and about the life of the garden’s founder, Miss Olive Pink.
Olive Pink Botanic Garden was founded by one of Alice Springs colourful characters. A great place to spend the afternoon. Enjoy the walking trails and take in the views over Alice Springs, the Todd River and the MacDonnell Ranges.
Here are our top reasons why you should put the Olive Pink Botanic Garden on your ‘to do’ list when visiting Alice Springs.
The extraordinary Miss Pink
A multi-talented lady, Miss Pink was an anthropologist, botanical artist and aboriginal rights advocate. She was described as ‘indomitable’ and ‘unforgettable’ and above all, was a much admired member of the Alice Springs community.
At the age of 72, Miss Pink set up her tent on what is now Olive Pink Botanic Garden. It is where she lived until her death in 1975, aged 91. Miss Pink and her Warlpiri gardener, Johnny Jampijinpa Yannarilyi, planted native trees and shrubs throughout the garden as well as an eclectic collection of flowers, agaves and other introduced plants.
Miss Olive Muriel Pink was the visionary behind the first Arid Zone Botanic Garden in the southern hemisphere. She successfully lobbied NT politicians to establish a Flora Reserve in order to protect our native flora. The ‘Australian Arid Regions Native Flora Reserve” was founded in October 1956.
Aboriginal Cultural Heritage
Annie Meyers Hill is a very significant Arrernte cultural site associated with ‘caterpillar dreaming’. A sign at the top depicts an Arrernte view of Alice Springs and the surrounding country.
Signage throughout the garden provides information about traditional bushfoods, medicinal plants and local Aboriginal culture. Stop and read them as you wander through this unique desert garden.
The Olive Pink Botanic Garden Walks
For a $5 donation, pick up a guide for the self-guided tours and trails through the garden, complete with maps and descriptions of the plants.
Annie Meyers Hill, is called Tharrarletneme by the local Arrernte people.
Take the 30 minute steep rocky trail to the top to enjoy the extensive views across Alice Springs, over the gardens and along the Todd River.
Follow the numbered plant trail with the guide offering descriptions as you go. Look for the Dead Finish shrub and the native fig tree at the top which appears to be growing out of a rock.
A self-guided 15 minute circuit that starts near the café. Take your guide with you to learn more about the plants and trees along the walk.
The Wattle Walk has some of the larger tree in the garden including several species of Mulga and Wattles. In spring you’ll see yellow blossoms throughout this part of the gardens. Kangaroos and Black-footed wallabies often feed freely throughout the gardens.
The cafe is also the starting point for this self-guided walking circuit. Featuring a number of different species of gum trees along the pathway, each of these eucalypts have different bark and colours in their trunks.
Olive Pink Trail
The trail begins near the gazebo in the centre of the gardens. The one-way walking trail takes you past some of her original Bean Tree plantings, and the site where she lived.
Birds, Wallabies and Wildlife
Excellent birdwatching and wildlife viewing exist throughout the garden.
Black-footed Rock Wallaby and Euros (hill kangaroos) are regularly seen, and over 80 bird species have been recorded, including a number noted to be rare.
Blending in with their surroundings, rock wallabies are often very hard to spot so keep a keen eye out for them. Many other mammals, frogs and reptiles live in this native wildlife haven.
The last time I visited, small shrubs were loaded with hatching butterflies. As the butterflies emerged from their cocoons they lay in the sun until their wings are dry enough to fly.
The Western Bowerbird is often spotted building it’s nest around the base of a tree. Identified easily by the shiny white, silver or blue objects decorating the entry to it’s nest. These birds perform elaborate courting rituals to attract a mate.
You will often see Ring Neck Parrots, Finches, several different Honey-eaters and blue wrens. The guidebook has a calendar to help you identify them.
Art and Sculpture
A number of sculpture installations and creative artworks can be found throughout the Olive Pink Botanic Garden. There are mosaic seats, rustic bolt and post arches, a large wire emu and other large sculptures blending into the gardens.
Throughout the year you will find artists visiting the garden to sketch and paint the landscape, flowers and flowers, birds and other wildlife.
The Bean Tree Cafe
Enjoy breakfast, lunch or morning or afternoon tea in these beautiful garden surrounds. Popular with travellers and locals alike, the Bean Tree Café is a great place to hang out and enjoy a cuppa.
The Bean Tree café serves delicious home-style dishes, burgers, salads, tarts, cakes and slices to tempt you for lunch and dinner. Listen to the birds chirping away in the trees. If you’re lucky you will see a Black-Footed Wallaby or a Perentie wander past while you’re enjoying the lunch.
Opening times vary with the seasons, check out their FaceBook Page for their current hours.
How to get to Olive Pink Botanic Garden
The Olive Pink Botanic Garden is a community organisation. Entry is free, but if you can please leave a donation.
A ten-minute walk from the visitor information centre, the garden is on the eastern bank of the Todd River.
The main entrance is on the corner of Tuncks Road and Barrett Drive.
Inspired to visit the Olive Pink Botanic Garden? Pin this for later …
Olive Pink Botanic Garden is one of my favourite places to visit when in Alice Springs but don’t stop there, there is so much more to see.
Other things to do in Alice Springs
- Best Things to do in Alice Springs
- Parrtjima – Central Australia’s Festival in Light
- Take a Camel Tour with Mr Personality
- The Red Centre Way is the Australian Outback Experience