The Mt Coot-tha area forms the southeastern section of Brisbane Forest Park, a stunning area of natural bushland not much more than 20 minutes outside central Brisbane. The mountain is a popular spot all year around, with a dramatic Observation Deck offering panoramic vistas across the city – on a clear day, it’s possible to see right across the mountains towards the city and Moreton Bay, while night offers a scene of beautiful sparkling city lights beneath the stars. Interpretive facilities point out well-known Brisbane landmarks. Behind the Observation Deck is the Summit Restaurant and Bar, a fantastic dining option but bookings need to be made well in advance. A more casual option is Kuta Cafe next to the lookout.
The Mt Coot-tha Botanic Gardens are a 52-hectare space of land at the foot of the mountain that lends itself perfectly to picnics, animal spotting and gentle afternoon meanders in the sunshine. The landscaped gardens are home to a diverse display of plants, from flowers to trees to herb gardens, as well as plenty of wildlife – children (and adults!) will love to spy turtles, eels, ducks, lizards and all kinds of birds throughout the gardens. There is a licensed restaurant and cafe on site, a great alternative if you don’t feel like preparing a picnic. The Sir Thomas Brisbane Planetarium calls the Botanic Gardens home, allowing children and adults to explore the night skies through theatres, observatories and galleries.
Mt Coot-tha is also home to a handful of bushwalks for all skill and fitness levels - many lead to picnic areas equipped with barbecues, making for a nice break from the busy city without venturing too far afield. You can catch the bus there but it’s best experienced by car – not much beats escaping the city, winding down the windows and meandering through natural bushland to the summit of Mt Coot-tha.