After a long week stuck in front of a computer, sitting at a desk in a stuffy office, nothing sounds better than taking the family out for an adventure and re-introducing colour and beauty to my tired eyes before they start to go square. This weekend we finally decided to head to Maleny to experience what has been heralded as one of the most breathtaking Botanical Gardens ever conceived in our quiet part of the world, along with an extravagant aviary where you can get up close and personal with some of the rarest and extravagant species of birds in the world, whether you like it or not. The Maleny Botanical Gardens & Bird World.
One of my greatest passions is my amateur photography. I have way more toys than I know what to do with, and spend enough money to make the sight of them sitting gathering dust rather painful, so trips like these are a great opportunity to drag some of it out and pretend for a while like I’m a real photographer, and it helps keep the wife off my back about it all. The Gardens themselves are spectacular and I spent a number of hours merely wandering around getting some stunning images of plants that you won’t see anywhere else in Australia – rare, beautiful and exotic, perfectly complimented by the crafted, almost sculpted garden beds cut into the escarpment of the land. The water features, lakes and rivers that compliment their surrounds so spectacularly offer some even better photo opportunities, allowing me to play with light and the crystal clear reflections that dance over the surface. At last count the Gardens cover an estimated fourteen acres of land and are constantly expanding. They are surrounded by a magnificent and wild rainforest with some unmatched views of the iconic Glasshouse Mountains. I had great fun playing with layering of the elements of my surrounds and will definitely have to make a return trip whenever I get new toys to test run.
While I love the gardens, the highlight of the trip was hands down the Aviary. Covering roughly a thousand square meters, the Aviary was opened in November 2013 and is home to over three hundred and fifty birds, all of which fly freely throughout the area and are more than happy to take a rest on your shoulder or even the top of your freshly done do, if they’re bold enough. As we stepped inside we were greeted warmly, not just by the tour guide, but by the birds themselves. The seemingly disembodied voices rang out from above us. As we looked up we saw our welcoming party swooping down to say their hellos, both in english and bird talk, whatever that might sound like, ‘SQUARK’ it would seem. As we slowly walked around we saw everything from bright Macaws to any number of other bright exotics as well as the iconic Galla and Rosella. I took the opportunity to take some of my favourite images, not just the action shots of mid-flight Macaws with their brilliant plumage, but also a Galla named George, landing on an elderly ladies beehive before bending down to peck her glasses inquiringly. George is a well known ‘character’ according to our lovely tour guide. He also found my lens very interesting. As he was resting on a low branch I took an opportunity to have an up close and personal chat with George. At first he was very accommodating, making sure I got his best side in the best light, but quickly lost interest in posing and investigated the buzzing coming from my zooming lens. Obviously the hardened plastic of my camera must have appealed because he quickly took a liking and I had to retreat and put myself between my new friend and his treat. The entire experience was fantastic, from the beautiful gardens themselves, the fun and excitement and majesty of the birdlife, to the peaceful picnic lunch my family and I shared on the soft green grass, surrounded by so much beauty. It’s definitely worth the trip.
For more information on the Gardens and the Aviary visit their website.