I'm not sure how I've overlooked talking about Darwin's beautiful Botanic Gardens yet, but I guess the delay in getting around to it now means I can also throw in a mention about the recently opened cafe that sits within the grounds.

The George Brown Botanic Gardens is one of Darwin's historic (post settlement) institutions. First established 130 years ago, it boasts some behemoths of the plant world, a meandering community garden, an amphitheatre and, as previously mentioned, a cafe. Unlike many reputable city gardens, however, it lacks a gift shop. Sucker that I am for museum and garden gift shops alike, I find this crushingly disappointing.

Still, on the plus (and non-materialist) side, it is a space where dogs are allowed to run off lead (unlike many of those aforementioned gift shop bearing gardens). And the new cafe is also fully set up for canine visitors (complete with complementary dog bowls). I have yet to investigate in-depth, but it seems that very few Darwin cafes allow dogs any more. I was pretty sad to see that one of my favourite cafes - The Cool Spot - recently revoked a long standing practice of allowing dogs in their outdoor seating area.

This newly established food and coffee spot - Eva's Botanical Garden cafe - seems to be turning into a fast favourite with many locals. The building itself is the reconstructed Methodist church that was moved to the gardens in 2000. With high ceilings, louvred walls and botanical prints throughout, I've been totally seduced by the aesthetic of the place, though - as with many places in Darwin - the food is a bit overpriced for what it is, the service is a little on the lax side and I wasn't really left feeling that I'd just forked over a well spent $16 for the world's most amazing and generously portioned salad. The coffee and raw cakes are, however, well worth the visit - not to mention the overall ambiance and setting.
So, after a slice of one of those cakes, the gardens are a welcome space for a ramble. Located within one of Darwin's few hilly spots, just over the road from Mindil Beach, up one side of the hill is a meandering rainforest walk complete with pools and streams. Some weird and wonderful plants to keep an eye out for are the cannonball trees, the large boababs, flowering heliconias and the desert rose collection.

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