Brisbane has no shortage of parks, and one of the city’s best is tucked away about 11 kilometres from the CBD in the suburb of Sherwood. It’s our version of Sherwood Forest named Sherwood Arboretum, which is 15 hectares of glorious parkland by the Brisbane River. Tree and nature lovers will rejoice, as here you’ll find over 1100 trees from roughly 250 species. There are also two playgrounds, plenty of birdlife and the park is dog-friendly.
Sherwood Arboretum – A Bit of History
In 1924, members of the Queensland Forestry Association – made up of people from the forestry, botanic and scientific community, and the Governor of Queensland – met in Sherwood with the idea of establishing an arboretum to showcase Australia’s fauna to the world. So, on World Forestry Day on the 21st March 1925, the idea was inaugurated and 72 kauri pines were planted in two grand rows named Sir Matthew Nathan Avenue. Today, each of these trees contains a plaque, commemorating who planted them and when.
This makes Sherwood Arboretum a grand sight to behold upon first visit, particularly after there’s been a bit of rain, when the fields are so green. It was a bit dry on our visit just last week, but there was enough shade and greenery to provide a pretty day’s lazing, especially as we’d prepared a picnic!
Picnicking in Sherwood Arboretum
Nikki had made a salad, we brought some bread rolls and snacks, and I even brought some Shiraz for a gay old time in the park. We also brought our cocker spaniel Cookie, who’s a bundle of energy, hates closed doors and has an extreme case of FOMO. He wasn’t missing out today though. When we arrived, we walked past the two playgrounds to get a nice spot, which there was no shortage of, by the Brisbane River.
As I’ve mentioned, it was a little dry on our visit, but we managed to find a patch of grass beneath some tall, riverside trees. We attracted a couple of picnic-hungry birds and tied up Cookie on his five-metre lead, just out of food’s reach (much to his displeasure), although he kept the birds at bay. It was also a warm Spring day and crusty leaves dotted our picnic area and much of the grassland. After our adventures with salad, tuna and wine (for me), Nikki and Olin strolled off towards the playground while Cookie and I went off exploring the park.
Sir Matthew Nathan Avenue
I read the following people were involved in planting the 72 kauri pines on Sir Matthew Nathan Avenue on the inauguration day: Queensland Government Botanist Cyril Tenison White, Governor of Queensland Sir Leslie Orme Wilson, Analytical Chemist and Government Analyst John Brownlie Henderson and Sherwood Doctor David Gifford Croll, who also served in Gallipoli. Of course there were many more, but these were the ones that caught my eye. Reading all this put me in a reverie of times gone by…
The grand avenue continues to the other side of the park and when you’re strolling along it, it looks quite pretty, as you can see. It was named after former Queensland Governor, Sir Matthew Nathan.
Exploring the Grounds
Cookie and I then wandered over to the duck pond, on the side of the park opposite Brisbane River and then we meandered through the park, passing under a willow tree and again, I pictured how lovely this park would look after some consistent rain, like an English garden. The problem with Brisbane though, is it either rains ridiculously hard or it doesn’t at all, and a marker in the grounds showing the height of the 1974 floods is a stark reminder of this.
Cookie and I wandered through ‘the wet rainforest zone’, ‘the low open coastal zone’, and the melaleuca rainforest zone’. Each of these areas contains Australian native flora typical of these regions.
Some More Sherwood Arboretum History
We also passed large groups of picnickers, people playing outdoor games and lonely seats with plaques. One plaque read ‘in loving memory of Hugh Frederick and Marguerite Robinson, married in the old wooden St. Matthews church, Sherwood, in January 1914. Another read, ‘in memory of my grandfather, George Bjorklof. Died POW July 1942. Sherwood Arboretum contains many memories, which put me in a thoughtful mood as I continued through the park.
We passed a commemoration to the stolen generation of Aboriginal Australians – a lengthy acknowledgment and apology – which was surrounded by some pleasant artwork in a natural setting with a seat beneath a tree. From here we circled back to our picnic spot and continued on to the River Boardwalk.
The River Boardwalk
This walk’s a highlight of Sherwood Arboretum (take a look at my video at the end, for a better idea), as it meanders through a pretty forest before following the edge of the Brisbane River back into the park. Here Cookie and I watched some water enthusiasts – some people putting along in a boat, others bouncing along in the water, tied to some rope. You could spend a good half an hour in this part, at least, and I enjoyed spying the mansions and long, sloping lawns on the other side of the river.
Note: there’s typically a pontoon attached to the boardwalk for recreational transport, although it was broken and submerged when we were there.
Birdlife and Boxes
We saw a few birds on our wanders, baby magpies and the like. One thing I noticed was the nest boxes high up in the trees, which provide homes for sugar gliders, microbats, owls, parrots and other treetop residents of Sherwood Arboretum. As I’ve mentioned, ducks also occupy the area in numbers, and the boxes are designed to encourage numbers and it appears to be working. Reports are the boxes are at 80 – 100% occupancy, with the duck and parrot boxes being the most popular. There are also many more bird varieties in the park, more than 170 species in all.
Continuing on from our boardwalk adventure, Cookie and I walked along the western boundary of Sherwood Arboretum towards ‘Fig Avenue’. Here there were some towering beauties and lots of shade too. There was some fig rehabilitation going on, and beyond this, there was a nice green patch of grass, which Cookie took delight in rolling in. It’s worth your time to stop here for a bit and enjoy these old, large twisted mammoths.
From here we wandered back over the hill towards the playground, completing a full circuit of Sherwood Arboretum. It isn’t a big park, being just 15 hectares in size, but it’s big enough to fill an adventurous spirit for a few hours and if you really look, there’s a lot to see. We found the gang at the playground and took them on the whole tour of the park again, which Cookie and I were happy to do.
There are two playgrounds at Sherwood Arboretum. One of them, which is suitable for younger kids, sits under a grand old tree and the other is more exposed. Equipment at the playgrounds include swings, slides, climbing equipment, a fort, dizzy sticks, a spider web tower, monkey bars and a flying fox, which is really very small. The playgrounds are more for ages 3 – 8 but my fidgety 12-year-old enjoyed himself for a good hour or two.
Sherwood Arboretum contains toilets and there are seats, BBQ facilities and taps throughout the grounds. There’s a car park with partial shade and a boardwalk too. The toilets are also wheelchair accessible and there are wheelchair-accessible paths leading from the car park, the toilets, playgrounds and shelter areas. There’s also a concrete path that runs a fair way through the park, which is bicycle and scooter-friendly.
In case you missed the part where I walked around Sherwood Arboretum with my dog, the park is dog-friendly. We loved this as Cookie has pretty bad separation anxiety so we try and take him with us when we can. Sherwood Arboretum is the perfect spot for doggies, as there’s plenty to sniff and it’s a large enough place for them to explore. However, because of the extensive birdlife within the grounds, dogs must be kept on a leash at all times.
However, Cookie was the luckiest dog in the park as I brought his five-metre lead and walked him around in that. He was running in short bursts all around the park!
In all, we spent about 3-4 hours at Sherwood Arboretum, picnicking, playing and exploring and we thought it was totally worth a visit. It also made me open my eyes to Sherwood – a place I don’t visit very often as it’s on the other side of the city for me. It’s a pretty, leafy, quiet part of Brisbane that made me think I could live down this way for sure!
Facts & Summary
- Sherwood Arboretum is about a 20-minute drive to the CBD. However, if you’re driving around peak hour, Albert Bridge can get congested and it could take you significantly longer.
- There are taps, toilets and BBQ facilities throughout the grounds.
- Sherwood Arboretum is a great place for a picnic. In fact, it was made for it!
- Give yourself about 3 hours here. However, you could easily make a day of it, particularly with outdoor games and/or a large group of friends.
- Sherwood Arboretum is wheelchair friendly (see my facilities section above for more detail).
- There are over 1100 trees from 250 species in the grounds, and over 170 bird species!
- The place is dog-friendly but dogs must be kept on a leash.
- There are two playgrounds in the park (see my playground section for more detail).
Sherwood Arboretum is totally worth a visit.
Get amongst it!