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Royal Botanic Gardens: A Magical Labyrinth

The old parchment revealed a quote from a mysterious early explorer.  

Can you use your detective skills to unravel who it was and when they said it?  

Add the excitement of solving a mystery to your outdoor adventure with our self-guided puzzle-based walking trail through the natural, relaxing beauty of the Royal Botanic Gardens. 

Nestled next to the Opera House and overlooking a sparkling harbour, you find 74 acres of peace, fun, exploration and education, making it one of Sydney’s most visited locations. 

On this site in 1788, Governor Phillip established the first farm on 'Terra Australia' and named the bay, Farm Cove.The farm failed but work to improve soil fertility and cultivation has been ongoing.  

In 1816 Governor Macquarie established the Botanic Gardens here. It is Australia’s oldest scientific institution and one of the world’s most important historic botanical establishments. It is open every day of the year, sunrise to sunset and access is free. 

A succession of botanists continued to develop these gardens into today’s stunning surrounds. Land was reclaimed from Farm Cove to increase the space and the cove 'wall' remains today. The Botanic Garden was home to Sydney's first zoo (1862-1883) before it moved to Moore Park.

This trail is one of two Botanic Gardens circular tours. Focusing on south, it will take you on a maze of intricate pathways, past ornate fountains, through sunny Rose Gardens, under lush ferns, and through tropical groves.

Feel and smell the pungent, manicured Herb Gardens. Marvel at the dessert landscapes of the Succulent Garden.  Discover where the grand Garden Palace was located before being destroyed by fire.  On top of this, have fun searching for clues to solve our PuzzleTrail mystery!!

For information on gate openings, maps and events on the day, see

How to get there..

  • Your PuzzleTrail starts at the Morshead Fountain Gate. The closest station is Martin Place or a bus to Macquarie St & Hunter St. It is also walkable from Circular Quay (bus /ferry/train) or Wynyard Station.
  • It ends at a close-by gate, 1 mins further away, to give you the option to indulge at the Palace Gate Café!
  • There are plenty of city carparks (google Wilson Parking for online deals) and Bus/train/ferry Transport info is available from TransportNSW (google Sydney Transport to easily locate). Also, the city has free street parking on Sundays. 


Additional options to make more of day out…. 

  • Take a picnic and games:  Expansive lawns (which you are encouraged to walk on!) great harbour views and many shady trees mean you can pick your own special spot or even take a ball or Frisbee! Just don’t feed the birds, or you might have more lunch guests than desired!
  • Another PuzzleTrail: For the really energetic, try another close-by trail!



There are some steps in this part of the garden. Strollers should be OK with help, and often there is a grass slope alternative, but it is not recommended for wheelchairs.

Garden rules prohibit bringing in ‘non-service’ animals. You will find facilities marked on your guide,  as well as well-earned cafés!

Let’s get PuzzleTrailing!

  • Your downloaded booklet provides details on the facilities en-route and all you need to complete the trail and find all the clues. Miss one? Simply retrace your steps or if really stuck follow the SMS instructions in your booklet to get some hints!
  • Each answer can be filled in on the answer sheet found on the back page. Complete all answers to reveal the name of a famous Australian and the role they played in Sydney’s heritage!

Last word…….  RememberSlip, Slop, Slap”  (Google that if needed!)  ...and take a camera!! 

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