Karawatha Forest Park is not only an important wildlife haven but home to a fascinating Discovery Centre, numerous walking tracks, two picnic areas and an awesome nature play space.
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Karawatha Forest Park
Karawatha Forest Park, on the southern edge of Brisbane, is an important wildlife refuge for a large number of flora and fauna, including threatened and endangered species. The 1000 hectares of bush is one of the city’s largest areas of remnant bushland and is home to the Karawatha Forest Discovery Centre, native plant nursery, walking trails, picnic facilities and a wonderful natural play area.
There are 8 walking tracks in Karawatha Forest Park, ranging from 1 km to 2.5 km in length. All tracks are an easy grade, except for the Rocks Circuit, which is graded moderate as it contains steps. When walking in the forest, remember to look up, as the hollows in older eucalypts are ideal nesting places for gliders, possums, bats and owls.
One of the best trails for kids is the Ironbark trail. At only 1.2km in length, this trail is flat and both pram and wheelchair-friendly, making it a lovely, family-friendly stroll.
Karawatha Forest Park nature space for kids
The architecturally-designed Karawatha Forest Discovery Centre sits at the top of the picnic lawn, with covered tables and toilets off to the side. Down the hill a little from the picnic lawn is the nature play space where you will find a water play feature with a single water pump that flows down a sandy streamlined with beautiful bronze animal sculptures.
From here you can follow the paths, or hop across the wood stumps, to the climbing sections with large tree trunks to balance on and artificial rocks and tree stumps to climb. If you follow the paths past the nature play area, you will pass more toilets to get to another picnic area and the start of some of the walking tracks within Karawatha Forest Park.
Karawatha Forest Discovery Centre
You will be surprised to see how large the Karawatha Forest Discovery Centre at Karawatha Forest Park is, and how much there is to do with kids in this purpose-built facility. It is the third environment centre in Brisbane, located within the Flinder Karawatha fauna corridor, which is the perfect space to place a centre that is all about the native bushland that surrounds it.
You will spot the discovery centre as you drive into the park and will appreciate the accessibility and the obvious attempts everywhere to invite children into the space. A wooden tree-frame walkway welcomes visitors inside, followed by a floor-based light display giving kids the opportunity to engage with the tadpoles and frogs below them. From the very beginning, the experience is engaging, welcoming and ultimately a learning experience for kids.
Things to do in the Karawatha Forest Discovery Centre
Interactive digital experiences
Opportunities to sit and enjoy the space are everywhere, places to sit, books to read, holes to place tiny hands into and so many things to look at and learn from. Your kids will enjoy the nocturnal audio visual experience and have a small glimpse into what it might be like in the forest once the sun goes down.
Arts and crafts
An arts and crafts table is available for kids, with a variety of activities for them to explore.
The centre holds a number of holiday workshops, as well as in-term activities. These tend to be ticketed and can book out quickly, so it’s well worth signing up to the alerts with Brisbane City Council.
On most Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday mornings from 10 – 11am, the centre plays host to Bush Kindy. Offering a variety of nature-based sensory play activities for children aged 0-5 years, this program is very popular, so be sure to book your spot here.
In addition to the holiday wildlife workshops, there is a resident frog called Basil that calls the centre home, along with (at the time that we visited) 5 spiny insects, which are always a marvel for young kids.
Native bee hive
The native bee hive which sits within the centre offers a chance for kids to see polinators up close and personal and watch as they return to the hive with pollen on their little legs.
Native plant nursery
Before you head to Karawatha Forest Park, make sure you pack in your rates notice to bring along. The park has its own native plant nursery and if you present your rates notice you are welcome to take home two free native plants to grow in your own backyard! You are able to do this once a year.
Just outside of the nursery, the park demonstrates a garden focused on attracting and supporting polinators. It is the perfect opportunity to see what can be achieved with native plants.
Accessibility at Karawatha Forest Park
The main entrance to Karawatha Forest Park is on Acacia Road. The large car park at the Acacia Road entrance has ample parking, as well as three disabled parking spaces. From here, you can access the Karawatha Forest Discovery Centre, picnic lawn, nature play area and walking tracks. The scrubby bush around the car park opens up to a large picnic lawn dotted with tall eucalypts that cast dappled patches of shade across the lush green lawn.
Wheelchair and pram-accessible concrete paths run from the car park into and around the most of the park, with some smaller stone covered paths and wooden bridges around the nature play area.
There are several shelters, multiple picnic tables and four barbecues around the picnic lawn, making Karawatha Forest Park an ideal location for a spot of lunch, a family gathering, or a party. If you are looking for a tranquil spot to enjoy a meal, there is also the Illaweena Picnic Area, accessible via Illaweena Street. Relax by Illaweena Lagoon before crossing the bridge and take the trail into the reserve leading to the network of walking tracks.
The closest train station is Trinder Park and the reserve can be accessed from surrounding streets, including Illaweena Street, Garfield Road and Forest Way.
Karawatha Forest Park features:
- Nature play
- Shade trees
- Soft fall base around the climbing play area
- Water pump and rocky stream water play
- Picnic lawn
- Rocks and tree stumps climbing area
- Animal experiences
- Pollinator Garden
- Composting Station
- Native Plant Nursery
- Native Bee Hive
- Bush Kindy
- Sheltered tables
- Unsheltered tables
- Karawatha Forest Discovery Centre, open 9am-4pm every day but Monday when it is closed
- Network of bushwalking tracks
- Toilets – 2 blocks with accessible toilets
- Filtered water station
- Large car park with 3 disabled spaces
- Gates are open between 6.00am – 6.00pm
Karawatha Forest Park is located at 149 Acacia Road, Karawatha.