Discover the Beauty of
Illawarra Rhododendron &
Rainforest Gardens

The perfect balance of peace, beauty, and relaxation in a rainforest haven.

Welcome to the Illawarra Rhododendron and Rainforest Gardens!

Our vision:

Is to be an internationally recognised garden noted for our rhododendrons, particularly vireyas, and our endangered Illawarra rainforest.

Opening Times

Gardens are open:

Tuesdays, Weekends and Public Holidays

From 10am until 5pm.

including Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day

Entry to the Gardens:

$5.00 per person

Children are free

Helen Marissa
Helen Marissa
20 January 2024
So beautiful, tranquility level 10. But be careful walking bare foot in the rainforest area, we got some sort of fire plant on our feet 🥵
22 October 2023
Simply beautiful !! You really should have a QR code for donations. The place looks so beautiful.
Vyrna Buchanan
Vyrna Buchanan
6 August 2023
Absolutely beautiful Gardens. A hidden Gem, that is sp peaceful and serene. Its lovely to picnic there feed the ducks, go for a stroll and take in all the natural beauty.
Cindy Dagger
Cindy Dagger
21 October 2022
Beautiful gardens with $5 entry fee. Was a bit slippery after heavy rain and some paths steep & areas under repair when we went. There was a wedding on when we went so it felt a bit intrusive of us walking around while it was under way but we could still enjoy other parts of the garden. Lovely flowers and birdlife and toilets available. Worth a visit.
Sam Barsby
Sam Barsby
8 May 2022
What a beautiful garden! Visited today with my family in late Autumn for Mother’s Day. Very pretty with many Rhododendrons, Camelias and Daffodils and so many other plant species and trees with a large pond with water lillies and ducks. Explored about two thirds of the garden and would love to go back again a and see more. There some chairs amongst the garden. A pergola and a seperate area with to brick BBQs that you can use wood to cook your food (although these look very old) there are some tables and chairs in this area which would seat many. Being at Mount Pleasant it is a little cooler so bring a jumper unless it’s summer
Tawfiq Choudhury
Tawfiq Choudhury
6 January 2022
Very nice secluded garden for picnic with family and friends. $5 entry fee to support volunteers maintaining the garden. Bring cash.
Julie McCurry
Julie McCurry
23 April 2021
Beautiful quiet gardens with picnic areas, open spaces, sections of dense foliage and uneven walking paths. Parking on-site but best to get there at opening time and take $5 cash for parking. Clean toilets.
Emily C
Emily C
10 April 2021
Had a lovely walk around the gardens this morning. Well maintained gardens. Little walk ways with chairs along the path to sit and take in the scenery. There were plenty of tables and grassed area if you wanted to have a picnic
Niv Sharon
Niv Sharon
2 February 2021
It's a great place to have a picnic, some do Birthdays too. You do need to pay a $5 addmission to keep the place maintained.

The Gardens

Whether you’re seeking a tranquil space for a picnic, a picturesque venue for a wedding, a place to contemplate and observe the world, or a serene forest to wander through, visiting the gardens should be at the top of your list.

We have almost 14 hectares of gardens split across two sections.

There are two sections to the Gardens

lower Gardens

In the lower section you will find our unique collection of exotic rhododendrons, vireyas (tropical rhododendrons), camellias, magnolias, acers, other companion plants and native plants in a traditional park setting.

The second section to the Gardens

Upper Gardens

In the upper section beyond the deer fence, you will find Illawarra rainforest old growth trees alongside other young and emerging Illawarra natives.

Not-for-Profit community organisation

Our Wonderful Volunteers

We are a Not-for-Profit community organisation that operates independently on land leased from the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service.
Since they began in 1969, the gardens have been managed, developed, and maintained by a group of volunteers. Through their efforts, the gardens have flourished and evolved into the stunning oasis of natural beauty that it is today.

To sustain and develop the Gardens, the volunteers rely on various sources of funding including collecting visitor entrance fees, hiring space for weddings and other events and functions, and graciously accept donations, bequests, and grants.
By visiting, you not only support a cherished local treasure, but you could also become a part of the vibrant community that protects this wonderful asset.
The gardens always welcome new members and volunteers into their community. They understand the value of fresh perspectives and diverse contributions.

Our members and volunteers ARE the gardens and after our plants and animals, they are our most treasured and valued asset.
Discover the tranquillity and charm that the gardens offer. Immerse yourself in nature’s wonders, be captivated by the myriad of colours and scents, and find solace in the serene surroundings.
Come and see the Illawarra Rhododendron and Rainforest Gardens!

Capturing the essence of the rainforest gardens

ever-changing beauty throughout the year.


With the arrival of spring, the gardens burst into a riot of color and fragrance, captivating all who visit.


During the summer season, the gardens come alive with a plethora of vibrant blooms.


Autumn casts a magical spell on the gardens as the foliage transforms into a kaleidoscope of vibrant hues.


Winter brings its own unique charm to the gardens, offering a different perspective on natural beauty.

Donations are always welcome

Please Help our wonderfull Gardens

Donations to the Illawarra Rhododendron and Rainforest Gardens can be made directly into our bank:

BSB 641 800

Account No 200953257

Account Name Illawarra Rhododendron Gardens

Thank you for supporting the Gardens Team.

Frequently asked questions

What are you opening hours?

The Gardens are open Tuesdays, Weekends and Public Holidays from 10am until 5pm.

including Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day

We are located in Parrish Avenue, Mount Pleasant.
Entry to the Gardens is $5.00 per person (Children are free)

When is the best time of year to visit and see the Rhododendron’s in bloom?

Any time of the year! There is something to see all year around.

Spring is peak flowering season in the lower gardens. You will see Rhododendrons, Azaleas, Camellias, Prunis, Crab Apples jonquils and daffodils bursting into blossom.

Summer and the jacarandas, crepe myrtles, lotus and waterlilies are blooming.

Autumn is spectacular because of the autumn leaves. Acers, and other deciduous trees change colour before eventually stand bare and proud for winter.

From Winter onwards you will see Camellias (japonica, reticulata), Magnoias, and an array of flowering bulbs.

Vireyas (tropical Rhododendrons), and various orchid species flower throughout the year

If you are a keen bush walker the rainforest trails in the upper gardens are open all year round. There are many plants to discover in the rainforest. Look out for our magnificent red cedars, towering ficus, Turpentines, Maiden’s Blush and White Bolly Gums and animals and birds including lyrebirds, bowerbirds, yellow breasted robins, kookaburras and many more.

Do I have to pay to visit the gardens?

Yes, your $5 per adult entrance fee provides funding for the upkeep and development of the gardens.
We thank you for your honesty in paying this entrance fee. Your fees and others from events held here, allow us to manage and develop the gardens.

We have provided three cash boxes in the carpark area for your cash payment and there are signs with our bank account details that will enable you to make direct funds transfers if that is more convenient.

Can I hold a wedding / family gathering in the Gardens?

Yes, we welcome weddings and family gatherings. We are happy to reserve an area for these events on the days the Gardens are open, and we will also open the Gardens for these events on days the Gardens are normally closed if required.

You must book weddings in advance, and we also recommend you book for other family events to ensure that you get the area that best suits your needs.
Bookings for weddings and other events can be made with our bookings volunteer on 0490069360 or  ua.grri@sgnikoob

Can I have my wedding photos or a family photo shoot in the Gardens?

Yes. We have many beautiful locations that are perfect for a photo shoot.  For bookings, fees, and recommendations contact our bookings volunteer on 0490069360.

How can I help in the Gardens?

New volunteers and members are always welcome.

Follow this link to find out how you could become a volunteer, call us on 0493 628 855 or come to the Gardens at 9.30am on a Tuesday or a Saturday morning and join us.

What sort of volunteers are you after?

All sorts!

  • Gardening – weeding, mulching, pruning, spraying, fertilising, horticultural advice.
  • Rainforest regeneration and protection
  • Management – committee work, volunteer recruitment and support.
  • Fund raising for Not-for-Profit (NFP) charities – obtaining grants, donations, and bequests.
  • Maintenance – repairs, building, painting, cleaning.
  • Marketing and promotion – social media, TV, Radio, advertising.
  • Governance and legislation for NFPs – Legal, accounting, etc.
  • Planning and development – strategic and operational planning, mapping.
Are there toilets?

There are conveniently located toilets adjacent to the lake.

Are there trails in the gardens for bikes?

There are no bike trails in the gardens.

Can I bring my pets or dogs on a leash?

No, sorry. Dogs and other pets are not permitted in the Gardens. We lease the land from NSW National Parks and Wildlife Services and are required to abide by National Parks rules and regulations.

Can I erect temporary structures such as tents, marquees, or gazebos on the site.

Temporary structures such as tents, marquees, or gazebos may damage the grass and pegs hammered into the ground may cause damage to underground services and cannot be erected without prior approval.

Who owns the IRRG?

The IRRG gardens are private gardens. They were established in 1969 and continue to be run and maintained by a group of volunteers.

The land was originally leased from Australian Iron and Steel. It is now leased from the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Services.

We receive no ongoing funding or supported from Wollongong Council or the NSW Government so your entry fee, and other donations, plus revenue we derive from grants and functions held here, are vital for our continued operation.

Is this place run by Council?

No, we are a self-funded charity run by a small group of volunteers. The Gardens were established in 1969 and since then, they have been developed, maintained, and managed by volunteers. Neither Wollongong Council, the NSW Government or the NPWS provide any ongoing funding or manage the gardens.

Can I buy plants at the Gardens?

No, we are not currently able to provide plant sales.