Discover the Beauty of
Illawarra Rhododendron &
The perfect balance of peace, beauty, and relaxation in a rainforest haven.
Welcome to the Illawarra Rhododendron and Rainforest Gardens!
Is to be an internationally recognised garden noted for our rhododendrons, particularly vireyas, and our endangered Illawarra rainforest.
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
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
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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?
- 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.