Centenary Lakes Cairns & Chinese Friendship Garden 

 August 11, 2020

By  Kate

Nestled in the Centenary Lakes Botanic Gardens in Cairns, stands the Zhanjiang Chinese Friendship Garden. The garden officially opened on 21 November 2015 and has now become a popular place to step into nature without even leaving Cairns.

The gardens were built in celebration of the Sister Cities relationship between Cairns and the Chinese city of Zhanjiang.

The Cairns Centenary Lakes act as a background to the Chinese Friendship Garden and are full of wildlife. You’ll often find birdwatchers and photographers enjoying the peaceful environment and capturing nature in their own unique way.

Visiting The Zhanjiang Friendship Garden

You can find these Chinese Style Gardens and pavillion on the banks of ‘Freshwater Lake’ within the Centenary Lakes Cairns gardens in Edge Hill, Cairns.

There is no charge to access the Chinese Friendship Garden (no admission fee).

The short walk from the street parking will lead you to a pavilion ideally positioned to provide you a comfortable and shaded area to overlook the landscape.

We take our young kids to the Chinese Gardens regularly because of how easy it is to access for toddlers and small children (or the elderly or those with disabilities).

It makes for a really nice outing without needing to travel out of town and it doesn’t cost anything.

It also happens to be located near the Nature Play Playground which is also a massive hit with the kids if they have a lot of energy to burn and I want them to sleep well.

My two girls love to point out the large marble dog sculptures that guard the moon gate and other contemporary structures that shape the garden.

As you walk through the garden, it’s impossible to not notice the features that draw from Chinese culture – like the moon gate and the lake-side pavilion.

Bird-Watching and Photography At The Zhanjiang Friendship Garden in Cairns

The Zhanjiang Friendship Garden has become a popular place for photographers and bird watchers, and for good reason. The calmness of the gardens attract a lot of different wildlife.

You’re bound to spot a family of ducks, as well as many other bird species such as geese, ibis’, king fishers and maybe even a bush turkey!

I have no doubt that there are many other species of birds that inhabit the area that I’m not familiar with. Any bird watchers reading this blog right now are probably having a face palm moment, but Centenary Lakes is an awesome place for bird enthusiasts.

Even if you’ve decided to do a full bird watching tour in Cairns, why not take out some of your own time to enjoy the Zhanjiang Friendship Gardens and do some bird-watching on your own.

I recently visited the Friendship Gardens during golden hour.

I watched as a photographer caught the perfect moment of a flock of ducks took off from the still waters simultaneously.

I wish I could have seen the picture that came from capturing this in such beautiful light.

Standing on the banks of the lakes, or even from the pavilion gives wildlife photographers an amazing vantage point to capture the activities of the birds.

My Tips For Visiting The Zhanjiang Chinese Friendship Garden in Cairns

If you’re planning on visiting the Zhanjiang Chinese Friendship Gardens in Cairns, here are are a few things I recommend.

Golden Hour is Gorgeous!

Golden hour anywhere is gorgeous, so I’m sure you can understand why I recommend visiting the Chinese Friendship Garden at the Centenary Lakes Cairns then.

It’s a really beautiful and calm spot to enjoy the sunset and reflect on the day.

Bring Mosquito Repellent

As beautiful as Cairns Centenary Lakes and the Chinese Friendship Garden is, at the end of the day it is a lake in the tropics. You’re quite possibly going to find mosquitoes. Especially if you want to visit the gardens during Golden Hours.

Make sure you bring some mosquito repellent with you. You may not need it, but it’s much better to be prepared than regret not bringing it.

We use a mosquito repellent which contains DEET for the adults, such as Aerogard or Bushmans. For the kiddies, we opt for the mosquito repellent bands and make sure they’re wearing long sleeved tops and pants.

Bring Your Camera

As I mentioned earlier, there’s a lot of wildlife to capture at the Zhanjiang Friendship Garden in Cairns Centenary Lake.

Whether you love to capture pictures of the wildlife, or get some gorgeous photos of your family, the lakes provide a beautiful backdrop for you.


The Chinese Friendship Gardens in Cairns is a beautiful place to visit during your stay in Cairns.

It provides a gorgeous backdrop for photographers, birdwatchers or anyone who’s just looking for a relaxing and calming place to reflect on the day.

The Chinese cultural theme of the gardens make it an alluring place for your kids to explore and celebrates the relationship of Cairns’ sister city, Zhanjiang, China.

If you found this blog helpful and you’re keen to visit the Chinese Friendship Garden at Centenary Lakes Cairns when you come to visit, make sure you save this pin to your Cairns Australia board on Pinterest.


Hi I'm Kate! I'm a massive fan of all the incredible natural beauty on this earth, and love to celebrate different cultures with family and friends. I love exploring new places and taking the drone up for a fly!

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