Coffs Harbour is home to only two of the 69 recognised species of mangroves in the world – the grey mangrove (Avicennia marina var. australasica) and the river mangrove (Aegiceras corniculatum). Mangroves are some of the most productive and biologically rich ecosystems, providing habitat for a wide variety of marine organisms – molluscs, crabs and wading birds. They also act as a nursery for fish. Mangroves protect the shore from erosion and produce large amounts of organic matter used in the food web of the estuary.
Our two boardwalks provide comfortable access into the extensive mangroves lining the eastern boundary of the Garden. These boardwalks are within the Solitary Islands Marine Park which protects habitats of aquatic flora and fauna. A bird hide on the boardwalk adjacent to the Prime Display Area depict birds commonly seen in the creek and mangroves, and is a favourite with children. At the far end of the Garden beyond the lake and Japanese section, a second boardwalk follows the northern bend of Coffs Creek.
Interpretive signs on the boardwalks describe the life of the mangroves, and how they have adapted to survive in such a harsh environment, as well as their importance to the creatures that inhabit the ooze and mud at low tide, and the fish nurseries that thrive in the protected shallow water at high tide. Australian mangroves are typically short, gnarled, salt tolerant trees and bushes inhabiting the inhospitable environment on the borders between land and water, and between fresh and salt water.