The Gardens at Jervis Bay are located on Caves Beach Road within the Jervis Bay Territory and are open six days a week, Monday to Friday from 8.00 am until 4.00 pm and Sundays and public holidays from 10.00 am until 5.00 pm. They are closed on Saturdays. Parking is provided for visitors about 800 metres inside the main entrance gates.
At both Gardens sites all public access beyond the visitor's carpark is for pedestrians only. A network of pedestrian paths allows visitors to view most plants from a reasonable distance. For the well-being of the plants, and for visitors' own safety, visitors are encouraged not to stray from the paths except in lawned areas. It has been the Gardens' policy to provide access for people with disabilities wherever possible within the sites, although one inherent constraint is the slope of the land. Much of the development of the Gardens was done before public acknowledgment of the requirements of disabled people came to the fore. Although new developments have endeavoured to eliminate or minimise steps and keep path slopes to gradients recommended in access standards, many paths at both sites do not meet these standards. Several paths at Jervis Bay are `nature trails' traversing areas of natural bushland and are not formed and maintained to the standard required for wheelchair access.
At the Canberra site a special garden associated with the Banksia Centre has been developed to cater for people with a range of disabilities, including limited mobility. Parking spaces for disabled people are provided adjacent to this garden. A `no steps trail' has also been developed around the most visited features of the less steep parts areas of the Canberra site. This provides a route suitable for people pushing strollers or prams and for most of its distance it meets the gradients recommended for wheelchairs. At the Information Centre the Gardens provides wheelchairs for loan to visitors.
Some buildings at the Canberra site, such as the Information Centre, are open to visitors on a daily basis; other buildings such as the library and the Banksia Centre are accessible by appointment only. For security and safety reasons the Herbarium and the Nursery, with its associated glasshouses, are only open to the public on special `open days'. Quarantine restrictions mean that the Research Centre is closed to visitors.
Whilst the objective is to provide full public access wherever possible, some activities are not seen as compatible with the operation of a botanic gardens. Visitors are discouraged from indulging in activities likely to be detrimental to the well-being of the plants or likely to interfere with the enjoyment of other visitors. Activities such as ball games and the use of the gardens paths for cycling, skate-boarding and roller-skating are prohibited as is excessively amplified music or other sound equipment. Bringing domestic pets, especially dogs, into the Gardens is prohibited, whether these animals are on a lead or not. Guide dogs for the blind are able to be brought into the Gardens.
Weddings are allowed in the Gardens although no special access for the bridal vehicles is provided past the visitor's car-park. Guests and the bridal party must adhere to all the rules pertaining to normal visitors. Throwing of confetti and other material which would litter the Gardens is prohibited.
Access for people with disabilities will be a major consideration for all new developments in the Gardens and, where practicable, older developments will be altered to improve access. Because of the steepness of some of the Gardens' land, however, it is inevitable that some new developments will contain steps or stairs at some access points or into some areas. The `no steps trail' at the Canberra site will be enhanced, and the introduction of a loan or rent system to provide electrically operated wheelchairs for people with limited mobility will be investigated.
A feasibility study will be undertaken for the operation of an internal transport system for visitors. Economic factors aside, intrusion on the peaceful nature of the Gardens, air pollution, and the safety of visitors will be major considerations in this study.
The Gardens will continue to open the Nursery and glasshouses for special events when adequate security arrangements can be made, although the existing Nursery area will not be open to the public on a day-to-day basis. Provision of greater public access will be considered in the design of the new nursery area, to be located in the northern area of the Canberra site.
The Public Reference Herbarium located in the Visitor Information Centre in Canberra will be enlarged and made more `user friendly', and its use by members of the public will be encouraged. A smaller public reference herbarium will be developed for the local flora of the Jervis Bay region for visitors to that site. The main Herbarium will be accessible to bona fide research workers by appointment during normal office hours. This collection will be made accessible to the public on special days when appropriate arrangements can be made for site safety and security. The library will be open to members of the public by appointment during normal office hours.
A review of the impact of increasing numbers of weddings in the Gardens will be undertaken in order to develop future policy on this issue.