Nature-based Tourism:
New Business Opportunities

Stage Two: Request for Proposal

Eighteen nature-based tourism new business opportunities were released by the Department for Environment and Water in October 2017. Expressions of Interest for these opportunities closed on 31 January 2018 and the process has moved to Stage two.

If you are interested in keeping informed about future opportunities, please register your interest.

New garden enterprise

Mount Lofty Botanic Garden

Be the first to establish a new business in an iconic botanic garden set in the Adelaide Hills.


  • Establish a café, mobile culinary experiences or an outdoor dining experience in the stunning setting of the Mount Lofty Botanic Garden.
  • Conduct guided tours and events.

Site objectives

  • Provide unique cultural, dining or entertainment experiences for visitors.
  • Promote the relationship between South Australia’s clean green produce and nature.
  • Create jobs and business opportunities for local businesses.
  • Enhance the natural, cultural and aesthetic values of the garden and increase its use.

Site description

Regional attractions

Mount Lofty Botanic Garden is situated in the heart of the Adelaide Hills region.

The Adelaide Hills provide much more than a geographic backdrop for the city; they provide much of its food and they are a major wine-growing district with some 50 cellar doors. The region boasts a great range of wineries, craft breweries and cider houses – with something to tempt everyone. Sampling the fresh local produce or enjoying a meal from one of the providores, restaurants or cafés makes for a delightful day trip or luxurious long weekend. There is a string of quaint towns and villages that offer charming streets for exploring by foot and taking in the changing seasonal colours.

Local highlights

The garden is dedicated to the cultivation and display of the world’s cool-climate plants, which thrive in the Adelaide Hills environment.

Since opening its gates in 1977, the garden has grown steadily in popularity. In 2016-17, visitation was conservatively estimated at more than 250,000, compared to around 170,000 in the early 1990s. In April and May 2017, approximately 130,000 visitors went to the garden to enjoy the autumn colours in full bloom.

Key attractions include Rhododendron Gully, Magnolia Gully and the temperate rainforest of Fern Gully. There are more than a dozen artworks and sculptures dotted around the garden, including several by Greg Johns – one of Australia’s best known and most successful contemporary sculptors. These, along with the Lakeside Trail’s eight plant-themed artworks, are some of the garden’s most photographed sights. The garden – in particular its Arboretum – is revered for its countless picnic areas, and was included in a Herald Sun’s national “14 Perfect Picnic Spots” (February 2017).

One of the oldest sections of the Heysen Trail passes through the garden. The trail is one of the world’s great long-distance walks and attracts enthusiastic trekkers from near and far.

The Chris Steele Scott Visitor Pavilion was opened in 2015 and provides the ideal space for events. The current event calendar includes gardening masterclasses, monthly plant sales (hosted by the Friends of the Botanic Gardens of Adelaide) and volunteer Garden Blitzes. Weddings are hosted throughout the year, although there is potential to increase the number of weddings held with targeted marketing. The garden is also used regularly for commercial and media photography shoots.

Future potential

Mount Lofty Botanic Garden provides the ideal setting for a new business to establish a café, mobile culinary experiences or an outdoor dining experience.

Potable water will be connected to Mount Lofty Botanic Garden by March 2018.

The Mount Lofty and Wittunga Botanic Gardens are managed by the Board of the Botanic Gardens and State Herbarium, together with the Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources (DEWNR).

Should you be offered the opportunity to progress your idea, the expectations of the Board and DEWNR for the establishment of the commercial enterprise within the gardens will be detailed in stage two.

Mount Lofty Botanic Garden is currently open to the public Monday to Friday between 8.30 am and 4 pm, and on weekends and public holidays between 10 am and 5 pm (6 pm during daylight savings).