The Mount Coot-tha Protection Alliance (MCPA) has expressed strong disappointment with the Council’s decision to approve the Lumina light show at Brisbane Botanical Gardens, citing a flawed consultation process.

On 28 July, 2023, Brisbane City Council approved an application from the private company LightDreaming to establish a permanent light show in Brisbane’s Botanical Gardens at Mount Coot-tha.

LightDreaming, an Australian company, will fully fund, install, and manage the Lumina Light Show. Council views the light show as an “exciting opportunity” for Brisbane, offering more attractions at the Mt Coot-tha Botanic Gardens during nighttime.


Key Points

  • Brisbane council has approved the lumina light show amid strong opposition.
  • Private company LightDreaming will install a permanent light show in Brisbane’s Botanical Gardens at Mount Coot-tha for a forecast 2400 people per night.
  • Mount Coot-tha Protection Alliance says 99% of submissions to Council opposed the light show, citing impacts on local wildlife and ecosystems.
  • Greens and Labor mayoral candidates have both expressed disappointment over the light show approval and rejected commercialisation of public spaces.


MCPA spokesperson on this proposal, Bronwyn Raftery, noted that various well-qualified people and groups, including ecologists, indigenous representatives, community associations, and citizens, provided detailed submissions opposing the plan.

An overwhelming 99 per cent of public submissions raised concerns about multiple aspects of the proposal, such as the impact on local fauna and flora, increased noise and traffic, and the inappropriate commercialisation of public space.

Ms Raftery said that by proceeding with the approval, Council disregarded the National Light Pollution Guidelines for Wildlife and overlooked issues related to noise and light disturbances caused by potential nightly attendance of up to 2,400 people and associated vehicles.

“The approval makes a mockery of public consultation. Imagine a scoreline of 477-6 resulting in a match being awarded to the loser. Yet this is exactly what has happened here, and it suggests that overwhelming and reasoned community input counts for nothing if Council wants to bulldoze a proposal through.”

“The approval also overlooks the noise and light disturbance from as many as 2,400 people arriving each night, in up to six one-hour sessions, together with the cars and buses bringing them”.

Ms. Rafferty said the Gardens are one of the nation’s leading scientific botanical collections.

“Yet Council decided that its own requirement for developments to “preserve and restore areas of high botanical and zoological significance” doesn’t even apply, on the technicality that the Botanic Gardens are not designated as a biodiversity area.”


Ms Bronwyn Raftery, said that “Brisbane City Council, who solicited a single  company with no tender, appears never to have wanted the public to have any real say in the outcome of the

Statements made in support of the Botanic Gardens location during public meetings have been undermined by the inception of light shows at other city locations rejected by LightDreaming, Ms Raftery noted.

When asked why the far more accessible and less sensitive Roma Street Gardens weren’t chosen instead, the proponents argued that there was too much light there and they were unsuitable. Yet now we see the Enchanted Gardens light show being run at Roma Street quite successfully, as well as a short-term light show in the City Centre Botanical Gardens.”

Ms. Raftery said that MCPA believes those most involved with the Gardens could have offered significant insights on the proposal. She expressed disappointment that Gardens employees and Volunteer Guides have been instructed not to comment publicly on the plans.

“We consider this decision is a defeat for Brisbane residents, whose affection for the mountain and its environs runs deep, but a win for the commercialisation of public space. We encourage residents to remind Council of their wish to protect and preserve Mount Coot-tha and surrounds at every opportunity.”

“That could include asking their candidates in the forthcoming City Council election to state their position on this issue and the protection of Mt. Coot-tha more broadly.”

Greens and Labor Mayoral Candidates saddened by Council’s decision.

We asked the Greens and Labor Mayoral candidates for their views on Council’s approval of the Lumina Light Show. Both told the Westender that they were saddened by the Council’s approval of the project.

Asked recently on ABC Radio whether he supports the Lumina Light Show, Greens Mayoral Candidate Jonathan Sriranganathan said he voted against the proposal when a Councillors, saying Council “made the decision behind closed doors and then gave priority treatment to one business.”

“I feel sad that this is the only idea the Council could come up with to encourage more people to connect with and get excited about the Botanic Gardens. While reasonable people might argue over the finer details, it’s obvious that a light show in an otherwise quiet and dark vegetated area will have some degree of negative impact on wildlife,” Sriranganathan said.

Asked if he would revoke the decision if elected, Mr Sriranganathan said:

“There are certainly a range of pathways the council could use to revoke or amend approvals for the Lumina business, and this is something the Greens would push for if we can knock the LNP out of their majority in the 2024 council election.”

“I’m not dogmatic about saying there should be no commercialisation of public spaces – the odd coffee cart or pop-up event or even an occasional ticketed festival is fine, but the crucial point is that such decisions should be made by residents themselves via democratic processes, rather than by one or two politicians meeting with the representative of a private, profit-motivated business behind closed doors.”

Tracey Price, Labor’s candidate for Mayor, said Brisbane is full of brilliant, open public spaces and should be available for all to enjoy. 

“I’m saddened to see that the LNP in Council have commercialised yet another public landmark against the wishes of the community.”

“Over 600 residents signed a petition outlining their concerns around the Lumina Night Walk in the Mt Coot-tha Botanic Gardens.”

The LNP in Council should be investing in more experiences and attractions that all residents can enjoy – free of charge.”

“Instead, they’re locking the public out of the Botanic Gardens for what could be up to 200 nights a year for at least the next five years.” 

Ms Price said there are also serious concerns about the impact on the natural environment and the risks to the wildlife that call the gardens home. 

“It’s time for Adrian Schrinner and the LNP to stop selling off Brisbane’s beautiful public spaces to the highest bidder and start listening to residents.”

“Brisbane’s public spaces should not be for sale.”

Alternatives to a light show

The Friends of Brisbane Botanic Gardens and Sherwood Arboretum have proposed alternative ways to bring in visitors, including small group wildlife tours led by local experts. They also recommended promoting the Gardens to a global audience involved in gardens and horticultural tourism to boost visitor numbers.

The rise in popularity of astrotourism, supported by Dark Sky Alliance groups globally, was also suggested. The Brisbane Astronomical Society already hosts free stargazing events at Mt Coot-tha Summit, attracting large crowds, with attendance reaching up to 1,500 people.

“They are family friendly events, and the Planetarium could also be made available for evening shows,” Ms Rafferty said.

There has yet to be an opening date announced for the Light Show. It will operate on Friday and Saturday nights throughout the year, with additional shows during the school holidays.

Cover image supplied – images of Botanical Gardens by Jan Bowman


Not so enchanted – the fight to protect Mt Coot-tha Botanical Gardens.