Melbourne Parks and Gardens
Melbourne is gifted with leafy parks and gardens. Vast and verdant with elegant floral displays, cooling fountains and theatrical statues and structures, they are all within walking distance or a short drive of the city and cost nothing to visit. It is, for sure, thanks to them that Melbourne has earned the title of one of the world's ‘most liveable cities’.
Here are some of the most remarkable city’s parks and gardens.
Certainly the finest botanic gardens in Australia and arguably among the finest in the world, The Royal Botanic Gardens are a must see, right beside the Yarra River. The river once ran right through the gardens; the lakes are the remains of its curves, cut off when the river was straightened to lessen the annual flood damage.
The gardens are home to over 12,000 different species of plants and are a natural sanctuary for native wildlife. Features of the gardens include the Ornamental Lake, the National Herbarium of Victoria, Old Melbourne Observatory, the Australian Rainforest Walk and the Water Conservation Garden.
The mild climate of Melbourne, combined with a long history of plant collection from around the world, has allowed an immense range of plants from across Australia and the world to be brought together. Plants are displayed in major groupings, or "collections" including Cacti & Succulents, Californian Collection, Camellia Collection, Species rose, Tropical Display Glasshouse, Viburnum Collection, and New Zealand Collection.
The Royal Botanic Gardens also offer plenty of activities: such as workshops, seminar, walks and tours. And if you visit Melbourne during summer, don’t miss the Moonlight Cinema, an outdoor cinema with twilight screenings of classic and cult movies.
|The Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne has wheelchair access and disabled toilet facilities. Wheelchairs are available for hire. A current and valid driver's licence or passport and a small deposit will be required.|
|Where:||Anderson Street, Alexandra and Birdwood avenues - South Yarra.|
|Phone:||03 5990 2200|
|Email:||The Royal Botanic Gardens|
Kings Domain and Alexandra Park feature mature trees set in extensive lawns, a fern gully and flower borders along the Government House boundary. The intriguing fern gully is nearly hidden from view and was planted in the 1930s. The spot was originally an old quarry and is now a steeply sloping, landscaped rockery featuring a waterfall and a winding ‘crazy paved’ path around a picturesque pond.
Built features include: Sidney Myer Music Bowl; Governor La Trobe's Cottage; King George V statue; Weary Dunlop memorial; Grotto (fern gully); Stapley Pavilion; Tilly Aston bell; Pioneer Women's garden; Memorials and commemorative statutory, Walker fountain, and painted poles and re-burial stone, marking the site of Aboriginal remains.
The domain is circled by ‘the tan’, a 4 km path that was once a horse exercising track and now is a favourite with city joggers.
The Shrine of Remembrance is Victoria’s memorial to the service and sacrifice of its men and women in times of conflict. Behind the Shrine is one of the city’s most significant trees: a solitary Calabrian Pine germinated from a seed by a young returned soldier who fought at Lone Pine in Gallipoli during WWI.
The Shrine crowns an elevated site and is framed by formal tree planting, spacious lawns, and forecourt areas. Mature commemorative trees in extensive lawns feature on the surrounding slopes. Other built features include commemorative sculptures and the McPherson Robertson fountain.
|Where:||Birdwood Avenue, Melbourne|
The Queen Victoria Gardens are just a short walk from the CBD and the Art precinct. They are seen as a triangle of paradise in the middle of the busy city, and are a favourite for wedding photographs.
Beautifully 19th century ornamental landscaped gardens feature trees and flowerbeds set in manicured lawns, roses and flowering shrubs. Paths are flanked with beds of colourful annuals, and the larger pond is filled with waterlilies. For magnificent views to the city, walk to the pathway between the lake and Rose Garden. Here, the park benches will encourage you to stop and relax.
Stop by the floral clock. This famous decorative timepiece is composed of a staggering 7000 flowering and bedding plants, which are changed twice yearly. It was presented from a group of Swiss watchmakers as a gift to the city in 1966.
Other highlights include ornamental ponds, monuments to Queen Victoria and King Edward VII, the Janet Lady Clarke rotunda, and various sculptures.
|Where:||St Kilda Road, Melbourne|
Alexandra Gardens features ornamental gardens with palms and shrub borders, extensive lawns with mature trees lining paths and roadways.
This is also where you can watch rowing boathouses, hire bicycle and have lunch on barbecues.
|Where:||30 Alexandra Avenue|
Whether you feel like walking or cycling through grassland and woodland, surveying the city skyline from expansive hilltops, kite flying by day or star gazing by night, you will find much to enjoy in Royal Park. The large open spaces make it hard to believe you are in a buzzing city, but the excellent facilities mean it is a popular place for recreation and relaxation.
Royal Park contains a number of sports ovals and open spaces, large netball and hockey stadiums, a public golf course and the Melbourne Zoo. In the corner closest to Melbourne University is a garden of Australian native plants, and a little further north is a memorial cairn that marks the spot from which the Burke and Willis Expedition set off in 1860 on its fateful crossing of the interior.
Other highlights of the park are the Walmsley House – one of the oldest buildings in Victoria, transported from England circa 1856; and Urban Camp – remnant of an army base from World War II.
|Where:||Access via Gatehouse Street, Flemington Road and Royal Parade - City|
Yarra Bend Park is beautifully designed along the curve of the Yarra River, offering over 16 km of river frontage. The landscape varies from steep, wild river escarpments to open woodlands, playing fields and golf courses. From the higher areas, you can enjoy superb views of the city and the Dandenongs.
The park is joyfully used for boating, canoeing, team sports, golf, fishing, orienteering and picnicking. Open spaces and sporting fields welcome organised and informal sports including cricket, football, soccer and bocce. Many walking tracks covering every level of fitness are also available.
Yarra Bend Park contains some of the last stands of original bushland in inner Melbourne, with approximately half of the park covered by indigenous vegetation. It contains seven of the state’s threatened flora species, and one endangered.
Here, you can usually see Rainbow Lorikeet, Red-rumped Parrot and on occasionally, Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo. You can also try to spot echidnas, native water rats and possums. If you want to view flying-fox colonies stroll along the Yarra Boulevard or around the Bellbird Picnic Area.
|Where:||Access via Johnston Street, and Heidelberg Road, Clifton Hill or Yarra Boulevard, Kew.|
The Carlton Gardens are one of Melbourne’s most stunning icons. Located on the north-eastern edge of the CBD, the gardens are an outstanding example of Victorian era landscape design with sweeping lawns and varied European and Australian tree plantings. Here you will stroll amongst ornamental lakes, beautiful flower beds, sculptural fountains and a network of tree lines path.
But the pinnacle of the gardens is the historic Royal Exhibition Building, a wonder of the southern hemisphere built for the Great Exhibition in 1880. Melbourne's Carlton Gardens and the Royal Exhibition Building have received international acclaim being inscribed on the prestigious World Heritage List in 2004. According to the World Heritage listing the Royal Exhibition Buildings and Carlton Gardens are "of historical, architectural, aesthetic, social and scientific (botanical) significance to the State of Victoria."
The rectangular open parkland also contains the Melbourne Museum, IMAX Cinema, tennis courts and an award winning children's playground.
|Where:||Access via Carlton Street, Nicholson Street, or Rathdowne Street - Carlton.|
The Treasury Gardens are a popular lunchtime and barbecue spot, containing an ornamental pond with a monument to President John F. Kennedy. Stroll around and explore the extensive pathway system that runs through the park and connects with Fitzroy Gardens.
The leafy Fitzroy Gardens divide the city centre from East Melbourne. Governor La Trobe’s nephew designed the original layout in 1857, which featured paths in the form of the Union Jack. With their stately avenues lined with English elms, these gardens are popular spot for wedding photographers.
The Conservatory, built in 1930, displays various and changing flower collections throughout the year. Valued for their historic, aesthetic, architectural, and horticultural significance, the gardens were classified by the National Trust in 1974 and placed on the Victorian Heritage Register in 1999.
Don’t forget to check out Cooks’ Cottage - the home of the parents of Captain James Cook; a carved ‘Fairies’ Tree’, a Model Tudor Village, an old bandstand rotunda and the "Temple of the Winds" Rotunda.
And at dusk, see the brushtail possums emerge from the trees to feed.
|Where:||Access from Lansdowne Street, Clarendon Street, and Wellington Parade, with best access from the crossover at the intersection of Lansdowne Street and Wellington Parade - City|
Albert Park is situated approximately 3 km south from the Melbourne CBD. It was named in 1894 in honour of Queen Victoria's devoted consort, Prince Albert. Over the ensuing years the park was used as a tip, as a camp for the armed services, for scenic drives and for many forms of recreation. Today Albert Park is a large sporting and recreational park that caters for formal and informal recreation.
The park is also the focus for many of Victoria's spectacular events, and welcomes the Australian Grand Prix each year. Here you can enjoy a barbecue or picnic, hire a boat for fun, walk, cycle, or jog on the 5km track around the lake and take beautiful photos using the city skyline as a backdrop.
Albert Park is also an important sanctuary for wildlife and vegetation. Over 100 bird species have been recorded in the park including wetland species such as the Cattle Egret, Common Tern, Great Egret, and Pelicans. Black Swans, and Pacific Black Ducks are common, both feeding and breeding in the park. Native mammals, reptiles and amphibians in the park include Common Bent-wing Bats, Common Brushtail Possums, Glossy Grass Skinks and Common Froglets.
|Where:||Access via Albert Road, Queens Road, and Fitzroy Street - Port Phillip.|
The Royal Botanic Gardens Cranbourne, an offshoot of the Royal Botanical Gardens Melbourne, is one of Victoria’s most precious areas of native bushland and offers nature-lovers the chance to explore 363 hectares of untouched heathlands, wetlands and woodlands.
The adventure starts when you pull up, not in the car park, but in the ‘garden with parks in it’, marked out by garden beds and shaped by paperbark trees.
These expansive natural gardens are home to thriving bird and animal life, including several rare and endangered species. The Australian Garden, a recent development, is a place where visitors can immerse themselves in Australian flora, landscapes, art and architecture. This amazing new garden features a gallery of exhibition gardens, an awe-inspiring Red Sand Garden, a Rockpool Waterway, sculpture and displays.
|Where:||Cnr Ballarto Road and Botanic Drive Cranbourne (off South Gippsland Highway)|
|Phone:||03 5990 2200|
|Website:||The Royal Botanic Gardens|
With a name originating from the language of the Wurundjeri people, who inhabited the area originally, Birrarung Marr is the newest major park in Melbourne.
Opened in 2002, the park provides a link between the CBD and Melbourne's main sporting areas. Take a walk over William Barak pedestrian bridge to arrive at the MCG, or follow the series of informative signs along the banks of the Yarra to learn more about the river's history.
Hundreds of native plants and trees line the park, with trees before the parks construction retained and placed in Speakers Corner, a spot known for demonstartions and rallies throughout the years.
|Where:||Batman Avenue, Melbourne|