With towering autumn trees, vintage cottages and an enormous amount of green, open space, Fitzroy Gardens is a favourite with visitors and locals alike. Here’s some highlights to explore on your next visit.
1. Visitor Centre
Fitzroy Gardens Visitor Centre provides information on Melbourne and the Fitzroy Gardens and is the place to buy your tickets to Cooks’ Cottage.
2. Glasshouses and Propagator’s Cottage
Two 1920s glasshouses are still used to grow plants for the Conservatory. They are visible from the entrance to the visitor centre. The lime whitewash on the glass is to reduce light and heat levels in summer. The Propagator’s Cottage, a private residence, can be seen from the path near the Conservatory. There is no public entry to these facilities.
The Conservatory hosts five ornamental horticultural displays throughout the year. It is free to enter and is open daily from 9am to 5pm.
4. Cooks’ Cottage
Take a step back in time at Cooks’ Cottage, located in the beautiful heritage-listed Fitzroy Gardens. Originally located in Yorkshire, England, and built in 1755 by the parents of Captain James Cook, the cottage was brought to Melbourne in 1934 and rebuilt. Tickets to Cooks’ Cottage are available at the visitor centre.
5. Scarred Tree
Now a preserved tree stump, bark from this river red gum tree was removed by Aboriginal people to make something such as a canoe, shield or container.
6. Stream and fern gully
Starting outside the visitor centre, an informal walking path adjacent to the central stream heads north through the gardens, passing ornamental ponds, ferns and rainforest planting.
7. Sinclair’s Cottage
This cottage was built in 1866 for Fitzroy Gardens’ head gardener, James Sinclair. It is now used as an administrative centre and is not open to the public, but definitely worth viewing from the outside.
8. Fairies’ Tree
Sculpted by Ola Cohn between 1931 and 1934, the Fairies’ Tree is beloved by generations of children. The carving features Australian animals, birds and bush spirits.
9. Model Tudor Village
The model village was a gift to the people of Melbourne in 1947 from the citizens of Lambeth, England, in appreciation of food parcels sent during WWII. Please don’t enter the enclosure as the models are very fragile.
10. Hotham Walk
This east-west path is at the heart of the gardens. East of the central bridge, the path is lined by colourful flowering borders and framed by deodar cedars – a much-loved feature of the gardens.
11. Elm tree avenues
Avenues of mature English elms line the major paths throughout the gardens, providing a cathedral-like lighting effect.
12. The Mound and Pond
The Mound, a high point in the gardens, and the adjacent pond were created in 1891 under the leadership of garden curator John Guilfoyle. The palms, ferns and water create a cool oasis on a hot day.
13. Dolphin Fountain
Bridal parties and photographers are commonly seen in this part of the gardens. The fountain was created by sculptor June Arnold in 1982. Featuring a variety of marine creatures, the design was influenced by theories of childhood development and education.
14. Grey Street Walk
This lush walk features Cordylines, palms and perennial exotic plants which require little water. Two vases on pillars are reminders of the 19th century fashion for classical statuary. Fans of the Australian TV series Offspring may recognise some set locations here.
15. Grey Street Fountain
This is one of the original five fountains installed in the gardens in the 1860s. The three tiers of vases on a rock pedestal is a classic 19th century garden ornament.
16. The old band pavilion (Bandstand)
Constructed in the 1860s, the bandstand was originally used for military recitals and sacred music performances. Today it is a popular venue for weddings and family gatherings.
Created in 1873, the Rotunda is another example of the sculptural elements popular in 19th century gardens.
18. River God Fountain
At the northern end of the gardens is Melbourne’s oldest surviving public artwork. This fountain was created in 1862 by leading sculptor Charles Summers.