Summer may be over, but this time of year is often perfect for getting outdoors. Take a stroll among colourful autumn leaves, golden sunshine and cool, sometimes enchantingly misty air in Melbourne.
Queen Victoria Gardens
Part of the huge Domain Parklands, the Queen Victoria Gardens are a gorgeous formal greenspace opposite Arts Centre Melbourne and NGV International. You might know its most famous feature, the floral clock, but there’s so much more to see.
There are lots of statues, from grand monuments to Queen Victoria and King Edward VII to John Olsen’s more playful leaping bronze frog. Take a seat in the charming rotunda, watch the ducks on the ornamental pool, and enjoy the serenity.
This quiet, green oasis on the very edge of the CBD beckons local residents and workers outside for a lunchtime ramble. From shoppers to tourists, everyone loves the avenues of English elm trees, and the fern gully with its stream and ornamental ponds. Other highlights include historic Cooks’ Cottage. For more good excuses to visit, see our guide to exploring Fitzroy Gardens.
You’ve probably walked through Kings Domain, because it’s home to the Sidney Myer Music Bowl and the majestic Shrine of Remembrance. But have you ambled along the avenue of poplar trees, which turn gold in autumn? Or admired all the statues, from royalty to a water nymph, and the 1839 La Trobe’s cottage? Discovered the sacred Indigenous site, marked by the Aboriginal Burial Stone, and the monument to war hero Weary Dunlop? Now’s the time to get better acquainted with this gently undulating park between the Royal Botanic Gardens and St Kilda Road.
Royal Botanic Gardens
One of Australia’s most beautiful and botanically rich spaces, the Royal Botanic Gardens is made for wanderers, explorers and nature lovers. It’s full of deciduous trees now bright with autumn colour, and fallen leaves for kicking and jumping around in. Stroll around the ornamental lake for different views of autumn foliage (our tip: pause at Hopetoun Lawn!). Get up close to the Oak Lawn’s blazing trees. Join a Free Guided Walk, led by knowledgeable guides who reveal the gardens’ sometimes hidden treasures. Whatever you do, find time to enjoy this jewel in Melbourne’s crown.
Docklands Harbourside Art Trail
Sure, you’ve seen that cow-up-a-tree sculpture, but did you know there are dozens of other public artworks dotted around Docklands? Discover them all on the Docklands Harbourside Art Trail with a map from the Melbourne Visitor Hub at Town Hall. Or get the free app (available for iPhone and Android) and hear several artists, including Sally Smart and RONE, provide commentary about their work, The trail is divided into three themed 2.5km sections: ‘real and unreal’, ‘the dynamic earth’, and ‘you, us and them’.
Carlton Gardens to Lygon Street
Heading to the Royal Exhibition Building for a festival or expo, or a tour of its UNESCO Heritage-listed magnificence? Got a date with science and history at Melbourne Museum? Either way, you’re headed to Carlton Gardens. It’s also home to a fab children’s playground at the north end, and 19th century formal gardens in the south. Wander among mature European trees and ostentatious Victorian-era fountains, then watch ducks gliding across ornamental lakes. From there it’s an easy stroll to Little Italy’s heart-warming charm, coffee and nosh. Go straight to the best with our pasta lover’s guide to Lygon Street!
If you’ve worked through this list, head to What’s On Melbourne to find out more about other beautiful parks and gardens.