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How to find Melbourne’s secret gardens on foot

Melburnians talk a lot about secret drinking spots or hidden laneway eats, but when it comes to secret gardens many of us find it hard to pinpoint a favourite. Now is the time to discover heritage-listed gardens, secluded ponds and perfect picnic spots without leaving the city.

Here are five secret spots where you can explore nature on foot. You can even download our free walking map to find your own.

Royal Botanic Gardens

‘The Tan’ is a popular walking circuit where Melburnians from all areas of the city meet to get some fresh air. For something different, why not head into the gardens and find your own special spot? We love the Wellbeing Gardens, comprised of three secluded spaces where you can take time out to meditate. To find them, follow the boardwalk at Fern Gully, and look for the paths leading to the Wellbeing Gardens. After your mindful moment, swing by the Botanical Hotel for a takeaway lunch.

A woman sitting in a hanging metal seat surrounded by feerns

The Birds Nest, one of three new Wellbeing spaces hiding in Fern Gully in Royal Botanic Gardens. Pic from 2019.

Treasury Gardens & Birrarung Marr

There are so many places to explore at one of Melbourne’s most popular meeting places for special events, Birrarung Marr. Start by walking the ‘eel path’, a winding pathway that pays tribute to the eel, a traditional food source. A semicircle of five metal shields represents each of the East Kulin Nation groups. On your way to ArtPlay, visit the Federation Bells. They are a set of 39 brass bells that play more than 100 compositions as part of an evolving schedule. It was named one of the world’s top ten public art pieces by the BBC and Lonely Planet. For a food pit stop – try Belgian Beer Cafe at Fed Square.

Queen Victoria Gardens

Next to ‘The Tan’, you’ll find the pretty Queen Victoria Gardens – most famous for its floral clock. Discover the lake waterfall as you wander towards the Alexandra Avenue side of the park, on the south side of the ornamental lake. Can you find the hidden frog in the pool? Southgate is a short walk up St Kilda Road, where you will find riverside eateries, cute cafes, and the ever-popular Waterslide Bar.

A waterfall in a garden

Lake Waterfall

Princes Park

This beautiful park located in Carlton North is a runner’s paradise. But did you know that there are workout stations located along the popular circuit? From squat benches to pull-up bars, each station explains what part of the body you can target, and how to complete the activity. It’s a full body workout, without the cost of a personal trainer. If you’re planning on a leisurely stroll, you can pick up staples for a picnic at nearby DOC Delicatessen.

Fitzroy Gardens

You may have already discovered the Fairies’ Tree and the model Tudor Village, but have you wandered down the secret stream? Start at KereKere Green café and pick up a few refreshments. Then, starting outside the visitor centre, find the informal walking path next to the central stream which heads north through the gardens. You’ll see pretty ornamental ponds, delicate ferns and rainforest plantings.

Mini model houses in a garden

The model Tudor Village

Metropolitan Melbourne is still under certain restrictions. Please note businesses may close or run out of stock at short notice: check with individual businesses. Make sure that you live within 25kms of the business before ordering for takeaway or click and collect. Please, be smart, be safe and follow directions from the Victorian Government.