Melbourne’s secret gardens and green spaces

Take a break in an indoor forest or secluded nook in the city’s parks. Then relax in an unexpected urban wilderness or the CBD’s biggest beer garden.

Royal Botanic Gardens’ new Wellbeing Gardens

The Royal Botanic Gardens’ fern gully recently became, even more, inviting with the introduction of three special meditative spaces. The highlight of the mini Wellbeing Garden is the Bird’s Nest, where you can contemplate nature in a suspended swing chair. There’s also the sheltered Grotto, and a Japanese-inspired Moss Garden where stone seats are placed around a central ‘mother stone’ fountain.

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.

Melbourne Museum’s Forest Gallery

Take a walk through Victoria’s mountain landscape, but on the CBD’s northern border, at Melbourne Museum. The Forest Gallery is a permanent living exhibition featuring eucalyptus trees, lush ferns, native birds, even aquatic critters in the recreated creek. Breathe in the beautiful scents of the bush, listen to the birdsong and feast your eyes on all that life.

Trin Warren Tam-boore

Did you know there are wetlands in the city? In Royal Park’s north-west corner, Trin Warren Tam-boore means ‘bellbird waterhole’, and is home to many species of native feathered friends such as ibis and kookaburras. Lots of insects and reptiles too, which you can find out about on the informative signs along the 90-minute walking trail running through this urban wetland.

Lake Waterfall, Queen Victoria Gardens

Mere minutes from the main road, water cascades some three metres over this serene stone waterfall scene. Find the Lake Waterfall on the south side of the ornamental lake in Queen Victoria Gardens.
Waterfall and greenery

Lake Waterfall in the Queen Victoria Gardens

Kings Domain’s Elizabethan garden

Part of the Domain Parklands, Kings Domain has a secret, sunken garden. Its centrepiece is a cross-shaped pond full of water lilies, which leads to a blue-tiled, ivy-draped grotto sheltering a water-nymph statue. Created in 1934, the Pioneer Women’s Memorial Garden was inspired by the Elizabethan era’s symmetrical garden designs. So it’s perfect for reading Shakespeare’s sonnets, meeting your true love or doing anything else that’s best enjoyed in serene seclusion.

Fitzroy Gardens’ stream

This quiet, green oasis on the edge of the CBD beckons postcode 3000 residents and workers outside for a lunchtime stroll. From shoppers to tourists, everyone loves the Fitzroy Gardens‘ formal avenues of English elm trees, and gracious sculptures and fountains. Don’t miss the little stream running through the park’s southern section though. It’s surrounded by a semi-wilderness featuring ferns and rainforest plantings, and also forms an ornamental pond with a sweet statue of a boy on a turtle.

Queen Victoria Gardens’ little pond

In this lovely formal greenspace, it’s hard to believe you’re only a few minutes walk from bustling Flinders Street Station. You’ve probably seen Queen Victoria Gardens‘ most famous feature, the big floral clock, but have you found the smaller of its two ornamental ponds? John Olsen’s playful bronze frog statue permanently leaps out of it, while a petite waterfall splish-splahses away. You might also spot some contented ducks in this secluded urban oasis.

A pond surrounded by greenery in a garden

One of the ponds at Queen Victoria Gardens

Trunk’s beer garden

If you don’t have a membership or an invitation to The Melbourne Club and its rare walled garden, try the city’s biggest beer garden. It’s not exactly a secret, but Trunk‘s garden is something to be seen. Settle in for beers and bites among the vines, shrubs, and a 150-year-old coral tree that gives this casual restaurant and bar its name.

Westgate Park

If you’ve ever crossed the Westgate Bridge, you’ve probably caught a glimpse of Westgate Park below. What used to be a neglected industrial area on the eastern bank of the Yarra, just before the river spills into Port Phillip Bay, is now home to plants and plenty of natives that attract waterbirds like spoonbills, pelicans and swans. Nab a barbecue and see how many species you can spot against the city skyline. During warm, dry spells the park’s natural algae turn the lake bright pink!

Looking ahead …

In 2020, the top of 1 Treasury Place will be transformed into a demonstration rooftop garden to get everyone thinking green and breathing deeply. Melbourne Skyfarm, a 2000-square-metre urban rooftop farm, will also open in Docklands next year. There’s no completion date yet, but the Green Spine development’s two twisting towers with rooftop and vertical gardens is also slated for Southbank.