Secret quiet places in the city

From lunch in a pretty park to reading a book in a nook, it’s easy to escape Melbourne’s hustle and bustle. Discover some of the most peaceful spots right in the heart of town, and take a moment to clear your head.

New well-being gardens at Royal Botanic Gardens

Take the time to relax and explore the three new well-being gardens in the Royal Botanic Gardens. There are three new spaces, each one offering a meditative escape from busy urban life. The Bird’s Nest features a suspended swing seat, the Grotto is amongst a heritage listed rock feature, and the Moss Gardens offers an intimate clearing and water feature. Find them hidden in the Gardens’ stunning Fern Gully area.

A woman sitting in a hanging metal seat surrounded by feerns

The Birds Nest, one of three new well-being spaces hiding in Fern Gully in Royal Botanic Gardens.

Queen Victoria Gardens

Part of the huge Domain Parklands, Queen Victoria Gardens is a gorgeous formal green space opposite Arts Centre Melbourne and NGV International. You might know its most famous feature, the floral clock, but there’s so much more. You’ll find lots of statues, from grand monuments to Queen Victoria and King Edward VII to John Olsen’s more playful leaping bronze frog. Sit down in the charming rotunda, watch the ducks on the ornamental pool or stretch out on the lawn. Bliss!

A ornamental lake surrounded by trees, bushes and statues

Queen Victoria Gardens

Kings Domain

Also part of the Domain Parklands, Kings Domain has its own 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. It’s perfect for reading Shakespeare’s sonnets, meeting your true love or doing anything else that’s best enjoyed in serene surrounds.

The Nook at Fed Square

Hidden among Federation Square’s contemporary architecture is a secluded corner of retro comfort set aside for people to take a break. Opposite Ian Potter: NGV Australia‘s Atrium entrance, The Nook is like a mid 20th century loungeroom, with vintage sofa, armchairs, lamps and art. There are also books to read and exchange, and sometimes crafty community groups gathering to create and chat.

Blindside Gallery

Expect the unexpected at this independent contemporary art space among the Nicholas Building’s eclectic collection of small creative businesses. From sculpture, drawing, painting and craft to performance art, video, sound and installations, there’s a new exhibition every week or two. Blindside Gallery is managed by volunteer arts professionals, and also hosts regular talks, workshops and artist forums. Step out of Swanston Street’s crowds and into this quiet place of contemplation.

A view of a church through a window

Blindside Gallery

The Little Library Pop Up

A busy hub of shops, eateries, bars, a cinema and major train station, Melbourne Central surprises with The Little Library Pop Up. Quietly tucked away on the second level, this haven encourages visitors to take a book, leave a book. With any luck you can nab the comfy armchair!

Melbourne Museum’s Forest Gallery

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

A couple standing on a path surrounded by trees and greenery

The Forest Gallery at the Melbourne Museum

Library at The Dock

Have you visited Docklands’ schmick new community hub? Library at The Dock has 200,000 books, plus magazines, newspapers, CDs, DVDs, an art gallery and views that make pausing an occasion. Plus, there’s Wheelly Good Coffee, a social enterprise cafe living up to its name while giving young people a second chance. Snuggle inside the library with a barista brew or take it outside on the deck for nautical and city skyline views.

Mingary, The Quiet Place

What exploration of Melbourne’s quiet places is complete without this peaceful sanctuary for people of all beliefs at St Michael’s Uniting Church? A little garden leads to this former chapel, where natural stone, water and gentle lighting encourage contemplation. Take a seat, and take a moment for yourself.

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 the Queen Victoria Gardens.

Waterfall and greenery

Lake Waterfall in the Queen Victoria Gardens