What better way to spend a day than in Melbourne’s beautiful parks and gardens? To help you get started, here are 12 locations for your next great meander.
Shrine of Remembrance Reserve
Take a moment of quiet reflection at the Shrine of Remembrance Reserve, within the pretty and varied Kings Domain parklands. As well as the Shrine, the wider reserve’s other points of interest include memorial trees, statues and the Eternal Flame. The entrance to the shrine, with beautiful views of the city skyline and surrounding green space, is a favourite photo spot.
In Carlton, just north of the CBD, is the very sporty Princes Park. The centrepiece is one of Melbourne’s second-tier stadiums, Ikon Park, home to the Carlton Football Club. It’s also a key venue for the NAB AFL Women’s Competition in February and March. Want to get active yourself? Take advantage of the public sports field and facilities, children’s playground, or avenues of trees for picturesque power-walks.
Queen Victoria Gardens
Discover the huge floral clock, consisting of more than 7,000 flowering plants, and explore the architect-designed cultural space, MPavilion at Queen Victoria Gardens. For more stunning views, take a stroll through the gardens at the National Gallery of Victoria across the road. It’s also a good place to stop for a bite.
Royal Botanic Gardens
You could spend weeks in the Royal Botanic Gardens and still discover something new every day. Wander winding paths to admire the flora and fauna, take a punt on the lake or wine and dine at The Terrace. Explore some more with our Essential Royal Botanic Gardens experiences guide, then refuel nearby. There are seven foodie gems to discover on Domain Road.
Bordering the north-west of the CBD, Flagstaff Gardens have been reserved as parkland since 1862. Today the stretches of lawn are a favourite lunch spot for local office workers, but a little wander reveals much more. There are eucalypts, Moreton Bay figs and avenues of elm trees, a bowling lawn, rose beds, tennis courts, sculptures and electric barbecues.
The diverse culture of Victoria’s Indigenous peoples is celebrated through a series of artworks at Birrarung Marr. A winding pathway represents the eel (a traditional food source) and five shields represent the five groups of the Kulin Nation. A little further along the river, you’ll discover Deborah Halpern’s two-headed ‘Angel’ sculpture watching your every move. Down at Federation Wharf, treat yourself to bites and beverages at Pilgrim Bar or Riverland.
Tranquil Treasury Gardens is a relaxing spot for people-watching, including politicians popping in and out of the grand State Parliament close by. There are more curious creatures at night, when the resident possums are out and about! After a garden stroll, wander into local history at the Old Treasury Building.
Offering generous open green space in the city centre, Fitzroy Gardens is a favourite with visitors and locals alike. There’s an old world feel, with English elms, flowerbeds, heritage water features and a surprising piece of 18th century England: Cooks’ Cottage. Lately the gardens have added award-winning 21st century eco-friendly features, including stormwater harvesting and even more open space. Pick up a map from the Visitor Centre.
Here’s a park that’s perfect for the whole family. The interactive playground at Docklands Park is sure to be a hit with kids, while the giant moving BlowHole sculpture is strangely mesmerising for all ages. The fun reaches new heights at Ron Barassi Senior Park. There are ‘big kid’ slides, tyre swings, rope bridges and sand-play equipment.
Designed for the Melbourne International Exhibition of 1880, the Royal Exhibition Building and surrounding Carlton Gardens are World Heritage listed. While there, pay a visit to the Melbourne Museum, the tennis courts and the children’s playground. And you can’t miss the Victorian-era Hochgurtel Fountain and circular French Fountain – good Instagram fodder. Once you’ve worked up an appetite, it’s just a five minute walk to Chinatown for dumplings.
Royal Park Nature Playground
Nearby in Parkville’s Royal Park, there’s a new nature playground where kids can go wild – safely! Slides and swings are just the beginning. There’s also a sandpit and water play area, logs, rocks and ropes to climb all over, and a grassy hill for rolling. When the fun becomes too much, the whole family can chill thanks to barbecues, picnic tables and paths among native plants.
For a map and more inspiration, visit One Hour Wanderings – get outdoors.