Nestled among the bustling Melbourne CBD is a haven of greenery and tranquillity, boasting an abundance of marvellous gardens and green spaces that enchant locals and visitors alike.
As the beating heart of Australia’s cultural capital, Melbourne’s CBD has masterfully embraced the harmonious coexistence of nature and urbanity, making it a paradise for nature enthusiasts and a soothing retreat for anyone seeking solace amidst the city’s dynamic rhythm.
Looking for lush greenery to immerse yourself in around the city? Here are 5 gardens you have to visit in and around Melbourne’s CBD:
Located 400m from West Side Place, Flagstaff Gardens, north of La Trobe Street, spans 7.2 hectares and has proven popular with office workers, locals and tourists alike for decades. In fact, the gardens were established in 1862, making them the oldest in the city.
Providing green relief among the buildings that call the CBD home, Flagstaff Gardens offer expansive lawns, mature tree-filled gardens, avenues of elm trees, flower beds and a high vantage point, upon which visitors can gaze across the city.
Beyond the gardens themselves, there are also various courts, including tennis and netball, a playground, public toilet, barbecues, and a bowling green, making it the perfect space for entertainment and relaxation both during the week and on weekends.
Royal Botanic Gardens
Melbourne’s Royal Botanic Gardens is the green beating heart of the city and due to its ease of access, vast expanse, and picturesque nature, is one of the city’s most visited landmarks each year.
Extending over 38 hectares and playing home to a collection of more than 8,500 species of plants from around the world, means there’s an abundance of natural beauty to take in. Wildlife also abounds, with black swans, cockatoos, kookaburras and many more species frequenting the area.
Children will love the open spaces upon which they can play and explore, while friends and families can enjoy a picnic or outdoor gathering. And for those seeking solitude, there’s ample space in which to relax with a book or simply watch the world pass by.
If you’re looking for something to do on a summer’s eve, the gardens come to life under the guise of darkness, thanks to outdoor cinema screenings, theatre performances and exhibitions.
For those keen on outdoor exercise, you can’t go past Melbourne’s iconic ‘Tan Track’. The 3.827km track makes itself known around the Botanic Gardens and is popular with walkers, joggers, and runners of all abilities. It’s also the perfect walking route for four-legged friends.
What Parliament Gardens lacks in size; it certainly makes up for in charm.
Offering views of Parliament House, Eastern Hill and St Patrick’s Cathedral, the triangular green space offers lush lawns, fountains, and statues from which to escape the hustle and bustle of the abounding city.
A prominent feature of the gardens is a bronze memorial to Pastor Sir Douglas Nicholls and Lady Gladys Nicholls, two of Australia’s most prominent Indigenous leaders and traditional owners. The Coles Fountain also offers visitors respite from rising temperatures during the height of summer.
Recognised as a World Heritage Site in 2004, a visit to Carlton Gardens is a must-do for locals and visitors to Melbourne. Located north of the CBD, the 26-hectare site plays home to the Royal Exhibition Building, the Melbourne Museum and Imax Cinema, a diverse selection of natural and landscaped features, as well as several permanent attractions and cultural events.
Victorian landscape design is a key feature of the gardens, with expansive lawns and myriad Australian and European tree plantings on full show. English oaks, White Poplar, plane trees, elms, conifers, and cedars are among the more common varieties here, and when combined with ornamental lakes, fountains and iconic buildings, makes for a lovely space to immerse yourself in.
For those with kids, the Carlton Gardens playgrounds should not be missed. The thoughtful design of the main play structure includes layers of walls, musical walkways, slides, and tunnels, whereas the second playground is more reminiscent of traditional styles, with slides, monkey bars, a flying fox and more.
If the combination of greenery and water is your idea of outdoor bliss, Alexandra Gardens has you covered. Boasting five hectares of lush landscape, visitors can often be found admiring the idyllic views of the scenic Yarra River from these gardens. Most sections are bounded by the Yarra River; thus, parking is limited, so your best option is to find a spot along St Kilda Road and surrounding streets.
Part of the Domain Parklands and nestled on the south bank of the Yarra River, the gardens’ key feature is the historic rowing boathouses that line the river. In fact, many visitors to the park make the trek just to vie the boathouses in their century-old glory.
The gardens’ riverside palms, ornamental shrubs, rockeries and tree-lined avenues and lawns make this the ideal setting for a leisurely stroll or to take in one of the major events that take place in the area throughout the year.