Sculpture, monuments, the Arts Centre Melbourne and the beautiful Royal Botanic Gardens
Walking time 2.5hours
Distance 6 kilometres
To begin, walk south along Saint Kilda Road until you’re opposite the Arts Centre Melbourne, then step down to he left into the peaceful Queen Victoria Gardens. Pause for a royal moment to inspect the Queen Victoria Monument.
Wander along the many pathways in the garden, under the shade of tall trees, past glorious flower displays and across sunny lawns. Discover the sculptures dotted through the park, including The Phoenix, The Pathfinder, The Water Children, Water Nymph and The Genii.
Walk back towards Saint Kilda Road and you’ll find the much loved Floral Clock opposite the National Gallery of Victoria. Look up to the equestrian statue of Queen Victoria’s son Edward VII.
Just over Linlithgow Avenue near Walker Fountain, cross to the ‘Tan’, where Melbourne’s fit and fabulous come to jog. The 4 kilometre track was named after its original bark surface and used by horse riders until the 1940s. If you don’t have a horse, how about a quick run instead? Open-air concerts draw thousands to the Sidney Myer Music Bowl throughout the year. The Victorian Police Memorial is a tribute to the 150 police who have been killed in the line of duty.
The Sir Edward ‘Weary’ Dunlop Statue on Saint Kilda Road is made from bronze, granite and metal from the Burma-Thailand railway. Weary Dunlop was a doctor known for his leadership and humanitarian acts while a prisoner of war in Changi prison.
As you follow the track towards the Shrine of Remembrance, look up and around to enjoy the beauty of hundreds of trees, which were first planted in this parkland when piped water arrived in the late 1860s.
You are now in the ‘Domain’ of Government House, built in the 1870s as Victoria’s Governor’s residence.
Follow the avenue of poplars to an imposing statue of King George V, who allowed King’s Domain as a title for the park when the grounds were enlarged and upgraded in the mid-1930s. King’s Domain is a significant site for many Indigenous people as it includes a burial site of 38 Aboriginal people, marked by the Aboriginal Burial Stone. Moving south, pause for a moment’s reflection at the Shrine of Remembrance which honours Australia’s war dead. Don’t miss the spectacular views of the city from the Shrine. The Visitor Centre features two galleries which host a variety of free exhibitions. Nearby is La Trobe’s Cottage, home of the settlement’s first governor Charles La Trobe.
Turn left at Observatory Gate and join the crowds for a quick snack or a latte at Jardin Tan beside the old Observatory Building and the Gardens Shop.
Enter the lush green world of the Royal Botanic Gardens, one of Victoria’s most popular tourist destinations. Originally a traditional meeting area for the Aboriginal community the gardens were established in 1846 and cover 38 hectares. The gardens are home to an astounding 52,000 plants and 12,000 species from around the globe. The Gardens’ first director Ferdinand von Mueller introduced many in the 1850s and 1860s. Between 1873 and 1909, director William Guilfoyle created the landscape. Today, the Gardens are a haven for strolling garden lovers and families enjoying a relaxed picnic.
Follow the peaceful winding paths, past the National Herbarium, Guilfoyle Memorial, Western Lawn, Oak Lawn 18 and the gardens’ stunning Camellia Collection. Rest for a moment in the Herb Garden to enjoy the calming scents of traditional herbs.
Above Central Lawn, over the treetops, you can see the majestic white tower of Government House.
Relax at the elegant Terrace café and tea rooms and enjoy sweeping views over the Ornamental Lake, which you can also choose to explore by punt.
Stop by the Rose Pavilion, ideal for weddings, music or a seat in the shade. The Pavilion also boasts a lovely view out over Dog Flat and the Ornamental Lake. Then stroll on past the recreated Billabong near Long Island.
Beside the Southern Chinese Collection at H Gate, look for the Garden Directors’ Names on a rock face, and the Aboriginal Heritage Plaque. Then, walk up the bluestone steps, past the Plant Craft Cottage and the Grey Garden below the Temple of the Winds. Designed by Guilfoyle and built in 1901, the Temple is dedicated to Lieutenant Governor Charles La Trobe who selected the gardens’ site and nurtured their early growth.
The high path across Huntingfield Lawn leads to picturesque Lych Gate. Literally meaning body gate, roofed lychgates were originally built in churchyards to shelter coffins awaiting burial. Through here we return to King’s Domain and turn right, taking the steps down to The Grotto. Once a quarry, nowadays it’s an enchanting hidden fern gully.
On the other side, walk briefly uphill to another secret garden. The Pioneer Women’s Memorial Garden was created during Victoria’s centenary in 1934-35 to commemorate the courage and contribution of women pioneers. It was designed as a sanctuary to represent the old world that women pioneers sacrificed when they migrated to Australia. Surrounding the Garden, you’ll find other memorials to women including a eucalypt dedicated to Victoria’s Aboriginal women.
As you walk down to the banks of the Yarra River, cross busy Alexandra Avenue and then walk under Swan Street Bridge to follow the riverside back towards the city. Here, you’ll see walkers, joggers, cyclists and maybe a boat or two. Towards the end of Henley Landing veer uphill to the Rowers War Memorial.
On the final leg of your garden promenade, stroll through the stately Alexandra Gardens. Once river wetlands, the gardens were named in 1904 after Queen Alexandra, the wife of King Edward VII.
Along the Avenue of Elms, pass Riverslide Skate Park to discover the beautiful star bed of flowers – a feature of Alexandra Gardens.
Relaxed and refreshed, return to Federation Square along Princes Bridge at Saint Kilda Road.
There are a number of self-guided walks in this series. These walks were developed by Federation Square and the City of Melbourne. For more information, call the City of Melbourne hotline 03 9658 9658, visit the City of Melbourne1 or go to the Melbourne Visitor Centre at Federation Square.
Federation Square - Shop, Visit, Eat and Drink
Bookings essential, artplay.com.au
Telephone: 03 9664 7900
Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI)
Monday to Sunday 10am to 5pm
Sunday to Wednesday10am to 5pm
Thursday to Saturday 10am to 10pm
No Vacancy Project Space
Tuesday to Saturday 11am to 5pm
Sunday noon to 5pm
The Ian Potter Centre:
Tuesday to Sunday 10am to 5pm
Restaurants, Cafes and Bars
Optic Kitchen & Bar
Monday, Tuesday and Sunday 8.30am to 6pm
Wednesday to Saturday 8.30am to 10pm
Monday to Friday10am to late
Saturday and Sunday 9am to late
Monday to Sunday 7am to late
Monday to Sunday 11.30am to late
Monday to Sunday 10am to late
Monday to Sunday noon to late
Monday to Sunday noon to late
Il Pom Italian
Monday to Sunday 11am to late
In a Rush Espresso
Monday to Sunday7am to 5pm
Riverland Bar and Café
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Time Out Café
Monday to Sunday 8am to late
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Monday to Sunday noon to 3pm and 6pm to late
Sunday, Wednesday and Thursday from 5pm
Friday to Saturday from 4pm
Monday to Tuesday closed
Shops and retail
Best of Victoria
Best of Souvenirs
Open same hours as Melbourne Visitor Centre
Monday to Sunday 10am to 6pm
Monday to Sunday early to late
Melbourne Visitor Centre at Federation Square
Open seven days a week 9am to 6pm (excluding Christmas Day)
Open seven days a week 9am to 5pm (excluding Good Friday and Christmas Day)
Fitzroy Gardens Visitor Centre
This centre provides information services, touch displays, and free Wi-Fi and café facilities. Purchase your Cooks’ Cottage tickets and merchandise, or take part in the free guided garden walk which departs from the centre every Saturday at 10am.
Keep an eye out for the City Ambassadors dressed in their distinctive red uniforms in the central city. Mon to Saturday 10am to 4pm, Sunday noon to 3pm
Melbourne Greeter Service
Discover from a local what locals love about Melbourne. English orientations available seven days per week. Other languages on request. Bookings are essential, phone 03 9658 9658 (Monday to Friday only)
Melbourne Visitor Shuttle
Hop on and off at any of the 13 stops along the route at key city destinations, guided by an informative on-board commentary. The complete trip takes approximately an hour and a half. The bus runs every 30 minutes between 9.30am and 4.30pm daily excluding Christmas Day. For further information, visit the City of Melbourne2.
Best of Victoria Booking Service 03 9928 0000
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