Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne

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Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria - Melbourne Gardens
Melb botanical gardens03.jpg
A section of the Fern Gully in Melbourne Gardens
Type Public Park
Location Melbourne, Australia
Area 38 hectares
Opened 1846
Operated by Board of the Royal Botanic Gardens
Visitors 1 million (approx. per year)
Status Open (7:30–9 am to sunset)
Paths Sealed
Terrain Low undulating hills
Water Yarra River, Ornamental Lake, Nymphaea Lake
Vegetation Australian Native, Lawns, Non-native traditional gardens
Connecting transport Train, Tram, Bus, Car
Landmarks Yarra River, Ornamental Lake, National Herbarium
Facilities Information centre, Gift shop, Toilets, Barbecues, Shelter, Cafe and Tea rooms

The Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria at Melbourne Gardens are internationally renowned botanical gardens located near the centre of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, on the south bank of the Yarra River. They are 38 hectares (94 acres) of landscaped gardens consisting of a mix of native and exotic vegetation including over 10,000 individual species.

The Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria have a second division in the outer Melbourne suburb of Cranbourne, some 45 km south-east of the city. The 363 hectare (897 acres) Royal Botanic Gardens, Cranbourne have a focus solely on Australian native plants, and feature an award-winning special section called the Australian Garden, which was opened in May 2006.

Melbourne Gardens are adjacent to a larger group of parklands directly south-east of the city, between St. Kilda Road and the Yarra River known as the Domain Parklands, which includes;

Governance and history[edit]

The gardens are governed under the Royal Botanic Gardens Act 1991 by the Royal Botanic Gardens Board, who are responsible to the Minister for Environment.

In 1846 Charles La Trobe selected the site for the Royal Botanic Gardens from marshland and swamp.

In 1857 the first director was Ferdinand von Mueller, who created the National Herbarium of Victoria and brought in many plants.

In 1873 William Guilfoyle became Director and changed the style of the Gardens to something more like the picturesque gardens that were around at that time. He added tropical and temperate plants.

In 1877 Sir Edmund Barton, Australia's first Prime Minister and Jane Ross were married at Melbourne Gardens.

In 1924 a shooting massacre occurred at the Gardens resulting in the death of four people.[1][2]

In June 2015 the Gardens brought together the elements of the organisation under the name Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria, incorporating Melbourne Gardens, Cranbourne Gardens, the National Herbarium of Victoria and the Australian Research Centre for Urban Ecology (ARCUE) [3]


Autumn at the gardens.

Living collections at Melbourne Gardens include Australian Forest Walk, California Garden, Cacti and Succulents, Camellia Collection, Cycad Collection, Eucalypts, Fern Gully, Grey Garden, Herb Garden, Long Island, New Caledonia Collection, New Zealand Collection, Oak Lawn, Perennial Border, Roses, Southern China Collection, Tropical Display-Glasshouse, Viburnum Collection and Water Conservation Garden.

These plant groups have been chosen for their value, rarity, diversity and interest.


The gardens include a mixture of native and non-native vegetation which invariably hosts a diverse range of both native and non-native fauna. The gardens host over 10,000 floral species, the majority being non-native species. The gardens were the origin from which many introduced species spread throughout south-eastern Australia as seeds were traded between early European botanists in the mid-19th century, studying the Australian flora.

Native vegetation[edit]

From the gardens establishment in 1846, much of the native vegetation was removed as botanists such as Baron Von Mueller planted a range of species from around the world. While initially much of the native wetlands and swamplands in the gardens were left, around the turn of the 20th century these were re-landscaped to create the Ornamental Lake. Despite this however, there are some large eucalypts remaining including the prominent Separation Tree, a 300-year-old River Red Gum, under which Victoria was declared a separate colony. In August 2010 the Separation Tree was attacked by vandals and it is not clear if it will survive.[4] The Royal Botanic Gardens, Cranbourne focus solely on Australian native plants.

Non-native traditional gardens[edit]

Melbourne Gardens were initially intended to be a horticultural exhibition for the public to enjoy, many seeds were traded between early European botanists such as Arthur and Von Mueller, who planted non-native species. The Queen and her grandfather, Dame Nellie Melba and Paderewski contributed plantings on occasions throughout the gardens history. Much of the gardens have been separated into themed sections such as:

  • Herb Garden
  • Arid Garden
  • Fern Gully
  • Bulbs
  • Rose Garden


The gardens host areas of non-native tough-wearing lawns of various sizes that are carefully maintained;

  • Huntingford Lawn
  • Hopetoun Lawn
  • Northern Lawn
  • Tennyson Lawn
  • Princes Lawn
  • Central Lawn
  • Western Lawn
  • Eastern Lawn
  • Oak Lawn
  • Southern Lawn
  • Australian Lawn

Plant science[edit]

Since its earliest days, the Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria is involved in plant research and identification. This is done primarily through the National Herbarium of Victoria, which is based at the Gardens. The Herbarium is also home to the State Botanical Collection, which includes over 1.2 million dried plant specimens, and an extensive collection of books, journals and artworks. Research findings are published in the journal Mulleria, which is a scientific representation of the work done in the Gardens in any one year.

Education and visitor information[edit]

Opening hours

Melbourne Gardens is open every day of the year at 7.30am and close at dusk.

Melbourne Gardens Visitor Centre is open seven days a week:

  • Weekdays 9.00am – 5.00pm
  • Weekends 9.30am – 5.00pm

Transport Melbourne Gardens is a 15-minute walk or 5-minute tram ride from Flinders Street Station to the Domain Road Interchange on tram routes 3, 5, 8, 16, 64, 67. Street parking is available for 2- to 4-hour periods.

The Ian Potter Foundation Children's Garden[edit]

The 5,000 square metre Ian Potter Foundation Children's Garden is designed as a discovery area for children of all ages and abilities. The Ian Potter Children's Garden is based in South Yarra, off the main site. This area is closed for two months of the year from the end of the Victorian July school holidays for rest and maintenance.[5]

The Tan[edit]

Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria: The National Herbarium of Victoria - founded in 1853

The Tan Track, more usually called The Tan, is a track parallel to the perimeter fence of the Botanic Gardens. Originally a tanbark horse riding track for Melbourne's well-heeled, The Tan has been extended to form a 3.84-km running circuit with a surface of tan-coloured stone aggregate.

The Tan is now one of Melbourne's most frequented locations for joggers. Locals, visitors and famous alike now share the space as its international reputation has grown. The Tan is often used in training by professional athletes, such as AFL footballers, particularly during pre-season time-trials. Running greats such as Hicham El Guerrouj, Steve Ovett, Cathy Freeman, and Sonia O'Sullivan have all rubbed shoulders with the general public on The Tan.

The quickest lap of the Tan has been held by such notable Australian runners as Robert de Castella and Steve Moneghetti (10:41, 2003). The current record is 10 minutes and 12 seconds, run by Craig Mottram in 2004. On 21 December 2006, Craig Mottram unofficially broke his personal best time around the tan, running a scorching 10 minutes and 8 seconds while running with the Richmond Football Club during their pre-season training. He gave the footballers a two-and-a-half minute head start and still managed to beat them comprehensively.[6]

The inaugural Go the Tan run was held in early February 2006, and provides the opportunity for participants to run, jog or walk around The Tan and receive an official time.[7]

The Corporate Cup, a team based lunchtime running program has been held at the Tan Track for over thirty years. The Corporate Cup provides team and individual statistical analysis of running times over an 8-week program.[8]

Challenges for Melbourne Gardens[edit]

Large numbers of eels in a lake at the Melbourne Gardens

Ongoing issues for Melbourne Gardens have included unwanted plants and challenging animal life.

Beginning in 2001, Melbourne Gardens had a significant challenge managing a colony of endangered indigenous grey-headed flying foxes. Like all flying fox colonies it was noisy and occasionally emitted a musty odour that was thought to detract from the garden's amenity.

Eventually the colony was relocated to bushland at Yarra Bend Park in Kew. The bats are important pollinators and seed dispersers of 100 species of native trees and plants including endangered rainforest and palm species.

In regard to weeds (always a problem with a botanic gardens of this size) the Botanic Gardens developed a strategic plan in 2004 to minimise weed infestations by educating the public and management, and to help conserve the indigenous and other species.

See also[edit]



  1. ^ Massacre at the Botanical Gardens Accessed 24 September 2007
  2. ^ "The Botanic Garden’s Mass Murderer". Odd Australian History of the Berwick/Pakenham region. Retrieved 19 November 2012. 
  3. ^ "Our Story Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria". Retrieved 24 April 2017. 
  4. ^ Police probe 'sickening' attack on historic tree - ABC News, accessed 2 September 2010
  5. ^ "The Ian Potter Foundation Children's Garden". Royal Botanic Gardens Official Website. Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne. n.d. Retrieved 2008-07-30. 
  6. ^ Stevens, Michael (2006-12-22). "Mottram gives Tigers a tanning". Herald Sun. Herald and Weekly Times. Retrieved 2008-07-30. 
  7. ^ "2013 Go The Tan, 15-16 February". Start to Finish Event Management. Retrieved 17 November 2012. 
  8. ^ "Weightman Announced as Corporate Cup Ambassador". Lisa Weightman. 17 August 2012. Retrieved 19 November 2012. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 37°50′00″S 144°58′49″E / 37.83340°S 144.98033°E / -37.83340; 144.98033