Melbourne’s Best Parks and Gardens
Melbourne is Australia’s second largest city and has long stood as the country’s cultural hub. With a beautiful mix of wildlife, nature, and cityscape, it’s the perfect place to experience a bit of the outside in the morning or afternoon and then head to a nice restaurant in the evening.
One of the best ways to experience the outdoors is in one of the city’s many gardens; either those located in the city, or those located nearby. Sure, they’ve been designed to look great, but there’s nothing quite like walking through the best parks and gardens in Melbourne and taking in some manmade beauty.
As part of our 'Things to do in Melbourne' series, eSkip hunted down the best gardens in and around Melbourne, along with the best times to visit and what you’ll find. Don’t forget to let us know in the comments if you have more details or want to share your expert local knowledge. Here’s our list of the best gardens in and around Melbourne, along with the best times to visit and what you’ll find.
Best Time to Visit Melbourne's Gardens
Spring is also ok, especially if you’re looking to see some of the plants coming to life after a long winter of being in hiding. The greens start to seep back into the landscape and colour comes back. Spring is also pretty good for catching one of Melbourne’s best festivals, the Melbourne Festival.
Winter, on the other hand, probably isn’t your best bet. Whilst the gardens are still relatively beautiful, you’ll want to be careful about having much hope in the way of colour. Autumn can be good though, with reds and yellows coming out in full force. Unfortunately, not all of Melbourne’s parks are like this. Only some parks are worth visiting in autumn.
The Royal Botanical Gardens Melbourne
One of the best gardens in and around Melbourne, the Royal Botanic Gardens are loved by both tourists and locals. The gardens themselves date back to quite a while ago (1845 to be precise-ish). Of course, they have been kept up to date and looked after incredibly well by their handlers. The gardens are also home to a really cool cafes which overlooks the city’s skyline. A perfect place to sit and have a coffee and a relaxing chat.
Some of the best places to visit in the gardens include the ‘silver garden’, where you’ll find all the plants in shades of grey and silver. Alternatively, you might be interested in checking out some of the old trees. The restored Guilfoyle’s Volcano also happens to be a fan favourite, with cacti and succulents dotted all over the place. It’s been one of the gardens most visited areas since it was opened in 1876.
The best time to visit Melbourne, and this park, is in summer. Summer is the best time, not only because of the weather being nicer and the plants being happier (as said above) but also because if you time it right, you can actually watch Shakespeare plays on the lawn. Possibly whilst having a nice picnic whilst out on a romantic day trip. Moreover, at night-time, you’ll find yourself immersed by a moonlit outdoor cinema. Check the schedule and find out what’s going on before you arrive, but it’s definitely a sight to see if you’re in Melbourne in summer.
Fitzroy gardens is another of the best gardens in and around Melbourne. Having been first made an official park in the 1860s, its official mission (if a park can have a mission) is to set up a place for people to experience respite and relaxation. That honestly was what the original marketing material said. Has it succeeded? Well, yes.
The Fitzroy garden is lined with avenues of trees up and down. Looking at it from street level is impressive enough. However, what if we were to tell you that if you were on a plane (or could fly), you’d see that the park is actually in the shape of a Union Jack (that’s the UK flag, in case you didn’t know). Seriously though, it really is, Google Earth confirms it.
Other attracts in the Fitzroy gardens include the Fairies Tree in the centre. A unique looking tree with images carved into its surface. You’ll also find a scarred tree preserved in the south. This tree was originally here before European settlements arrived and was originally used by Aboriginal people to make a collection of different things.
Carlton Gardens is included within the world heritage listing for the Royal Exhibition building. That’s right, this place is a UNESCO world heritage site! Having been originally landscaped for Melbourne’s International Exhibition in 1880, they were seen as so well done and representative of the international exhibition movement, that they came to be protected in relation to it.
Dotted around the gardens, there are still a lot of things which have been left over from the exhibition. It’s almost as though the garden is in a time bubble, and you’ve just been allowed to stay in it for a short time.
Alfred Nicholas Garden
Without a doubt one of the best autumn gardens around Melbourne. Located in the Dandenong Ranges, the Alfred Nicholas gardens are home to an absolutely incredible selection of deciduous trees, whose leaves turn incredible shades of yellow and red. If you’re looking to take amazing pictures around autumn in Melbourne, then you can’t miss out on this place.
A strange fact about the gardens is that they are named after a businessman who sold the Australian alternative to Aspirin: Aspro. He became pretty successful and with the profits he built a beautiful art deco mansions and gardens, which have now been given over to the State. Honestly, he should have included them on his prescription for headaches. They are incredibly beautiful and the perfect place to stay if you want to relax and calm your mind.
Make sure to get here early. A lot of people seem to think these gardens are some of the best gardens around Melbourne, so they fill up pretty quickly. We agree.
George Tindale Gardens
For those still looking for one of the best autumn gardens around Melbourne (and who aren’t satisfied by just visiting one or want something a little quieter), the George Tindale gardens are the place to be. Also located in the Dandenong Ranges, throughout the year there is always something incredibly striking about the garden, yet it’s during autumn that it really starts to stand out.
The deep reds are penetrating. Everywhere you look, you’ll be greeted by hydrangeas, Rhododendron’s, and camellias. That’s on top of the already rich landscape of fallen autumn leaves.
An absolutely brilliant place to sit down and have a light snack whilst admiring nature. One of the best gardens around Melbourne in autumn.
Flagstaff Gardens are one of Melbourne’s first gardens as well as the city’s first burial site. It’s uncertain when the park was originally constructed exactly, yet the general consensus is in the mid 1800s. Not only is this one of the earliest gardens, it’s also one of the best gardens in and around Melbourne.
Interestingly, when it was first erected, Flagstaff Gardens indicated when a ship was coming in. There used to be a time ball tower which would allow ships captains to set their watches. That tower still exists today and can be seen at Williamstown. It’s an interesting attraction and worth the visit once you’ve finished looking at the Flagstaff gardens.
Flagstaff is perfect for those looking to explore Melbourne during the summer. The large lawns are great for sitting down and soaking up the sun, whilst the large number of trees make hiding in the shade for a while a piece of cake.
Cranbourne Botanical Gardens
If you’re in Melbourne, please make sure to allocate some time to visit the Cranbourne Botanic Gardens. These are the best botanical gardens in Melbourne. As soon as you enter and are greeted by the red-hued landscape and what looks like endless expanses of natural wetlands, heathlands, and woodlands, you’ll immediately understand why we love it.
If you’re an animal lover, you’ll also be lucky enough to find some of Australia’s rarest animals hiding in these gardens. That includes the Southern Brown Bandicoot, the New Holland Honey Eater, and a couple of other fauna spotter treasures. Make sure to stay on the lookout!
Melbourne’s Full of It
Melbourne isn’t just home to gardens. Being Australia’s cultural centre, the city has a lot to see and experience. There’s pretty much everything you could think of. However, everyone needs a break sometimes. Sometimes it’s just good to get away from it all and have a snooze somewhere, or sit down and soak up the sun for a few hours.
Melbourne’s parks are perfect for that. They’re easy to access and as soon as you feel your batteries are recharged, you can quickly head back out into the city to do the next thing on your list of attractions.
So, whether you're a local or are just visiting Melbourne take some time to explore the stunning parks and scenery. This guide was produced by eSkip which has the best and cheapest range of skip bins in Melbourne.