Ultimate Guide to visiting The Royal Botanic Gardens in Melbourne Australia

The Royal Botanic Gardens in Melbourne, Australia is the perfect place for a few hours of morning exploring. Founded in 1846 on the south side of the Yarra River, it contains tranquil ornamental lakes, lush tree fern rainforests, arid cactus deserts, exotic flowers and perfect green lawns. 
 
With a diversity of over 10,000 different species of both native and non native flora, it extends across 89 acres and is only a few minutes walk from the Melbourne CBD.
 
Follow this guide for all the secret tips and hidden areas of the gardens. 
 
Cactus in Guilfoyle’s Volcano
 

OPENING TIMES?

From 7:30am to sunset every day of the year. 
 

COST?

It’s FREE!
 
The Ornamental Lake
 

HOW MANY HOURS?

You could easily spend from 1 hour to 4 hours seeing the sights in the gardens. 
 

HOW TO GET THERE?

Because the gardens are so large, there are multiple ways for you to get there. 
 
Train and walk – disembark at Richmond Train Station and walk 10 minutes through “Goschs Paddock” and over Morrell Bridge where you’ll arrive at Gate “A” and enter the gardens from there. 
 
Train and walk – disembark at Flinders Street Train Station and walk down St Kilda Rd for 5 minutes until you reach the “Queen Victoria Gardens” (opposite the State Theatre) and turn right into them. Walk through those gardens next to Alexandra Avenue until you reach Linlithgow Avenue. Cross that road and you’ll enter the Royal Botanic Gardens. 
 
Tram and walk – take tram number 64, 16, 6, 67, 5, 72, 3/3a from Flinders Street down St Kilda Rd for 4 stops and disembark at Stop 20 (Domain Interchange). You’ll see the Shrine of Remembrance and the gardens are behind that large building. 
 
Car – there is street parking along Birdwood Avenue, Alexandra Avenue, Anderson Street and Linlithgow Avenue. Don’t forget to check the street signs if you need to pay because there are some areas where you need to!
 
 

MUST SEE SIGHTS

Fern Gully 

This is one of my favourite areas! Located near Gate E, It’s a natural gully in the gardens that contains a stream that visitors can follow on a wooden boardwalk underneath a canopy of tall tree ferns. It’s a very quiet and calm place to be. This suspended swing has only recently been added into the Fern Gully and is a beautiful place to sit, relax and swing 🙂
 
 
 
 

 

Guilfoyle’s Volcano

Located near Gate C and Gate D, this attraction contains plants that don’t need a lot of water, like different species of Cactus. There is a volcano shaped water reservoir to irrigate the landscaped gardens as well as boardwalks and viewing platforms that visitors can walk up to see glimpses of the city
 
 
 
 

The Grotto

This is the perfect place to sit and meditate and be at one with your surroundings. Located near Gate H, visitors can walk down concrete steps and come across a large waterfall with a river in the middle of the grotto. Embedded into the rock formations around the area are historic pieces of crockery and china that were found by gardeners around the Gardens. 
 
 

Pioneer Women’s Memorial Gardens

This is a beautiful area next to The Grotto that was built as a remembrance to the pioneering women of Victoria. It’s a popular venue for outdoor weddings and has a stunning water feature in the middle of it. 

 

The Ornamental Lake

This lake is thousands of years old and is the remnants of an ancient natural water system in Melbourne. Located in the middle of the gardens, visitors can explore the lake by small boat (called a “punt”) that leaves from the Terrace Cafe. It’s surrounded by expansive lush green lawns where you can sit quietly and have a picnic or just meditate for awhile. It’s the perfect place if you’re looking for romantic things to do in Melbourne. 
 
 

The Tan

The Tan is Melbourne’s most popular running route and is mostly made out of gravel apart from Anderson St. It’s 3.827kms long and goes around the full circumference of the Gardens. Suitable for runners and walkers of all abilities, this is an iconic track that you’ll want to run on! It’s very easy to navigate and is also fully floodlight until late at night.
 

OTHER SIGHTS?

The beautiful gardens include many other things to see such as the California Gardens (flora from California area), Australian Forest Walk (displays plants native to eastern Australia), New Zealand Collection, Southwest Pacific Collection, Herb Garden, Tropical Glasshouse, Southern Africa Collection, Perennial Border near Gardens House, Southern China Collection, Rare & Threatened Species Collection, Rose Collection, Water Conservation Garden, Arid Garden, Nymphaea Lily Lake, Lower Yarra River Habitat, The Herbarium.
 
The Herbarium
 

FACILITIES?

The Gardens have a wide array of facilities that include cafes, icecream shops, souvenir shops, a visitor centre, numerous drinking fountains and many restrooms/toilets. 
 

IMPORTANT INFORMATION?

Dogs are allowed in the Gardens but must be on a leash
-To protect the gardens, cycling, jogging, ball games, skating or climbing trees is NOT allowed. 
-Visitors can book tours (including the Aboriginal Heritage Walk) at the visitor centre.
 

HOT TIP

The eastern side of the gardens (near Anderson Street) is much more quiet than other areas. So it’s a good place to find a secluded spot if you want to meditate or write in your journal. The area near the visitor centre and the children’s garden is always very busy with lots of people. 
 

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