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Walking time: 2.5 hours
Distance: 6 km
Sculptures, monuments, the Arts Centre, sculptures, monuments and the beautiful Royal Botanic Gardens.
Queen Victoria Gardens (1) Queen Victoria Monument (2)
To begin, walk south along St Kilda Road until you’re opposite the Arts Centre, then step down to the 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.
Floral Clock (4) Edward VII (5)
Walk back towards St 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.
‘Tan’ (6) Sidney Myer Music Bowl (7)
Just over Linlithgow Avenue near Walker Fountain, cross to the ‘Tan’, where Melbourne’s fit and fabulous come to jog. The 4km 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 St 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.
King George V (8) King’s Domain (9) Aboriginal Burial Stone (10)
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.
Shrine of Remembrance (11)
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.
Observatory Gate, Observatory Buildings (12)
Turn left at Observatory Gate and join the crowds for a quick snack or a latte at Observatory Café beside the old Observatory Buildings and the Gardens Shop.
Royal Botanic Gardens (13)
Enter the lush green world of the Royal Botanic Gardens, one of Victoria’s most popular tourist destinations. Originally an Aboriginal mission, 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.
National Herbarium (14) Guilfoyle Memorial (15) Western Lawn (16) Oak Lawn (17) Camellia Collection (18) Herb Garden (19)
Follow the peaceful winding paths, past the National Herbarium, Guilfoyle Memorial, Western Lawn, Oak Lawn and the gardens’ stunning Camellia Collection. Rest for a moment in the Herb Garden to enjoy the calming scents of traditional herbs.
Central Lawn (20) The Separation Tree (21)
Above Central Lawn, over the treetops, you can see the majestic white tower of Government House. Opposite a rest house is the Separation Tree, an original River Red gum – the species that once covered this entire region. It was at this place that in 1850, Victorians celebrated their coming independence from New South Wales (which occurred in 1851).
Terrace Tea Rooms (22) William Tell Rest House (23) Long Island (24)
Relax at the elegant Terrace Tea Rooms and enjoy sweeping views over the Ornamental Lake, then stroll on past the William Tell Rest House and the recreated billabong near Long Island.
H Gate (25) Garden Directors’ Names (26) Aboriginal Heritage (27) Plaque (28) Plant Craft Cottage (29) Grey Garden (30) Temple of the Winds (31)
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 Lt Governor Charles La Trobe who selected the gardens’ site and nurtured their early growth.
Huntingfield Lawn (32) Lych Gate (33) The Grotto (34)
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.
Pioneer Women’s Memorial Garden (35)
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.
Yarra River (36) Swan Street Bridge (37) Henley Landing (38) Rowers War Memorial (39)
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.
Alexandra Gardens (40)
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. In Melbourne’s early years floods ravaged the low ground here, which was home to timber cutting and brick makers’ quarries.
Avenue of Elms (41) Riverslide Skate Park (42) Star Bed of flowers (43)
Along the Avenue of Elms, pass Riverslide Skate Park to discover the beautiful Star Bed of flowers – a feature of Alexandra Gardens.
Federation Square (1)
Relaxed and refreshed, return to Federation Square along Princes Bridge at St Kilda Road.