The historic Carlton Gardens are a Melbourne icon, and the setting for the contrasting structures of the historic Royal Exhibition Building and the contemporary Melbourne Museum.
The site is a permanent monument to 19th-century western, industrial culture and is one of few surviving precincts that were created to symbolise the achievements of the industrial age of that time.
Special features of Carlton Gardens include:
- the circular French Fountain;
- avenues of large mature trees;
- the Westgarth drinking fountain;
- plantings in honour of the Dalai Lama;
- ponds and flower beds in Carlton Gardens south;
- the Carlton Gardens Courts (enquiries 9663 7000);
- two ornamental lakes created for the 1880 exhibition;
- wonderful photo opportunities (popular with wedding groups);
- the temporary and permanent exhibitions of Melbourne Museum;
- the Royal Exhibition Building (guided tours can be booked on 13 11 02);
- Lie of the Land, a sculptural installation at the entry to Melbourne Museum;
- remnant pieces of stone from the Colonial Square building (built in 1896, demolished in 1960);
- the children's playground based on the concept of a 19th century maze (north of the Museum);
- the elaborate Hochgurtel fountain, with symbols representing commerce, industry, science and the arts; and
- the Moreton Bay Fig trees where local aboriginals have traditionally met and socialised, and singer/songwriter Archie Roach created two of his well known songs.