One of Melbourne's most beautiful green spaces, the Royal Botanic Gardens has surprises hidden in every leafy corner. Discover the best natural wonders, events and dining the gardens have to offer.
Seek out a volcano in the city
Did you know Melbourne has a volcano hidden in plain sight? Built in 1876, Guilfoyle’s Volcano looks like a decorative garden straight out of the 18th century and is super practical. The volcano recycles and stores nearby storm water, bio-filtering it through the wetlands. Built on the highest peak in the landscape, it uses gravity to circulate water to the gardens. Handy.
Visit a desert cacti garden
A stark contrast to the lush greenery that fills the RBG, the Arid Gardens bloom with striking aloes. Over 3000 cacti and succulents pepper this desert landscape, a new addition in 2020. As you wander through the garden, ponder the importance of these hardy drought-resistant plants in our warming climate.
Play in the Children’s Garden
Even the littlest of nature lovers will find magic in the Ian Potter Children’s Garden. A space designed for kids of all ages, the garden is filled with activities for intrepid explorers. Pack their bathers for a splash under the water fountains. Or let them get their hands dirty digging in the veggie garden. Note: the Children’s Garden is currently closed for winter and will reopen on Saturday, 3 September.
Find serenity in Fern Gully
Fern Gully has three lush meditative spaces, perfect for solo contemplation. The highlight of the Wellbeing Gardens is the Bird’s Nest, where you can breathe in the green surroundings in a suspended swing chair. There’s also the sheltered grotto, and a Japanese-inspired moss garden. Sit atop stone seats and unwind before the central ‘mother stone’ fountain.
Run The Tan
From shufflers to elite athletes, the jogging track surrounding the gardens is a favourite destination for Melburnians wanting to escape the gym. Universally known as The Tan, this broad path is kind to knees because it’s surfaced with fine gravel. The only exception is the challenging Anderson Street hill. Covered in asphalt, it inclines about 30 metres over a distance of 300 metres. Gasp! Run in good company with the Saturday morning Run Club.
High tea in the gardens
What better setting for an elegant high tea than among the greenery at the Royal Botanic Gardens? Jardin Tan's high tea starts with a glass of bubbly and features classic nibbles like scones with jam and cream. For something more whimsical, head to the Gardens House for a Botanical Wonderland High Tea. Tuck into a miniature edible garden served on a bed of chocolate 'soil'.
Go Punting on the Lake
See the gardens from a different angle with a cruise on an English-style punt around the Ornamental Lake. Discover picturesque islands and bays of the lake while learning about the history, wildlife and plants on this unique chauffeured experience. Running through the warmer month only, this is a stunning photo opportunity. And did we mention you can bring your dog?
Find virtual reality art
Did you know these lush gardens are filled with hidden virtual reality art? Download the free Seeing the Invisible app to uncover 13 immersive virtual works and turn the gardens into a gallery. Look out for creations by local and international artists including Ai Weiwei.
Take a walking tour
Explore the vibrant gardens on a free guided walking tour. Discover natural flora and fauna as you wander through rolling landscapes, towering trees and glittering lakes. Or get a deeper understanding of our shared environment on the Aboriginal Heritage Walk. For thousands of years, the site of the Gardens has been a significant meeting place for the local custodians of the area, the Boonwurrung and Woiwurrung people of the Kulin nations.
Travelling on wheels? All areas of the gardens are accessible by wheelchair and walker, except the Melbourne Observatory buildings and Fern Gully. Walkers, motorised and manual wheelchairs are welcome on guided tours and hire is available. Check out the Access Map to find your nearest accessible parking spaces and toilets throughout the gardens. For more information on accessibility, visit the website or contact the Visitor Centre.
The Botanical Hotel is known for its welcoming atmosphere, fine food and wine store.
Great coffee and all day eatery with views of the Royal Botanical Gardens.
Delight in delicious bites and drinks in a welcoming space with its own dine-in herb/veggie garden.
Last updated on Mon 15 Aug 2022
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