I am always looking out for new experiences, wherever I may find myself.
Published January 26th 2016
A Walk in the Park is one of seven self-guided walks developed by the City of Melbourne in order to help residents and visitors see the city on foot. I chose to do this one (as well as On the Waterfront) because it looked like it had a great blend of culture, history and beautiful locations.
Like all of the walks on offer, it starts at Federation Square where you can collect a map from the Visitor's Centre (you can also access an online copy here). The route then immediately heads east along Flinders Street towards Treasury and.Fitzroy Gardens, noting major sites like St Paul's Cathedral and Hosier Lane along the way (make sure you have a look at Ruteledge Lane too, which runs off Hosier Lane).
Treasury Gardens is the first park you visit (and it's revisited later too). The walk directs your attention to the monuments and memorials that might be otherwise overlooked, like the one to John F. Kennedy.
The memorial to JFK is one of the most picturesque places in Treasury Gardens.
It's Fitzroy Garden that dominates A Walk in the Park, and it does have a lot to see. Sights covered include (respectively) the Conservatory, Cooks' Cottage, Sinclairs' Cottage, the Fairies' Tree, the Model Tudor Village and the River God fountain, among others. This place is also a great spot for a picnic, so if you want to do this walking tour at a leisurely pace and really see all the attractions (it's possible to take a look inside the Conservatory and Cooks Cottage for example), I would recommend this spot as the place to take a break.
The Conservatory is free and open from 9.00am to 5.00pm (5.30pm during Daylight Savings).
The walk isn't only about the parks though, and there are a few sites north of these spots that are also included; St Patrick's Cathedral and its Pilgrims Walk in particular (I guess the later can be considered a kind of garden area though). These can be skipped quite easily if you're on a time frame (the whole walk should take two hours).
After heading back through Treasury Gardens, the walk heads towards Federation Square again. But before you finish, there's a detour past significant city buildings to Birrarung Marr, the last park on the walk and a new space in the city. As you learn on the walk, 'birrarung' means 'river of mists' and 'marr' means 'side of the river', in the language of the Wurundjeri people.
If you time your walk right, you'll get to hear the Federation Bells in Birrarung Marr playing. They go from 8.00am to 9.00am, 12.30pm to 1.30pm and 5.00pm to 6.00pm.
If you like A walk in the Park, there are six other self-guided walking tours by the City of Melbourne that you can also do. I've done On the Waterfront, which sticks to the north and south banks of the Yarra River and is very heavy on history. Secret Gardens is another walk, which focuses on the gardens south of the Yarra River (like the Royal Botanic Gardens).
Other tours, not put together by the City of Melbourne, include the self-guided Yarra River Precinct Art Walk, and the many guided tours, like the popular I'm Free experience.