I am always looking out for new experiences, wherever I may find myself.
Published February 29th 2016
There are a lot of gardens just south of the Yarra River in central Melbourne. In fact, if you're not a regular visitor, a walk through them can be a little overwhelming. But this self-guided tour will show you just what they have to offer.
The walk does one big loop of the four gardens (collectively known as the Domain Parklands), starting and ending at Federation Square (this is so you can pick up a map at the Visitor Centre, but you can also access a copy online here).
The first park you visit is Queen Victoria Gardens, where a monument to Queen Victoria stands on a hill (Alexandria Gardens is located before this one, but the walk has you visit it on the way back). Other features of the garden include statues, a floral clock, and a memorial to King Edward VII.
Among the pathways of Queen Victoria Gardens are sculptures, like this Water Nymph
Next the walking tour takes you through King's Domain, after briefly using the Tan track, a 3.8 kilometre route around the gardens that's popular with joggers. The main feature of the Domain in the Sidney Myer Music Bowl.
Most of the walk focuses on the Royal Botanic Gardens. In fact, almost 20 stops on the tour are here (there are 42 in total). Sights you'll be directed to include individual gardens and lawns, historic buildings and more (because there are so many attractions, you don't get quite as much information on these points of interest as you do for the other gardens).
If you prefer to do this 2.5 kilometre walk at a leisurely pace you might want to stop and have lunch at the Botanic Gardens. The walk passes the Terrace cafe and tea rooms, but if you pack your own lunch (a light one, of course), you can sit and enjoy one of the lawns. The Oak Lawn is pictured here.
After the Botanic Gardens, it's time to head back towards Federation Square again, via Alexandra Gardens. Here you'll see attractions like the 'star bed', a star-shaped flower bed that represents the Federation of Australia.
These gardens aren't the only attractions in this part of Melbourne though, and if you follow the walk exactly, there is a little detour you can do along the way over to the Shrine of Remembrance if you've got time (in which case make sure you see the new underground galleries). Another detour can be made to nearby La Trobe's Cottage, once the home of Charles La Trobe, the settlement's first governor.
The Secret Gardens walk is one of seven walks developed by City of Melbourne that explore key city locations. The other walks include A Walk in the Park, which focuses on the parks north of the Yarra River like Fitzroy Gardens and Birrarung Marr, and On the Waterfront, which traverses the bridges in the area and educates you about what used to be in their place. There are less stops and more history on these walks.
Another free self-guided walk nearby is the Yarra River Precinct Arts Walk, which looks at things like the arts precinct in Southgate and the public art along the Yarra River.
Next holidays, I'm going to suggest to my husband that we book a hotel in town and really get to know our own city. The range of self-guided walking tours is worth the doing. I'd like to be ble to tick them all off.