Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne

DSCN6966 (2)

It was a dull day in April when we visited the Royal Botanic Gardens in Melbourne, but our enthusiasm was not dampened by the louring clouds as we wandered around the 38 hectare site with its Autumn leaf-covered lawns, its lofty trees and waterways.

The RBG was founded in 1846 and is an idyllic oasis in the middle of Melbourne only a short walk from the skyscrapers which can occasionally be seen above the trees. Like most botanical gardens,  it's divided into areas such as the Australian Forest Walk, the Tropical Glasshouse, the Southern African collection and the Perennial Border to name only a few.

Because it's a big site, it isn't possible to see everything in one visit, but although we missed quite a lot, we were well satisfied with our morning's meanderings.


Banksias and chubby-trunked Boabs greeted us near the entrance to the gardens. I think these Boabs are youngish because I read that there's one in Western Australia that has a girth of 14.7 metres! It's thought to be 1 500 years old.




We first wandered along the Australian Forest Walk, photos above.  Here native trees majestically imposed themselves on the landscape: Corkwood, Hard Corkwood (which is apparently  different  from not-so-hard corkwood), Cabbage Tree Palms and Queensland Kauri jostled for space amongst the Eucalypts,  Corymbia, and Angophoras (which look like 'gum' trees with typical gum-type leaves), and they in turn sheltered the ferns, Dracaenas and Queensland Firewheel Trees.

Firewheel trees-'Stenocarpus sinatus'- have spectacular flowers that really are in the shape of a wheel, unfortunately not depicted very well in my photo on the right.


In another part of the gardens, known as the Oak Lawn people were occupied with enjoying the day even though the sky was grey and threatening. Schoolchildren played organised games or completed projects set by their teachers.


In the ‘Camellia Collection’  blooms in many shades of pink could be seen.  Autumn is the best time to see Camellia Sasanquas flowering in Australia.


A Wattlebird sipped nectar from a Floss Silk tree, Black Swans, native to Australia, swam in the lake, and an Eastern Spinebill (so difficult to photograph) found his lunch in the Echeverias.  Can you just see him there on the right?  He has a very long slender beak.  I'm happy to say I have Spinebills in my own garden, although I haven't been able to photograph one yet.


A wander through the rainforest provided us with an idea of what it would be like to be in a real rainforest.  This area is kept damp with frequent waterings and there are tall sprayers placed frequently but unobtrusively throughout.  It's full of huge ficus trees with buttressed roots, epiphytes, ferns, and a wide variety of palms. A delightful stream runs through, wending its way down the slope, finding its way under roots and finally into one of the lakes on the lower level of the gardens.


Finally, with our feet aching and the sky threatening rain, we headed off back to the city, anticipating a delicious lunch at the highly recommended 'Chin Chin' restaurant.  I had to take one last photo which wasn't strictly in the gardens, but I couldn't resist this unusual combination of colours.


Do you have a favourite public garden that you like to visit?

20 Comments Add yours

  1. Hi Jane

    How brilliant to be in touch with you! Thanks for this- I can’t wait to see the botanical garden in the Autumn. Any recommendations for gardens to visit in/around Melbourne would be gratefully received if you have a moment…Very best, Alison.

    1. Jane says:

      Thanks for your comments, Alison. I’ll send you an email with some information.

  2. Vicki says:

    So glad to hear you got to visit my favourite public Gardens, Jane.

    Shame it wasn’t sunny, but looks like you got to see plenty in your visit. Those Eastern Spinebills take a lot of practice to capture in a photo OR just plain good luck (if the tiny bird stays still long enough for a shot).

    I also have a photo of a Red Wattlebird in the Floss Silk Tree so it must be a favourite nectar venue for them.

    1. Jane says:

      That’s the first time I’ve seen a Floss Silk Tree, Vicki. It’s certianly very interesting with all its spikes. I was a long way from that bird when I took the photo, but brought it closer on the computer. We had a lovely morning in your favourite garden!

  3. Tracy says:

    It is such a treat to have an oasis like the Botanic Gardens in the heart of Melbourne. I love Melbourne city but find the birdlife not very varied. How lucky you were to see the spinebill.

    My son attended Monash Uni for a while; it was quite a different story there further out of the city. Perhaps people grow more natives in the ‘burbs.

    1. Jane says:

      It might be quite tricky for less bold birds in the gardens Tracy, with the close proximity to the city. I don’t know Melbourne very well, but enjoyed our short time there.

  4. Jude says:

    I spent hours in Sydney’s Botanical gardens and no doubt will again, they are magnificent. Whenever we go on a trip somewhere I always make a note of several gardens in the area that I want to see. Don’t always get to visit all of them, but I do my best! I find gardens are inspiring, relaxing and a lovely way to get some exercise.

    1. Jane says:

      Hi Jude, I also love the Sydney Botanical gardens with their views of the sparkling harbour. I was in Sydney for a couple of days this week- had every intention of going to the gardens but ran out of time, unfortunately.

  5. Lovely selection of photos. It is a huge gardens and definitely need a few visits to get around. I think Cairns and Perth are 2 of my favourite gardens. Like Jude I always google gardens when I visit anywhere

    1. Jane says:

      Thank you, Pauline. Another visit is certainly necessary because we seem to have missed quite a lot of the garden. We were only in Melbourne for one and a half days, so didn’t have a lot of time.

  6. Paol Soren says:

    This is a great post about a great place. Because I live quite close I often wander around. Next time let me know and I take you to some of the less visible treasures.

    1. Jane says:

      Thanks, John. I wish we had seen more of the gardens but it really wasn’t the best weather.

  7. Kris P says:

    Dull skies notwithstanding, it looks like a wonderful botanic garden, Jane. I’ve been spending a lot of time at my local South Coast Botanic Garden as I recently became a docent there. It’s nearly the same size as your RBG in Melbourne but still a relatively young garden, having begun its second life in the early 1960s after being used as a sanitary landfill (i.e. a trash dump) for decades. The Huntington Gardens in San Marino, California some 40 miles east of us are much more fabulous.

    1. Jane says:

      Hello Kris, thanks for your comments. I’ve googled the two gardens you mentioned and they both look spectacular! How wonderful to be so connected with the South Coast garden and to be able to go there frequently. I can’t think of a better new life for a landfill!

  8. This is a fab tour. Such interesting plants. I love the boabs. I think Great Dixter has snuck into the lead of my favourite gardens, just ahead of Sissinghurst and Nymans.

    1. Jane says:

      Thanks Ali. You have such famous and interesting gardens to visit!

  9. Carol says:

    Even though we lived in Melbourne for three years, I’ve never been to these gardens. Must go next time we’re there for a family event. Lovely photos, Jane.

    1. Jane says:

      Thank you, Carol. I think you would really enjoy a visit there: there’s a lot to see.

  10. Christina says:

    Sounds like a lovely way to spend the morning, I hope lunch was as good as you anticipated. There aren’t many public gardens here in Italy only historic ones, my favourite to visit is Villa Lante.

  11. Chloris says:

    Thank you for a tour of this fabulous botanical garden. I particularly liked the rain forest and the amazing banksia.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.