Melbourne’s picturesque parks, gardens and green spaces, within walking distance of the CBD, are just one of the reasons for Melbourne being voted the world’s most livable city. In fact, Melbourne is considered to be Australia's garden city, and Victoria, The Garden State.
On the Yarra River’s north bank, next to Federation Square, is Melbourne's newest park. Listen out for the ringing of the ear-and-eye-catching Federation Bells and browse the open-air collection of artworks celebrating Victoria's indigenous culture. Catch the rowers on the river in the early morning.
Designed for the Melbourne International Exhibition of 1880, the World Heritage-listed Royal Exhibition Building and surrounding Carlton Gardens are an urban oasis of manicured flowerbeds, ornamental lakes, elaborate Victorian-era fountains, and giant trees. The Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show is held here each April.
Royal Botanic Gardens
Given its ‘royal’ moniker by Queen Elizabeth II after visiting early in her reign, the Royal Botanic Gardens has been much loved by generations of Melbournians. Cruise in a traditional punt on Ornamental Lake, tour the National Herbarium, or star-gaze at the Old Melbourne Observatory.
One could easily while away hours in wonder at the tiny doorways of the historic Captain Cook's Cottage; but there are plenty of other highlights here, including the glass conservatory, the carved Fairies Tree, miniature Tudor village, fountains, and shady avenues of grand old trees.
A short tram ride from the city centre is Melbourne Zoo, a modern day ark renowned for its world-wide conservation efforts. Spend the day wandering around more than 300 exhibits, or really immerse yourself by camping out with the animals overnight on Roar ‘n’ Snore’.
Life’s a beach
When summer hits its heights, Melbournians head for their bayside beaches.
St Kilda is the most famous; Elwood is the most family-friendly; while Brighton is renowned for its colourful beach huts. Williamstown is perfect for paddling; while kitesurfing and beach volleyball abound at Middle Park.
Melbourne’s Sandbelt, in the southeastern suburbs, is one of the finest stretches of golf courses in the world, and home to eight of Australia’s best courses; two in the World Top 100. Tee off on a course that has challenged the world’s greatest golf champions.
Meet and mingle with retired champion racehorses and Melbourne Cup winners such as Might and Power, Brew, and Rogan Josh, at Living Legends in Greenvale. Smell the roses in the heritage gardens of the historic homestead or picnic in the grounds of the 400-hectare park.
Tucked behind Federation Square, is Pop Up Patch, an edible and tranquil oasis right the heart of the city. Members rent and tend their own little veggie patches, but visitors are welcome to wander around. Join a workshop and take away some edible gardening expertise.
Hidden just three kilometres from the city, Herring Island on the Yarra River is only accessible by boat. It’s a haven for nature and art lovers, with an outdoor sculpture trail and art gallery. A punt service operates from Como Landing on weekends during summer.