For anyone interested in the Australian natural environment the Melbourne Botanic Gardens are a good starting point. The gardens are a great place for a walk or picnic with an educational edge. Many local, national and international species can be found serendipitously whilst perambulating along the shady trails.
Signage provides the names of individual species, and there are also other features such as a fallen tree used to explain to visitors the importance of decomposing wood for the ecosystem.
The Brachychiton discolor or Queensland Lacebark whose trunk is shown above, is in flower around January, and abundant pink blossoms scatter around the trunk.
Most species here are from other regions of Australia, and so it’s more useful to learn about other regions of the country rather than just Victoria alone. There are also some unusual examples such as this Pisonia umbellifera, or Birdlime tree, which is reported to entrap and kill birds with its sticky fruit to fertilize the soil. Vicious!
The Royal Botanic Gardens were established in 1846 by Lt. Gov. Charles LaTrobe. The site was rather swampy being in the vicinity of the Yarra river, and located just across from the Central Business District of the young city. Melbourne itself had been founded by way of the negotiations with local Wurundjeri in 1835. Botanist Baron Sir Ferdinand Jacob Heinrich von Mueller, who was at the time the government Botanist of Victoria, was appointed as director of the Botanic Gardens in 1957. Mueller’s successor, William Guilfoyle, contributed to the landscaping of the gardens and many of its current features, such as the fern gully, rockeries and the ornamental lakes are based on his designs. The Botanic Gardens continue to be the playground for generations of locals and visitors.
The Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne
Main entrance: Birdwood Avenue, Melbourne 3004
Open 7.30am – sunset every day of the year
Entry to the Gardens is free.