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Melbourne's Free Gardens

The city is surrounded by beautiful gardens, some with great historic significance and all a great place to spend the day.


Easily accessible from the center of the city the Royal Botanic Gardens are an oasis of peace and tranquility on the edge of the bustling city. The land for the gardens was originally set aside in 1846 as an area forever to be freely accessible by the public. Today the gardens encompass a total of 38 hectares that gently slope down to the Yarra River.

There are in excess of 50, 000 individual plants representing 8500 different species from all corners of the globe. In addition there are over a dozen public lawns, the Hopetoun Lawn adjacent to the Ornamental lake being one of the most popular, are the perfect place to picnic or just sit and enjoy the peace of the gardens.

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Located next to the National Herbarium on Birdwood Drive is the Ian Potter Foundation Children's Garden, an interactive educational environment in which children of all ages, backgrounds, physical abilities and cultures can play, explore and discover the natural world. It features plants, water, structures and pathways that reflect Melbourne's changing seasons.

The garden has been designed to intrigue, teach and excite children from a very young age about the importance of conservation and the environment. It is scaled specifically for children to create a sense of ownership, care and responsibility for the environment. The Children’s Garden is accessible to anybody including wheelchair users, visitors with walking frames and parents with prams.

Check the website for an update on daily activities.

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If you like to run, jog or walk you mustn’t miss the experience of jogging or walking “The Tan Track”. Running primarily around the perimeter of the Gardens is this famous jogging path. Measuring 3.8 kms, the starting point for the track is at the “Pillars of Wisdom” just opposite the Swan Street bridge, the track has marker points every 500 metres or so starting at this point. To assist you with timing your efforts there is also a large digital clock at this location as well as another one about half way around. There is plenty of fresh Melbourne drinking water available around this track.

The origin of the name “The Tan” is quite curious, it is quite reasonable to use this abbreviation as the track surround the Botanic Gardens, however most Melburnians will tell you it refers to the original Tan Track which was actually a track for horses used by the wealthier Melbourne settlers that were living in this beautiful part of Melbourne.

The Tan Track remains one of the places to run in melbourne with many running events taking in all or part of the track. The current record for The Tan is 10:12 sec and was set in 2004 by Australian Olympian Craig Mottram.



The Shrine of Remembrance was built to meet the needs of a grieving community after the extensive loss of lives in the First World War (1914 –18). 114,000 Victorians enlisted in the First World War. Of the 89,000 of them who served abroad 19,000 were killed. They were buried in distant graves far from home at a time when most Australians did not travel abroad.

Since 1935 the Shrine Guards have carried the responsibility of guarding the Shrine of Remembrance on behalf of generations of Victorians. The Shrine Guard proudly wear the uniforms of the Light Horse Infantry. Limited additions have been made to this uniform since it was adopted. The Shrine Guards dual security and ceremonial roles at the Shrine have not greatly changed since 1935. The proviso that Guards should be recruited from those who had seen active service was removed in 1970. In 1990 recruitment from the Victoria Police ceased and men were drawn from the Victoria Police Protective Services Unit, fully trained in military drill and equipped to become Shrine Guards. The first female Shrine Guard was appointed in 1995.

The Shrine of Remembrance is open daily and is free to enter and access the wonderful exhibitions (although donations are greatly appreciated) The steps of the Shrine offer panoramic views of the CBD.

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