Fitzroy Gardens is one of Melbourne’s most stunning historical parks and gardens. Located in East Melbourne, it was originally planned to become a reserve and has since grown to become an attraction in its own right.
Fitzroy Gardens History
Fitzroy Gardens sprang to life in 1848, intended as a reserve to be known as Fitzroy Reserve. The name of the 64 acre/26 hectare area comes from then-Governor of NSW, Sir Charles Augustus Fitzroy, who was also Governor-General of the Australian Colonies from 1851 to 1855. The gardens themselves were laid out in 1859, featuring a Victorian-era design that has retained its classic and timeless beauty to this day.
Although created by the Colonial government following the gold rush, Fitzroy Gardens didn’t pass to the sole control of the City until 1917.
Between 1848 and 1917 the path system was established, gas lamps were installed, and structures such as the kiosk, gatekeeper’s lodge, Sinclair’s Cottage, and the ‘Temple of Winds’ rotunda were built. Following 1917, a dining room was added to the kiosk, Cooks’ Cottage was erected, and the Plant Manager’s house was built. The kiosk was destroyed by fire in 1960, and was replaced several years later in 1964.
The Fitzroy Gardens Visitor Centre opened in 2014, and provides entry to Cooks’ Cottage.
Fitzroy Gardens Location
Fitzroy Gardens is an oasis inside of East Melbourne’s metropolis. Although surrounded by a hive of activity, you’ll feel like you’re in a quaint and quiet garden with the city as nothing but a distant memory. It really is the best of both worlds!
Fitzroy Gardens is in East Melbourne, bordered by Lansdowne Street, Albert Street, Clarendon Street, and Wellington Parade. Due to its central location, it’s easily accessible from any area of the city by foot or public transport. You can get there by walking from the city centre (about a 15 minute walk from Federation Square), the free City Circle tram (disembark at the Spring Street, Treasury Gardens stop), tram routes 48 or 75 (disembark at Wellington Parade), or train (disembark at Parliament or Jolimont stations).
The gardens are free to enter, open year-round, and are accessible 24/7. The Visitor Centre is open from 9 am to 5 pm every day of the year except Christmas Day, as is Cooks’ Cottage. The conservatory is open daily from 9 am to 5 pm (5:30 pm during day light savings), unless staff are changing the displays.
What To Do At Fitzroy Gardens
Fitzroy Gardens is a beautiful place for a picnic, meeting up with friends or family, getting some work done in the fresh air, or simply relaxing and reading a book. The tree-lined footpaths are excellent for taking a leisurely stroll or getting in your daily exercise with running or jogging.
For those who love to learn as they walk, you can join a free guided walking tour which begins at 10 am every Saturday. If that time doesn’t work for you, no problem— you can take a self-guided tour at your own pace.
Photographers love to flock to Fitzroy Gardens, especially in autumn as the leaves begin to take on golden hues. Whether you’re a pro or an amateur, there’s always an interesting and beautiful scene to depict here.
The model Tudor village, located near the centre of the park, is always worth a visit. People of all ages will be enchanted by the quaint small cottages that make up the village, which were donated by the citizens of Lambeth, England in 1948. The models are very fragile so while you cannot enter the enclosure, you can walk around to see the tiny village from all angles.
Children in particular will also love the Fairies Tree, a sculpture by Ola Cohn that was gifted to the children of the city in 1934. There is also a children’s playground as you head towards Albert Street
The Conservatory houses five floral displays per year in its classic Spanish mission style building.
Display 1: Hydrangea / Fuchsia: November – February
Display 2: Tuberous Begonia / Gloxinia: February – April
Display 3: Tropical / Poinsettia: April – July
Display 4: Cineraria / Cyclamen: July – September
Display 5: Schizanthus / Calceolaria: September
Whatever the season, there’s sure to be something new and exciting to see every time you visit the Conservatory.
Cooks’ Cottage is located near the Depot as you walk from Wellington Parade up Lansdowne Street. You will need to purchase a ticket from the visitor centre for entry, and you’ll be rewarded with this historical cottage gifted by philanthropist Russell Grimwade to commemorate Victoria’s centenary in 1934. Other structures you won’t want to miss are the Rotunda, the Dolphin Fountain, and Sinclair’s Cottage.
If you’re hungry or thirsty after all your exploring, don’t miss the café! They have a simple menu that covers all the bases, and also offer hassle-free picnics you can enjoy within the Gardens.