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Monday to Friday: 10:00 am to 4:30 pm
(excl. public holidays)
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Royal Botanic Gardens

The Royal Botanic Gardens was established in 1846, after Lieutenant Governor Charles La Trobe selected the site on the southern bank of the Yarra River.

At the time of its foundation, the Gardens’ site was an uninspiring mixture of rocky outcrops and swampy marshland, but it was not long before the foundations were being laid for one of the great gardens of the world.

In 1857, the Gardens’ first full-time Director, Ferdinand von Mueller was appointed. Mueller was to become one of the most acclaimed botanists of the 19th century. Mueller established the Gardens’ scientific centre, The National Herbarium of Victoria, and amassed an extraordinary range of plants from every corner of the world.

ST Gill, City of Melbourne from the South Bank of the Yarra Yarra looking North West. Reproduced courtesy of the La Trobe Picture Collection, State Library of Victoria.

Plan of the Government House reserve, Botanic Gardens, 1864. Reproduced courtesy of the Map Collection, State Library of Victoria.

Baron Ferdinand von Mueller, silver albumen photograph, c. 1867. Photographer, John Botterill. Reproduced courtesy of the La Trobe Picture Collection, State Library of Victoria.

Donald McDonald, Elevated view of the Royal Botanic Gardens, c.1870. Reproduced courtesy of the La Trobe Picture Collection, State Library of Victoria.

William R Guilfoyle, Plan of the Melbourne Botanic Garden. This plan was created at the beginning of Guilfoyle's directorship of the Gardens in the 1870s

Plan of the Melbourne Botanic Gardens. This plan from 1948, shows the influence of William Guilfoyle, who succeeded Mueller as Director.

In 1873 Mueller was succeeded by William Guilfoyle, who set about creating the Gardens’ world-famous ‘picturesque’ landscape style. Guilfoyle sculpted sweeping lawns, meandering paths and glittering lakes, creating a series of vistas offering a surprise around every corner. Guilfoyle was aided in his work by Melbourne’s mild climate, which allows an exotic mix of tropical and temperate plants to be grown.

Today, the Gardens are home to more than 51,000 individual plants, representing over 12,000 different species. They are a natural sanctuary for native wild life including black swans, bell birds, cockatoos and kookaburras.

The Gardens are owned by the people of Victoria and managed by the Royal Botanic Gardens Board.

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