Royal Botanic Gardens Place guide



Royal Botanic Gardens

The Royal Botanic Gardens are 94-acres of Victorian-era landscaping, a giant green lung on Birdwood Avenue.


The Royal Botanic Gardens are 94-acres of Victorian-era landscaping, a giant green lung on Birdwood Avenue. It is one of the Melbourne activities within the city center not to be missed. Within the gardens, you’ll find mini ecosystems with Australian flora from all over the world; herb gardens; indigenous rainforests; multiple lawns for picnicking and ponds filled with swans. 

Open from 7:30 AM to sunset every day of the year; free entrance. 

Visitor Centre 

  • If you’re overwhelmed by the size of the gardens, a good place to start is the Visitor Centre, located at the Observatory Precinct on Birdwood Avenue. 
  • Here you can pick-up a few maps and brochures, plus obtain information on the different areas of the gardens, free guided walks, offered tours, wheelchair hire and access, and cafes among others. 
  • The Visitor Centre is open from 9:00am to 5:00pm on weekdays, and 9:30am to 5:00pm on weekends and public holidays; closed on Christmas and New Years Day.  

The Garden Explorer 

  • The Garden Explorer is the most convenient way to navigate the gardens; it is an open-air bus tour that includes live commentary on the history of the gardens, its cultural significance, and an interpretation of the various landscapes. 
  • The tour begins at the Oak Lawn and lasts for approximately 30 minutes. 
  • You can either ride a full circuit; hop off at Lakeside for refreshments at the Terrace Cafe; or take a cruise on Ornamental Lake. 
  • Tours run from 12:00pm to 5:00pm, every 30 minutes, from Monday to Friday; and from 11:00am to 5:00pm every 30 minutes on Saturdays, Sundays and Public Holidays 
  • Tickets are 10 AUD for adults; 8 AUD for children; and 25 AUD for a family of 2 adults and 2 children 
  • Bookings must be made at least an hour in advance, either through this website, by calling the Visitor Centre, or by purchasing tickets at the Visitor Centre or from a tour guide at the departure location. 

Aboriginal Heritage Walk

  • For those who have some time to spend, one of the must-do Melbourne tours at the Royal Botanic Gardens is the 90-minute long Aboriginal Heritage Walk. It begins with a smoking ceremony — a custom in which various native plants are burned to produce a smoke that cleanses, keeps bad spirits away from the people and the land, and clears a path for the future. 
  • Afterwards, an Aboriginal guide will lead you on a leisurely and informative stroll, pointing out the traditional uses of several flora and fauna species as you make your way through the garden. The walk concludes with a serving of lemon myrtle tea. 
  • The walk is actually the first part of the day-long Aboriginal Melbourne Tour, a cultural touch among Melbourne sightseeing options – but is also offered as a standalone activity from Sunday to Fridays, from 1:00am to12:30pm; arrive at least 15 minutes early by 10:45am
  • Tickets are 35 AUD for adults and 12 AUD for children
  • It is necessary to book ahead of time, either by clicking the “BOOK NOW” button on this pageor by calling 03 9252 2429. 
  • Dress appropriately for an outdoor experience
  • The tour is wheelchair accessible


  • There are two Cafes in the gardens: Jardin Tan and The Terrace.
  • Jardin Tan offers farm-to-table French-Indochinese cuisine. 
    • It is open from 8:00am to 4:00pm daily. 
    • It is the perfect spot for either a quick bite or a lingering lunch
    • For 20 AUD, you can opt for a “Tiffin in the Gardens,” a packed lunch you can take to enjoy in a sunny spot outdoors. 
    • You can also order a “Com Phan,” a delicious family-style tasting plate of different foods. 
    • Produce served at Jardin Tan is grown on-site in the gardens. 
  • The Terrace offers fine food, wine, and a spectacular view over the Ornamental Lake to Government House.
    • From October to April, it is open daily from 9:00am to 5:00pm; from May to September, it is open daily from 9:45am to 4:00pm. 
    • They serve lunch, Devonshire high tea, coffee, and cake. 
    • Both indoor and outdoor seating are available.

Wheelchair Accessibility

  • There are wheelchairs for hire at the visitor’s center; a 50 AUD refundable cash deposit is required. 
  • Motorized and manual wheelchairs and walkers can be brought on all guided tours. 
  • All areas of the garden are accessible by walker and wheelchair, with the exception of the Melbourne Observatory buildings which are historic and still have narrow entrances. 
  • Motorized wheelchairs may be brought onto lawn areas, but visitors making use of these are cautioned to watch out for wet weather or watering. 
  • Accessible parking is also available at separate points in the gardens. 

Rules to Keep in Mind

  • The following are prohibited in the gardens: bicycle or scooter riding, damaging or removing plants, feeding the birds, reptiles, amphibians, or fish, ball games, rollerblading or skateboarding, climbing any of the trees or plants, jogging, commercial activities or functions without a permit, and the scattering of ashes.

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