26 Feb 2019
Autumn leaves in Melbourne? You better be-leaf it!
Finding a tranquil garden for admiring autumn leaves in Melbourne is easier than you think. While Royal Botanic Gardens [Birdwood Avenue, Melbourne] is a beautiful place to visit at any time of year, during autumn it’s spectacular. With more than 6,000 tree species calling it home, including towering English elms, the vivid autumnal colours are bound to impress. For a relaxing start to your day, take a stroll through in the morning — it opens at 7.30am — and see the leaves as the morning sunlight starts to hit. After you’ve explored, head to The Terrace [Alexandra Avenue & Anderson Streer, South Yarra] and treat yourself to freshly baked scones and a cup of tea while taking in the spectacular view over the gardens and Ornamental Lake.
On the other side of town, you’ll find the stunning Carlton Gardens [1–111 Carlton Street, Carlton], home to two ornamental lakes, three fountains, the heritage-listed Royal Exhibition Building and, not to forget, a tapestry of trees in both Australian and European varieties. Perhaps the kind it’s most known for is the Moreton Bay fig, with its root system snaking out over the ground below thick, sprawling branches. For a spectacular sight, stand at the end of the pathway looking up towards the Royal Exhibition Building. Trees line either side of the path and their arching branches pop against the building in the background.
For a garden that showcases the juxtaposition of Melbourne’s CBD to natural, picturesque scenes, Fitzroy Gardens [Wellington Parade, East Melbourne] is the place. With the city buildings looming just beyond the historic treetops, you’ll get a sense of just how much Melbourne has evolved. Meander the pathways of this Victorian-era garden lined with beautiful elms. At this time of year, the sprawling lawns are sprinkled with leaves in almost every shade of orange, showcasing the best of autumn in Melbourne. If you have the little ones in tow, be sure to stop by the model Tudor village made up of miniature cottages. There’s also a scale model of Shakespeare’s home.
A little further afield, Yarra Bend Park [Kew & Fairfield] is a fantastic place to enjoy at a higher pace while taking in the hues of deciduous trees, many of which are native. The park spans more than 200 hectares of changing landscapes and has the Yarra River running right through it, making it perfect for experiencing autumn in a more active way. Put on your runners and go for a jog around the paths and trails of its bushlands. Be sure to keep an eye out for the viewing platforms throughout the park, some with views through to the city. You could easily spend the better part of a day at this park that stretches over multiple suburbs and is serviced by food and beverage outlets like the Studley Park Boathouse cafe, restaurant and kiosk. Here you can also hire canoes so for a change of perspective, why not paddle your way around the park. As you go, notice the diverse and lush vegetation. Alternatively hire one of the quaint rowboats — perfect if you prefer to slow down for a moment of peace as you take in the surrounds.
Heading just south of the CBD you’ll find Fawkner Park, a place that historically focused on recreation with facilities for tennis, football, softball and more. Established in 1862, this unique park was initially designed to facilitate seven different activities simultaneously. The park is a jigsaw of trees, dividing each section. Not sounding like your typical picturesque park? Wait till you see its stunning elm, oak and Moreton Bay fig trees in all their autumn glory. Pay this place a visit as the sun sets and enjoy the changing colours of the sky and trees with the city buildings off in the distance.
On the west side, Queens Park [Mountt Alexander Road & Kellaway Avenue, Moonee Pond] is a great place to go when the kids are in tow. In addition to leafy trees and open spaces, there’s a wonderful wooden playground featuring slides, see-saws, swings, monkey bars as well as play equipment suitable for the younger ones. The picturesque Queens Park Lake is surrounded by various established exotic trees and unique shrubbery. When autumn hits, their foliage creates a vivid spectacle of shapes and autumnal colours. After you’re done strolling around the lake and gardens, enjoy a bite to eat at Curators Collective Cafe situated right in the heart of the park.