Melbourne Accommodation

Parks and Gardens

Melbourne is Australia's 'greenest' city, with an extensive network of parks and gardens in the centre and surrounds (www.melbourne.vic.gov.au). Melbourne's climate lent itself in the early colonial period to the planting of English-style parks, most of which survive today not only as historic monuments, but as tranquil, verdant oases in the busy city. So extensive are the parks and the riverside walkways that you can stay away from the roads if you choose and experience the city from its green areas.

Although Melbourne's parkland heritage appears to be English, an extraordinary variety of Australian native plants awaits you at two special places in the city. Firstly, Royal Park covers 188 hectares and is a bushland of native vegetation and birdlife. Royal Park contains a memorial to Australia's best-known failed adventurers, Burke and Wills, who perished in the desert in 1860 in their quest to find the mythical inland sea. The Park is also home to Melbourne Zoo (www.zoo.org.au) and the Royal Melbourne Golf Club (www.royalmelbourne.com.au).

Secondly, Melbourne's newest park, Birrarung Marr, is the city's only major parkland to be opened for over 100 years. This is not by any means an indictment of the City of Melbourne's park policy, but an indication of the city's already extensive green coverage and the satisfaction of its people about its existing public spaces. Birrarung Marr honours the Aboriginal people who lived here and the extraordinary native flora and fauna that predated European arrival. The name Birrarung Marr is from the language of the Wurundjeri people and means 'river of mists'.

Birrarung Marr is more than a garden; it's a performance space set among the terraces. Speakers Corner offers anyone with anything to say the opportunity to do so, while the Federation Bells ring out daily, and ArtPlay gives children a creative facility and gallery. This is a great place to bring the children, as the outdoor playground is designed to stimulate their creativity, both physical and mental.

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