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Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria

  • Things to do
  • Melbourne
  1. Photograph: Carmen Zammit
    Photograph: Carmen Zammit
  2. Photograph: Carmen Zammit
    Photograph: Carmen Zammit
  3. Photograph: Carmen Zammit
    Photograph: Carmen Zammit
  4. Photograph: Carmen Zammit
    Photograph: Carmen Zammit
  5. Photograph: Carmen Zammit
    Photograph: Carmen Zammit
  6. Photograph: Carmen Zammit
    Photograph: Carmen Zammit
  7. Photograph: Carmen Zammit
    Photograph: Carmen Zammit
  8. Photograph: Carmen Zammit
    Photograph: Carmen Zammit
  9. Photograph: Carmen Zammit
    Photograph: Carmen Zammit

Time Out Says

If there’s anywhere you can escape the madness of the city CBD without actually leaving it, the Royal Botanic Gardens is the place. Located on the city’s fringe, this expansive garden is home to a cool 8,500 plant species, zen lakes and lush lawns.

Workshops, tours, walks and talks showcase the intricacies of the gardens – from star-gazing night tours in the Melbourne Observatory to science seminars, such as one exploring the phylogeography of coconut. The Aboriginal Heritage Walk takes you on a journey into the history of the Koolin nation. An Indigenous guide will lead you around the gardens, through a traditional smoking ceremony and show you the uses of plants as both food and medicine. Want to see the Gardens from a new point of view? Book in for a traditional punt cruise around Ornamental Lake, complete with beautiful views of the bays and mini islands. You even get your own paper parasol.

Want to do your own thing? There are plenty of walks and plant collections you can explore at any time. The camellia collection is one of the world’s best with more than 950 different types; Fern Gully recreates a cool forest, which showcases many fern species; and the Tropical Glasshouse is filled with colourful flowers and palms. The Royal Botanic Gardens are also home to the National Herbarium of Victoria, housing more than 1.5 million plant, algae and fungi specimens.

Written by
Time Out editors


Birdwood Ave
South Yarra
Opening hours:

What's On

Moonlight Cinema

  • Outdoor cinema

The Moonlight Cinema has announced its return to the Botanic Gardens this summer, as well as a first-time commitment to going green. Through a partnership with Garnier, every screening will be 100 per cent powered by solar panels. Catch your favourite flicks after dark and under a sky full of stars, minus the environmental impact.  Starting on Dec 2, moviegoers can expect a line-up of new releases including Dear Evan Hansen, Venom: Let There Be Carnage and Shang-Chi. In the lead-up to Christmas, you can catch a string of festive favourites like Love Actually, The Holiday, Home Alone and Die Hard.  Those looking to splurge can opt for the gold grass experience, with comfy bean bag beds and a premium view of the big screen. You don't even have to get up for movie snacks or drinks, as waiters will happily take your order. And it wouldn't be summer if you didn't treat yourself to some ice cream, so reserve tickets to the Connoisseur Lounge and beat the heat with decadent and creamy flavours.  Moonlight is also a dog-friendly experience, so feel free to bring along the furriest member of your family and let him plonk down on a plush dog bean bed while snacking on canine movie snacks.  Screenings kick off at sundown (which is around 8.45pm during summer but as early as 6pm in April), and tickets range from $18-$40. See the current program here.

Seeing the Invisible

  • Digital and interactive

The world's most ambitious augmented reality art exhibition is on now at Melbourne's two Royal Botanic Gardens. Seeing the Invisible is an alfresco art exhibition showcasing works by some of the world's top contemporary artists, including Ai Weiwei, Refik Anadol (who you might remember did the massive quantum computer work, 'Quantum Memories', for the 2020 NGV Triennial), El Anatsui, Isaac Julien, Mohammed Kazem, Sigalit Landau, Sarah Meyohas, Pamela Rosenkranz and Timur Si-Qin. From September 2021 until September 2022, visitors to the Botanic Gardens can explore Seeing the Invisible for free, viewing the artworks via an app available on smartphones and tablets. When you visit Seeing the Invisible you'll also be taking part in an exhibition that's happening simultaneously around the world in 12 different locations. Melbourne's Botanic Gardens are the only Australian location taking part, with other venues including the Eden Project in Cornwall, Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden in Cape Town, the Royal Botanical Gardens in Ontario, and the San Diego Botanic Garden.  Seeing the Invisible is on at both the Melbourne and Cranbourne botanic gardens from now until September 30, 2022. 

The Wind in the Willows

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Comedy

We may be on the verge of further disruption to our lives, but sitting by the lake in the Botanic Gardens on a cool summer morning watching grown adults cavorting on the grass dressed as animals from a classic children’s book, you could be forgiven for thinking all was right with the world. Glenn Elston’s inimitable production of The Wind in the Willows, now in its 35th year, continues to delight and distract Melburnians young and old as only a shaggy, silly-as-a-wheel panto-style comedy can. To be honest, even while it adheres closely to the narrative beats of the novel, this stage adaptation has never really had much interest in Kenneth Grahame’s utterly sublime book; there isn’t a hint of the deep, rich nature prose or the deliciously eccentric character quirks. This isn’t the kind of show that can sustain a chapter like ‘The Piper at the Gates of Dawn’, where Rat and Mole come across a pagan demi-god very like Pan himself, “while Nature, flushed with fullness of incredible colour, seemed to hold her breath”. Here, no one holds their breath for more than a moment, which suits the youngest members of the audience just fine. The first twenty minutes or so are taken up with a series of introductions. We meet our guide Chief Head Rabbit (Callum O’Malley), who confesses late in the show that “I’m not even in the book!”, and his tricksy side-kick cum villain Weasel (Alex Cooper). They in turn introduce us to Mole (Christina Wells), Ratty (Andrew Bongiorno) Badger (Charles Mayer)

Shakespeare Under the Stars: The Comedy of Errors

  • Comedy

The Australian Shakespeare Company is bringing the Bard back to Melbourne's Royal Botanic Gardens this summer with a season of The Comedy of Errors. The play is one of Shakespeare's most chaotic comedies, drawing on the playwright's love of mistaken identities and puns. The story is thus: two sets of twins are separated at birth only to be coincidentally (and unknowingly) reunited as adults. Naturally, hilarity ensues as each character mistakes each other for the person – think of The Comedy of Errors as a Shakespearean version of The Parent Trap. The play is also one of Shakespeare's shortest, earliest and most farcical works, with plenty of slapstick humour and zany occurences throughout. The Comedy of Errors is showing at the Royal Botanic Garden's Southern Cross Lawn in a "picnic theatre" setting. This means you can BYO a picnic rug or low-rise chair, snacks and drinks to enjoy while watching the show. There is also on-site catering and a bar if you prefer.  Tickets are available now, and can also be purchased at the gate up to one hour before show time. 

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