The Royal Botanic Gardens in Australia allow visitors the chance to walk through and learn about a huge variety of native flora and fauna in an engaging and interactive manner. Spend the day, even have a picnic, while taking in the stunning beauty of the Australian outdoors.

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The gardens were established by Lieutenant La Trobe in 1846. Over 60 years, the gardens were taken from simple swamplands to the stunning gardens they are today - even getting their official “royal” designation from the Queen Elizabeth the Second in 1958. They have undergone many changes in that time, adding and expanding through the goals of the director of the gardens.

Permanent Exhibits

Melbourne Gardens:

· Guilfoyle’s Volcano- Built originally in 1876 to store the water for the gardens, the “volcano” was unused for over 60 years before being restored. It now offers beautiful, one of a kind views of the city from the top of the historic reservoir, as well as displaying the low water usage plants.

· Children’s Garden- The garden was built to allow younger visitors to get their hands dirty while learning. It has a variety of special features - Ruin Garden, Bamboo Forest, Plant Tunnel, and more - all meant to cater to the youngest guests.

· Melbourne Observatory- Although not technically part of the gardens, the observatory allows the gardens and the Astronomical Society (of Victoria) to work together and provide guests with this unique experience. The only way to see the inside is to take a tour of the facility, which are offered regularly.

· Garden Highlights- Besides those listed above, visitors should also make sure to see all the various lakes and islands located at the gardens (Fern Gully, Ornamental Lake, etc). Other highlights include the rain garden (Canna Bed - uses polluted runoff storm water to water the gardens, after it is filtered) and the gates (Nareeb, Observatory, etc).

· Plant Collections / Fauna- There are over 30 different plant collections on display, from beautiful perennials to huge trees, which are arranged according to category/grouping. There are also many different species of local, native fauna - like birds, turtles, eels, foxes, and many more. Keep an eye out!

Cranbourne Gardens-

· Garden Highlights- Make sure to find the viewing points located throughout the garden, which point out photo ops! Follow the walking trails, which lead guests through all of the many highlights.

· Australian Garden- This immersive display focuses on art, architecture, flora, and landscaping native to Australia. It also teaches guests how to use native plants in their own gardens. The garden is broken down into multiple exhibition gardens that teach guests about the way the landscape, plants and people in Australia are all connected.

· Bushland- View native Australian bushland, as well as species that have been designated rare and even endangered! Take one of the walking trails through this mostly untouched bushland area, or even bring a bicycle and try one of the cycling tracks!

· Plant Collections / Fauna- There are also a huge variety of plant collections, arranged by grouping/category as well as many native faunae like snakes, birds, and frogs.

Educational Opportunities

Both Melbourne and Cranbourne gardens are a great resource for teachers who want to get their students out into nature and study in a more interactive and hands-on way. With programs that stretch from early childhood education, through primary, secondary, and tertiary school age, there is something for every specific lesson plan and goal. Each program has been hand designed by educators to allow for a student-centered approach, which includes lessons, story time, crafts, and more. Sessions run just over 100 minutes (running between 10am and 12:30pm) and do require a small cost per child, or a group cost for the entire class. Adults and teachers are admitted free. Reservations are required ahead of time and can be made by calling the garden educators directly at 03 9252 2358.

There are also vacation programs for when students are out of school. These programs are designed to keep children educationally engaged while school is closed, as well as providing options for home schooled children. Programs vary depending on which garden, as does cost.

Dining and Shopping

Located at Cranbourne is a picnic area, which provides space in the bushland for visiting families to stop and have a picnic. Free trolleys are available. On site are pavilions with hot plates and picnic tables that can be used without reservation. For visitors who want to take a piece of their visit home, the Garden shops allow them to bring home household goods, art, and gardening supplies. This also helps benefit the gardens and allows them to care for the grounds financially.

Corner of Ballarto Rd and Botanic Drive, Cranbourne, Victoria 3977, Phone: +61-3-59-90-22-00

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