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Corporate entry Melbourne Botanic Gardens (1846 - 1958)

South Yarra, Victoria, Australia
Birdwood Avenue, South Yarra, Victoria


The Melbourne Botanic Gardens was established in 1846 on a site of nearly 2 hectares south of the Yarra River near the centre of Melbourne. Its purpose was to provide a pleasure garden for the growing metropolis. By the end of the century it had expanded in area to 36 hectares. Ferdinand Mueller was the third Director from 1857 to 1873 while concurrently Victorian Government Botanist in charge of the Botanical Museum of Melbourne. He was responsible for establishing the scientific dimension of the Gardens' activities as a place to trial introduced plants and inform the public of the botanical world. The fourth Director, William Guilfoyle, transformed the Gardens into a landscape in the 'picturesque' style, creating sweeping lawns and panoramic vistas, and making extensive use of subtropical plants. In 1925, with the appointment of William Laidlaw as Director and Government Botanist, the National Herbarium of Victoria (formerly the Botanical Museum of Melbourne) and the Gardens were joined again, having been separated in 1873. The Gardens received a Royal warrant in 1958, becoming the Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne.


The Gardens was under these colonial and State Government Departments:
1846 - 1857 Chief Secretary's Department
1857 Board of Lands and Works
1857 - 1867 Chief Secretary's Department
1867 - 1872 Commissioner of Crown Lands and Survey
1872 - 1873 Department of Agriculture (subordinate to the Department of Crown Lands and Survey until 1890)
1873 - 1925 Chief Secretary's Department
1925 - 1958 Department of Crown Lands and Survey


 1846 - 1958 Melbourne Botanic Gardens
       1958 - Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne

Related People

Published resources


  • Pescott, R. T. M., W. R. Guilfoyle 1840-1912: the master of landscaping (Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 1974), 153 pp. Details
  • Pescott, Richard Thomas Martin, The Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne: a history from 1845 to 1970 (Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 1982), 212 pp. Details

Journal Articles

  • Aitken, Richard, 'Picturesque but instructive: William Guilfoyle's first decade at the Melbourne Botanic Gardens', Australian garden history, 7 (4) (1996), 6-18. Details

Helen Cohn