The leaves are falling, Autumn is calling! No matter where you look, you are bound to see the stunning seasonal colour palette in Melbourne. The city is covered in Elm, Ash and Maple trees (courtesy of the homesick English trying to bring a little of the mother country to their new land), so chances are your suburban street is fast becoming a riot of amber, crimson and gold hues.
Autumn is the time for smoking open fires and hot chocolate, but it’s also the time for crunching russet leaves and spectacular golden gardens. So to make the most of these seasonal changes, rug up and visit one of these scenic gardens and bear witness to Mother Nature’s ever-evolving floral canvas.
Alfred Nicholas Memorial Gardens
Named after Alfred Nicholas, the man who co-developed the Aspro painkiller, the gardens were established in 1933. Roving through the picturesque 13-acre estate, you’ll discover moss coated ponds, charming bridges, sculptures, a rotunda and a mystic waterfall.
The most photographed segment of the garden is the quaint boathouse and ornamental lake, reflecting the vibrant foliage in autumn.
Many people will tell you that to really get stuck into autumn goodness, you need to go to the incredibly picturesque Alfred Nicholas Memorial Gardens on the Burnham Beeches estate in the Dandenong Ranges.
The paths that cross the spectacular gardens roll out under a canopy of soaring Mountain Ash Trees, all of them in full multicoloured glory.
In amongst the Gardens, you’ll also find waterfalls, water features and its iconic ornamental lake and boathouse, perfect for that heirloom family snapshot.
While you’re there, take in the fantastic blend of native and exotic trees, including ginkgoes, maples and liquid ambers that provide transeasonal foliage, and the extra colour is provided throughout the year by a variety of exotic flowering shrubs, bulbs and trees.
Gardens of Tieve Tara
After establishing the original garden in the 1860s, Mother Nature rewrote Tieve Tara’s story not once but twice, with fires destroying the gardens in 1962 and 1983. Since then, the 7.5-acre property has become a private vineyard, and Toulouse geese and wild ducks bathe in the lakes while sparkling foundations adorn the grounds. Particularly striking in autumn, the Virginia creepers, maples and pin oaks colour the gardens.
The garden is a lovely place to be in during autumn as reds, oranges, and yellows steal the scenery. There’s always something new to enjoy and experience as the gardens react to the change in weather between March and May. The Monet-style bridge also changes dramatically, as the wisteria leaves surrounding it change from green to yellow. What a masterpiece!
National Rhododendron Gardens
Internationally renowned the National Rhododendron Gardens are enveloped by colour all year round. Located in Olinda, the gardens boast over 15,000 rhododendrons, 12,000 azaleas, 3,000 camellias and 250,000 smiling daffodils. Deep fern gullies and cherry tree groves further the array of textures and shades that garnish these gardens.
The gardens are known to house some of the rarest and most popular Australian flora and fauna. You will come across a number of garden and fern gullies at this park, apart from its variety of seasonal blooms.
Visitors to the garden can explore the habitat of rare lyrebird species, with a number of visitors heading to this park in winter in order to watch this rare bird. You will also find several other bird species; including king parrots, ducks, peacocks and crimson rosellas.
From the perfumed Azalea Steps to the glorious Peony Pavilion, Cloudhill is a garden built on harmonious diversity. Located in the Dandenongs, the park is set ablaze in autumn when the ornamental grasses erupt to amber and the Yokohama Maples blush crimson. Cloudhill is also distinguished by its hedges, meadows ornamental garden beds.
Maroondah Reservoir Park
Located in the Yarra Valley, Maroondah Reservoir Park, or Maroondah Dam as it’s sometimes referred to, is an English style garden featuring both native and exotic plants.
Within the autumn months, the Rose Stairway is most picturesque, while the azaleas and rhododendrons are at their most spectacular in the spring. The park is also home to native Australian wildlife, including wallabies, wombats and echidnas.
Castlemaine Botanical Gardens
Designed by renowned botanist Baron Sir Ferdinand von Mueller, Castlemaine Botanical Gardens showcases an established collection of native and exotic trees, including an oak planted in 1867 by the Duke of Edinburgh, which the National Trust lists. Integrated into the landscaped gardens is an ornamental lake that reflects the canary yellow foliage in autumn.
Designed for the Melbourne International Exhibition in 1880, the Carlton Gardens house the Melbourne Museum, IMAX Cinema and the Royal Exhibition Building. The 64-acre site features two ornamental lakes and three elaborate fountains, including the French Fountain and Hochgurtel Fountain, as well as flowerbeds, Moreton Bay fig trees, palms and avenues lined with elms.
You will discover the World-Heritage Carlton Gardens a short stroll away, outside the Melbourne Museum and the Royal Exhibition Centre. Among the gardens, flowerbeds, ornamental lakes, and elaborate fountains (including the very famous Victorian-era Hochgurtel Fountain at the end of the avenue where you’re sure to find a bride or two any day of the week), you’ll find mature European trees in their full show-off state during autumn sprawled across 64 acres.
Whether you’re taking the kids to the playground, playing tennis, having a picnic, or just taking a shortcut from Nicholson Street, it’s a popular spot to visit every Autumn just to immerse in the spectacular display of colour.
Wombat Hill Botanical Gardens
Sitting on the site of an extinct volcano, Wombat Hill Botanic Gardens offers panoramic views of Daylesford. Brimming with 19th-century character, the gardens feature sweeping open lawns shaded by mammoth conifers and elms, making it one of Victoria’s most beautiful regional gardens.
Established in the 1860s by Baron Ferdinand Von Mueller (also responsible for Melbourne’s Royal Botanic Gardens), the remarkable surrounding 10.4 hectares Wombat Hill Botanic Gardens are regarded as one of Victoria’s finest regional destination gardens. Many spots provide wonderful views over Daylesford and the surrounding countryside. Prized for their beauty and tranquillity, the gardens retain their gracious 19th-century character.
Built in 1929, Lake Daylesford is an idyllic place to unwind. Mature trees border the path, which encircles the lake, and throughout the autumn, the trees dazzle with amber and ruby shades.
Perched on the banks is the luxurious Lake House, which offers tranquil views over the lake. For the best views of the lake, stroll to the jetty and keep a watchful eye for the areas abundant birdlife.
Where To See The Best Autumn Colours In Melbourne
Ask any Melbournian what their favourite season is, and I can guarantee most will say, Autumn. As the shadows get longer and the air gets crisper, it’s the perfect opportunity to layer up, get outdoors, and enjoy the stunning displays of turning leaves in March, April and May.
A Melbourne Autumn is really something to behold. If you live in Australia’s more tropical climes, I’d really recommend visiting Victoria at this time of year.
Many parks and gardens in and around Melbourne and regional Victoria are planted with European tree species, which, unlike our native flora, put on gorgeous orange, yellow and red displays of colours before the leaves drop off in Winter.
You won’t have to travel far to enjoy Melbourne in its full Autumnal glory, just take a stroll through many of the city’s gardens. Or, if you fancy a day out-of-town, pack a picnic, drive up to the hills of the Dandenong or Macedon ranges for the perfect day out.
Where to head this Melbourne Autumn for Nature’s Kaleidoscope of Colour
The Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne
Without a doubt, the city’s most well-known and treasured garden oasis. Extending over 38 hectares, and houses a collection of more than 8,500 species of plants worldwide. There’s always something to see, do or explore in the city’s most-loved park, which burst into colour every Melbourne autumn.
Join the Botanical Gardens Aboriginal Heritage Walk to learn about the ancestral lands of the Koolin nation and Aboriginal traditions. Your guide will teach you about indigenous plants and trees and their uses for food and medicine.
It’s one of Melbourne’s most popular tourist attractions and one of those places that locals sometimes forget to appreciate fully. Traversing the entire 38-hectares of the Royal Botanic Gardens could make it a tiring day out for young ones, so a pram for little legs could help ensure you really take in all of the 50,000 plants on show here. Don’t forget to pack a picnic!
Considered one of the world’s best botanic gardens, Melbourne’s Royal Botanic Gardens are a beautiful, serene place to visit any time of year, but autumn brings its own sense of wonder to the beloved landmark. With over 6,000 tree species throughout the lush expanse, the vibrant abundance of autumnal colours paints an impressive picture.
Kids can also play among the autumn leaves and explore a range of nature-based sensory experiences at the delightful Ian Potter Foundation Children’s Garden.
A leafy escape that’s just a short stroll from the hustle and bustle of Melbourne’s city centre. Reminiscent of Victorian-era landscaping, in the gardens, you’ll find an ornamental lake, a cafe, a conservatory, James Cook’s English cottage, a model Tudor village, fairy tree, fountains, sculptures and a rotunda amongst its magnificent tree-lined avenues. The kids will love playing in the big piles of leaves that fall from the elms that line the paths.
Fitzroy Gardens is 64 acres of leafy brilliance on top of what was once a swampy creek draining into the Yarra River. Reminiscent of Victorian-era landscaping, you’ll find an ornamental lake, a cafe, a conservatory, James Cook’s English cottage, a model Tudor village, a fairy tree, fountains, sculptures and a rotunda amongst its magnificent tree-lined avenues. The perfect Autumn escape!
It’s these avenues that will afford you the most incredible views of autumn foliage thanks to the stately elms that line the paths, actually set out in a criss-cross pattern that mirrors the union flag. The leaves that fall are gigantic and are plenty of fun to tramp through and throw around.
Where to stay in Melbourne close to the Botanical Gardens?
Stay at the Seasons Botanic Gardens Melbourne – Just a stone’s throw from the Royal Botanic Gardens, with a view of the Shrine of Remembrance and all of the Melbourne autumn colour. Located on St Kilda Road, this hotel with self-contained apartments is within walking distance from the NGV, Tennis Center and CBD.
Seven beautiful gardens can be found in the Dandenong Ranges, just 35 kilometres east of Melbourne. Each garden features stunning fiery colours set amongst the picturesque hills and views of the Dandenongs.
See the seasons in the villages of the ranges as they burst with vibrant colour in spring and are softened by mist and dustings of snow in winter. Absorb the creative vibe of shops and galleries in Olinda, Belgrave and Sassafras, overflowing with one-off designs in jewellery, furniture and glasswork.
Observe how far you’ve come as you gaze down at the city’s twinkling panorama of fairy lights from SkyHigh atop Mount Dandenong.
Glimpse the shiny flanks of the historic Puffing Billy steam engine from your hilltop cottage or sun-kissed garden as it chuffs along its narrow-gauge track. Jump aboard and dangle your feet out of the open-sided carriages, or act grown up and enjoy first-class travel.
Less than an hour’s drive from the city, and the gardens are open every day with free admittance. In autumn, the most spectacular to visit are Dandenong Ranges Botanic Garden, Alfred Nicholas Gardens, George Tindale Memorial Garden, and RJ Hamer Arboretum.
Where to stay in the Dandenong Ranges?
Stay at A Loft In The Mill Boutique Accommodation – A charming Tudor style bluestone replica of a 19th Century flour mill and Carriagehouse. Located in Olinda in the heart of the Dandenong ranges. The property offers a variety of individually decorated suites, may of which boast a fireplace. A Continental breakfast basket is provided. Perfect for a romantic weekend getaway.
Seawinds Gardens at Arthurs Seat
Visitors can enjoy a network of walking tracks through formal gardens and native bush. Spectacular views over Port Phillip Bay and sculptures in the garden make this a trendy spot. The 34- hectare Seawinds Gardens lie within Arthurs Seat State Park on the Mornington Peninsula, one hour and 15 minutes from Melbourne.
Coolart’s historic mansion is set in a delightful garden with wetlands, woodlands, and pasture nearby just over an hour from Melbourne. Paths lead to the beach, lagoon and wetlands and the Homestead lawns are the perfect location for a leisurely picnic. Autumn is most definitely the prettiest time to visit, with the vibrant hues of the leaves transforming to all the colours of nature.
Where to stay in the Mornington Peninsula?
Stay at Lancemore Lindenderry Red Hill – This 4-star luxury guest house is set on a 30-acre estate and offers secluded countryside accommodation in the heart of Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula. Lindenderry has a winery, gardens, lawns, private vineyards, and an indoor pool and spa. Gourmet breakfast is included.
The Avenue of Honour in Macedon is a spectacular tree-lined stretch of road which leads to Mount Macedon Road. The stunning avenue of oaks honours the 154 men and women of Macedon and Mount Macedon who enlisted for service during World War I.
Welcome to the Macedon Ranges, a region to stimulate your every sense, less than one hour from Melbourne. Taste, sight, sound, touch and smell. In our dramatic undulating landscapes you can taste artisan food and produce, drink cool-climate wines, see and enjoy breathtaking heritage gardens and expansive forests, glimpse Australia’s wildlife and smell the fresh, clean air.
Simultaneously vibrant and tranquil, the Macedon Ranges is a place to rejuvenate.
Due to the high number of visitors to the region in the peak Autumn season, temporary traffic management measures are in place to ensure everyone has the best experience from April to Early May.
The Gardens of Tieve Tara undulate across 7.5 acres of sweeping lawns, lakes and trees, with vibrant seasonal colours. Probably the most famous private garden in Macedon, these gardens are open on selected days in Autumn, check their Facebook page for details.
751 Mount Macedon Rd, Mount Macedon, Victoria.
Where to stay in the Macedon Ranges?
Stay at Macedon Ranges Hotel & Spa – Treat yourself to a spa bath with a stunning view. Rooms are generously sized, and the facilities include an indoor swimming pool and open fireplaces. On site day spa is available for massage and beauty therapy bookings. Perfect girl’s weekend retreat.
Early autumn is harvest time in the Yarra Valley, and it’s also the perfect season to visit this visually stunning wine region. Vineyards turn a golden hue, and exceptional sunsets combine to ensure the region is at its most stunning. Try Glamping in the Yarra Valley in a Belle Tent, or maybe try a Glamping Pod.
Maroondah Reservoir Park
The Maroondah Reservoir Park must be one of the regions best-kept secrets and about one kilometre past the centre of Healesville. Featuring gardens with stands of native and exotic trees, walking tracks, native animals and birds. With plenty of playgrounds and expansive lawns, it’s the perfect place for a picnic.
Where to stay in the Yarra Valley?
Stay at Balgownie Estate Yarra Valley – Located on a beautiful award-winning vineyard, Balgownie Estate Yarra Valley offers luxurious Yarra Valley accommodation. Facilities include a cellar door, restaurant, day spa and indoor swimming pool. Suites with a spa bath, kitchenette and Yarra Valley views are available.
Get the whole Yarra Valley Experience with this Yarra Valley Wine, Bubbles & Gin tour. Take a tour of five Yarra Valley wineries with a local driver and guide that can pick you up from your Yarra Valley accommodation.
For an easy adventure with kids, this oh-so-popular park in South Yarra just south of the CBD offers a maze of meandering paths and a jigsaw of parklands that were first laid back in 1862 – and it has only become more impressive with Moreton Bay Figs, elms, poplars and great oaks all on show.
Fawkner Park offers a unique landscape amid a stunning forest of trees bathed in Autumn colour. For leaf-spotters, the effect is a European village green, and crunching through the litter of leaves is just one happy activity to plan with sporting fields, playgrounds and a cafe adding to the family-friendly fun.
Leaf angels, anyone? The avenue of mature shady elm trees surrounding Ardrie Park was moved here back in 1918, after starting their lives in one of the surrounding streets in this leafy suburb, now making them over a century old. During Autumn, the shedding leaves carpet the ground in a spectacular display of colour and texture. It’s an ideal place for family photoshoots and fun, with plenty of leaves to throw and frolic in.
Tucked in the backstreets of Malvern East, the park is somewhat of a local hidden gem. An added pleasure of this spacious and stunning park is the toddler-friendly playground that offers a perfect place to play, plus a BBQ area and dog park.
Cloudehill Nursery and Garden
Cloudehill Nursery and Garden is another jaw-dropping spot for autumn hues, with the perennial borders still very full for the first weeks of March before softening to “autumn effects”.
The ornamental grasses get into the spirit of things with their beiges and tawny crimsons, and the weeping maples turn to the colour of the setting sun. The huge Enkianthus perulatus by the summer house sinks into soft purple, then erupts to a slow-burning crimson, the temple pool filled with lemon and pink leaves. Just a reminder again about that camera!
Beeches throughout the gardens fill with russet and gold, and the last of the maples flush silk pink and crimson. The summer’s green bleeds away from the borders, the last of the salvias are tattered wands of cobalt and pink waving amongst grey lemons and tawny browns before hiding away for the winter.
Bright Autumn Festival
Please note: The 2021 Bright Autumn Festival, including the Gala Day and Flea Market, has been cancelled based on government advice regarding COVID-19. The next festival will take place from Friday 22nd until Sunday 1st May 2022.
A full 10-day celebration of the spectacular seasonal foliage in the valleys of Victoria’s Alpine High Country is truly not to be missed. Bright Autumn Festival is a vibrant carnival of the wonderful colours and produces of the season with the perfect climate and conditions. This year it runs from Friday 23 April to Sunday 2 May 2021. Don’t miss the Gala Weekend with a market, music in the streets and a grand parade on Saturday 1st May 2021.
It’s the perfect time to head mountainside and maybe cosy up in a log-fired cabin somewhere overnight to make a real deal of it. While you’re there, take in the Wandi Nut Festival, where locals gather to make homemade goodies from the heritage apples that litter the grass verges and blackberries that grow to celebrate the harvest; the Bright Brewery Bush dance, an Instameet for budding social photographers, the Bright Art Gallery’s Autumn Exhibition, the Metal and Wood day and a concert at the Community Centre.