The Flagstaff Gardens
are Melbourne's oldest gardens. They take their name from a flagstaff
erected in 1840 at the settlement's highest point, in order to communicate
between the harbour and town. This became known as "Flagstaff
Hill". Before this, the area was used as a cemetary and was
known as Burial Hill. (There is a memorial in the gardens that marks
the graves of the first European settlers.) The hill was at such
a high point that people going to Flagstaff Hill enjoyed panoramic
views of the bay. However, as city buildings rose up around the
gardens, the views were blocked out. Today, standing in the gardens,
it is hard to imagine that this was such a high point and that it
was once possible to see the bay.
and the area surrounding the gardens is steeped in history. On 11th
November, 1850, Queen Victoria declared Victoria a separate colony
and a bonfire was lit that night on Flagstaff Hill to signal the
news. Shortly after that event, gold was discovered in regional
Victoria and the Royal Mint was built at the south-east corner of
the gardens to mint gold from the goldfields of Ballarat and Bendigo.
were constructed in 1880 after residents of West Melbourne became
concerned at the dereliction of Flagstaff Hill and petitioned the
Governor to turn the area into public gardens or a recreational
They are laid
out on 7.17 hectares of land at the northern edge of the CBD and
are bounded by King, Latrobe, William and Dudley Streets. They comprise
mature trees (including huge Morton Bay Figs) set in spacious lawns
and garden beds with flowering shrubs, roses and annuals. There
are monuments and sculptures set out across the gardens.
Gardens are a popular lunch-time spot on a sunny day with city workers.
That's not surprising as even in the early times of the settlement
they were regarded as a fashionable place, with people going their
to picnic and listen to the music of regimental bands, while taking
in views of the bay. Interestingly, many more people visit the gardens
each day than the more impressive Fitzroy gardens, on the other
side of the CBD.
Gardens have been classified by the National Trust of Australia
(Victoria) and is listed by the Australian Heritage Commission.