Welcome to “the green heart of Melbourne”. Established in 1852, these grand gardens are located on what was originally a swamp on the edge of the city, writes DK Eyewitness Travel Australia guidebook. The gardens house “one of the finest collections of botanic species in the world, as well as being highly regarded for their landscape design.” William Guilfoyle, curator of the gardens between 1873 and 1909, “used his knowledge of English garden design to create a horticultural paradise.”
And make sure you don’t miss a visit to the oldest part of the garden, the Tennyson Lawn, with its 120-year-old English elm trees, advises Frommer’s Easy Guide to Australia. “Other special corners include a fern gully, camellia gardens, an herb garden, rainforests packed with fruit bats, and ponds full of ducks and black swans.”
Circumnavigating the Botanic Gardens is The Tan -- “Melbourne's most popular running route,” according to Hilary Simmons in Buzzfeed. “It's up to you whether you walk, run, or prance the 3.8km of scenic goodness,” she says. “To make it even better, it's just a short stroll from the city, and it's dog-friendly!
The 3.827 kilometre perimeter track consists of sandy-coloured stone gravel (except for one section called Anderson Street) which “provides slightly less grip than asphalt, but delivers lower impact,” explains Weekend Notes. There are three theories on where its name comes from: “1) a shortened form of The BoTANic Gardens; 2) from the tan-like colour of the sandy track; and, 3) my favourite, from its origins as a tan-bark horse-riding track for Melbourne's establishment!”
“Regardless of how the label came about,” says The Long Run, “it’s about as iconic as any running trail gets” in Australia. “Underfoot you couldn’t ask for a better surface, other than a golf course! It’s generally busy at lunch or early afternoon, but never so packed that you can’t find your own rhythm or do intervals. 250m distance markers start near Swan St Bridge and go clockwise around the gardens.”