Flagstaff Gardens, the oldest park in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, was established in 1862. Nowadays, it is a popular destination for residents, office workers, and tourists, known for its historical, horticultural, and social significance to Melbourne’s history.

The park covers 7.2 hectares (18 acres) of Crown Land and is bounded by William, La Trobe, King, and Dudley streets, managed by the City of Melbourne. Nearby, you’ll find the entrance to Flagstaff railway station on the southeast corner and the Victorian branch of the Royal Mint, a well-preserved example of Victorian Gold Rush architecture, on the diagonal opposite corner. Over William Street, the iconic Queen Victoria Market stands.

The gardens feature expansive lawns with mature trees, flowerbeds, and even some wild animals like possums. The southern end is characterized by deciduous trees, while the northern end is home to mature eucalyptus trees. Avenues of elms provide shade along the pathways, and you’ll also spot several large Moreton Bay Fig trees. The north corner houses a bowling lawn, rose beds, and flower and shrub beds. Tennis courts, which can be used for volleyball, handball, and netball, are located along William Street. In December, the electric barbecues in the area are a popular spot for office parties. Throughout the park, you’ll find scattered memorials and sculptures that add to its historical and social significance.

Flagstaff Gardens have been recognized by the National Trust of Australia (Victoria) and are listed by the Australian Heritage Commission and the Victorian Heritage Register. This listing ensures the preservation and protection of the beloved trees, landscaping, and other features that contribute to the historical, archaeological, aesthetic, horticultural, and social heritage of the site, as noted by Chris Gallagher, the Chair of the Victorian Heritage Council during the listing ceremony in April 2004.

The history of the gardens dates back to the pre-colonization era when the high ground between William and King Streets was known as Brejerrenywun to the indigenous Boonwurrung and Woiwurrung peoples. Over time, the area witnessed significant events, including the establishment of Melbourne, the first burials in the colony, the erection of a flagstaff for signaling purposes, the announcement of Victoria’s Separation from New South Wales, and the presence of a Magnetic Observatory and Weather Station. In the 1860s, the hill was transformed into public gardens following the efforts of Clement Hodgkinson, the Deputy Surveyor-General in charge of city parks. Since then, the gardens have seen various developments, including the establishment of paths, lawns, trees, and flowerbeds, as well as the addition of a children’s playground in 1918.

On October 9, 1917, the City of Melbourne assumed responsibility for Flagstaff Gardens, and on March 23, 2004, the gardens were officially added to the Victorian Heritage Register.