While cozying up to an open fire and sipping on some hot cocoa may be the most appealing aspect of autumn, the season also ushers in crunching leaves and stunning displays of autumn's golden foliage. For the best experience of the changing seasons, bundle up and head out to one of these beautiful gardens to take in the ever-changing floral canvas that is Mother Nature.
Seeing Melbourne in the fall is a sight to behold. The weather in Victoria at this time of year is ideal for those who live in the more tropical parts of Australia.
European tree species are widely planted in parks and gardens in Melbourne and regional Victoria because, unlike our native flora, they put on beautiful displays of orange, yellow, and red before their leaves fall in Winter.
Taking a stroll through one of Melbourne's many gardens is one of the best ways to experience the city in the fall. Pack a picnic and head out to the Dandenong or Macedon ranges for a day trip if you'd rather get out of town. Bring your camera with you!
Here's Autumn Leaves in Melbourne
There are no native deciduous trees in Victoria because Australia isn't known for its autumn foliage. While we do have a few deciduous trees in the tropics, Australia has only one native deciduous tree in the temperate zone, which can be found in Tasmania.
However, the arrival of Europeans brought more than just coffee and delicious Turkish kebabs to Melbourne; they also brought with them deciduous trees. While British expats may scoff at the idea of autumn leaves here in the United States, anyone who has spent their entire life in the company of eucalyptus trees will find the sight of even a single red leaf to be quite a spectacle.
The best autumn foliage is typically found north of Melbourne, or at the very least in the hills where the air is cool; Macedon and Mt. Dandenong are reliable options. It's time to pack up the picnic basket and head out for a drive; these are the best places in Victoria to see the fall foliage.
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 dome and a mystic waterfall. The most photographed segment of the garden is the quaint boathouse and ornamental lake, which reflects the vibrant
foliage in autumn.
You don’t need to visit a formal garden to get a good look at autumn leaves in The Dandenongs. Ash trees, Maple trees and Liquid Amber line most of the roads. But the Alfred Nicholas Memorial Gardens are special. Take the turnoff just before you get to Sassafras and stop when you get to the carpark.
Entry to the gardens is free, and they’re open year-round (except for Christmas Day). Just thank Alfred Nicholas, the guy who invented Aspro painkillers. The foliage is pretty spectacular throughout the gardens but wanders down to the ornamental lake for that picture postcard Autumn shot of golden ginkgo leaves over the water.
Walhalla Goldfields Railway
This tiny gold rush-era town in Gippsland is home to only 20 permanent residents, so it’s the perfect, tranquil spot to find spectacular displays of autumn leaves. Take a ride on the Walhalla Goldfields Railway through the beautiful Stringers Creek Gorge and Happy Creek—yes, that’s a real place.
April is the best time to go, with the majority of the train line zooming through autumnal tapestries of colour. Alternatively, if you want to get your body moving, then trek along the Goldfields Rail Trail. Both options are a treat for the eyes.
Gardens Of Tieve Tara
After the establishment of 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 an abundantly fertile sanctuary where 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.
Known as the ‘jewel’ of Mount Macedon, the Tieve Tara estate is home to the region’s most famous gardens. It’s definitely worth the $10 entry any time, but especially in autumn when the pine oaks, aspens and copper beaches all transform at once. The ground becomes a carpet of amber leaves—one of those spots where you can’t take a bad picture.
There are 7.5 acres of lawns, lakes and trees to explore, and the gardens open from 10:30 am. Unfortunately, the best picnic spots generally fill up in peak season, so get in quick and stake out some prime real estate. Fun fact: the property is currently for sale, so it could all be yours if you’ve got a spare few million lying around.
Gardens of Tieve Tara The Gardens of Tieve Tara are open to the public on selected days during autumn and spring.
Wander through over six acres of park-like gardens, relax by the beautiful lakes, and watch the resident ducks and geese glide by. Explore the secret pathways, stroll down the rose walk and picnic under the shade of mature trees. Children will delight in the dedicated play area and explore Treasure Island amongst the towering Eucalypts.
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.
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.
From the perfumed Azalea Steps to the glorious Peony Pavilion, Cloudehill is a garden built on harmonious diversity. Located in the Dandenongs, the garden is set ablaze in autumn when the ornamental grasses erupt to amber and the Yokohama Maples blush crimson. Cloudehill is also distinguished by its hedges, meadows ornamental garden beds.
Sitting at a cool 580m above sea level (practically alpine by Melbourne standards), Cloudehill is right at the top of the Dandenongs, where the air is cool, and the soil is all volcanic loam. Perfect for growing pretty much anything, but especially deciduous European trees.
Wander down the Gallery Walk, just east of the entrance, or through the Cool Borders further south—that’s where you’ll find the best autumn foliage. The gardens are open 7-day from 9 am – 5 pm, and admission is $10. So stretch the legs, then head into Olinda for antiques and scones (or stay put and go full Devonshire in the Cloudehill restaurant). It doesn’t get more Dandenongs than that.
Gardens Of Glenlyon
It’s one of those tiny blink-and-you’ll-miss-it country towns. There isn’t much in Glenlyon, but it does have some of the best autumn foliage anywhere in Victoria. Every year the main street lights up in a firework display of reds and oranges.
Next time you’re heading to Spa Country, take a detour and stop off at the Glenlyon General Store for a pie and a walk beneath the trees. As pit stops go, it’s pretty awesome.
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.
Not a park that makes its way onto many Best of Melbourne lists, but if you ever stumbled on it, you’ll probably want to keep it a secret too. Maroondah Reservoir Park is down in Healesville and is one of those wildernesses that looks spectacular any time of the year.
In Winter, the rains fall and waters gush over the big river spillway. The azaleas and rhododendrons (try spelling that one without Google) are in full bloom in spring. And in autumn, most of the park breaks out in a crazy tapestry of red and amber foliage. Pro tip: Get your iPhone camera ready for the Rose Stairway. It’s an absolute stunner.
Maroondah Reservoir Park is part of an Aboriginal cultural landscape in the traditional Country of the Wurundjeri Peoples. Parks Victoria respects the deep and continuing connection that Wurundjeri Traditional Owners have to these lands and waters, and we recognise their ongoing role in caring for the Country.
The impressive 41-metre high dam wall offers a scenic lookout over formal gardens, forested slopes and the broad, peaceful reservoir lake. Construction on this great piece of engineering took place from 1920-1927, and the Maroondah catchment is still an important source of Melbourne’s water. You can still see the historic valve houses in the gardens, built in a classical domed style.
The gardens were created gradually after the completion of the wall and include a sundial and the stone-paved Rose Stairway lined with rose bushes and Golden Pencil Pines. The gardens feature towering native eucalypts as well as many exotic deciduous trees with beautiful Autumn colours. Picnic in the park amongst the old eucalypt stands or the exotic trees and play in the open grass areas.
The park features six rotundas, one shelter, six barbecues (gas and electric) as well as picnic tables scattered around the gardens, perfect for visitors to barbecue or sit and enjoy the scenery. If you're looking for a quieter spot, head for the area near the Watt's River Rotunda in Hendersons Picnic Area.
There are several easy and moderate walks around the park. First, take a short walk through the forest on the Maroondah Forest Track. Then, if you want a longer walk, you can follow the Henderson’s Hill Track up the slope for another 1.4km. From here, you can choose to extend your walk to Donnellys Weir in Yarra Ranges National Park.
If cycling is more your thing, ride your bike across the dam wall to Donnellys Weir and then challenge yourself to ride up to Mount St Leonard along with the start of the Bicentennial National Trail.
Walk to the bottom of the dam wall to observe the grandeur of the wall from below and then climb the Rose Steps (or walk the circular track to avoid the stairs) and walk across the top of the dam wall to view the vast reservoir and parkland.
When the dam overflows across the spillway once or twice a year, the Falls Lookout provides a spectacular view of the waterfall. Water can also cascade over the lower rockface when Melbourne Water intermittently releases the dam via the lower outlet.
The spillway waterfall is spectacular when it is running. Keep an eye out on the Parks Victoria Facebook page and Twitter, but if the Melbourne Water dam levels website says the dam is 100% full, then there's a good chance water is flowing into the spillway and over the waterfall.
Designed for the Melbourne International Exhibition in 1880, the Carlton Gardens houses 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, flowerbeds, Moreton Bay fig trees, palms and avenues lined with elms.
The Valley Of Liquidambers
Good name, eh? Liquidambars, FYI, are a species of American sweetgum, and as the name suggests, they look pretty darn fine in the Fall (that’s ‘autumn’ to you and me). Heathcote isn’t exactly on the radar of many day-tripping Melburnians, but it ought to be.
The food’s good, vineyards around every bend, and the hillsides come alive in autumn time, especially in the Valley. You’ll find it alongside McIvor Creek, near the centre of town. The perfect picnic spot.
If you're looking for a place to spend your lunch break that will give you a taste of autumn without having to travel too far outside the city, Fitzroy Gardens is a great option. Located just outside the central business district, these gardens have been designated as a historic site because of the mature elm trees that line its paths and put on a spectacular display of fall foliage every year. There are 26 hectares of gardens for you to explore, so go for a stroll or stay for a picnic on the grass.
Fitzroy Gardens, now a national heritage site, was established as a park in 1848. The landscape has a classic Victorian feel, with a lot of variety and depth. Extensive lawns and pathways are framed by towering elm trees and complemented by a variety of garden structures and colourful plantings.
The historic Cooks' Cottage and the Conservatory, designed in the style of a Spanish mission, feature breathtaking displays of flora. There are also many fountains and statues, as well as a miniature Tudor village and a carved sculpture of a tree called the Fairies' Tree.
Get your Cooks' Cottage tickets and learn about the area's attractions at the Fitzroy Gardens Visitor Centre.
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.
An ornamental lake is integrated into the landscaped gardens that reflect the canary yellow foliage in autumn.
Coolart Historic Area At Somers
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.
Royal Botanic Gardens
Obviously the Royal Botanic Gardens wouldn't be overlooked. During the month of March, the gardens' 50,000 plants and 6,000 tree species will produce a full spectrum of autumnal colours.
Though beautiful year-round, the gardens really come into their own in the fall, when the leaves change. You can find the most fallen leaves and the best photo ops in the Oak Lawn, so that's where you should go.
For over 170 years, the Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria, Melbourne Gardens has been an integral part of Melbourne's cultural life, beloved by locals and tourists alike. It's a beautiful place to visit, and it also serves as a valuable tool for teaching, researching, and growing plants.
Melbourne Gardens extends over 38 hectares and houses a collection of more than 8,500 species of plants from around the world, including amazing and diverse plant collections such as camellias, rainforest flora, cacti and succulents, roses, Californian species, herbs, perennials, cycads, plants from Southern China and, in the Rare and Threatened Species Collection, plants from south-eastern Australia.
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.
Less than an hour’s drive from the city, the gardens are open every day with free admittance. Stay at A Loft In The Mill Boutique Accommodation – A charming Tudor style bluestone replica of a 19th Century flour mill and Carriage house. They are located in Olinda in the heart of the Dandenong ranges.
The property offers a variety of individually decorated suites, many of which boast a fireplace. A Continental breakfast basket is provided. Perfect for a romantic weekend getaway.
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 area's abundant birdlife.
Seawinds Gardens At Arthurs Seat
There is a trail system that leads guests through both landscaped areas and natural areas teeming with wildlife. With its stunning panorama of Port Phillip Bay and collection of garden sculptures, this is a popular destination.
One hour and fifteen minutes from Melbourne, on the Mornington Peninsula, you'll find the 34-hectare Seawinds Gardens within Arthurs Seat State Park.
FAQs About Autumn Leaves In Melbourne
Autumn is one of the most beautiful seasons, with deciduous leaves changing colour to autumn's warm, crackly colours before dropping to the ground. So if you're keen to make the most of these fleeting seasons, here are the best parks and gardens in Victoria for you to visit to see the changing leaves.
You won’t have to travel far to enjoy Melbourne in its full Autumn 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. Don’t forget your camera!
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.