The 7ha Darling Gardens at Clifton Hill is bound by North Terrace to the north, South Terrace to the south, Gold Street to the west and Hoddle Street on east. Located close to Queens Parade in Clifton Hill, the park is mostly frequented by joggers and children accompanied by parents. The park has designated dog off leash areas at the north-eastern section of the park and a children’s playground located at the north western entrance. As per the council by – Laws, Dogs must be kept on leash at least ten metres of the children’s playground, BBQ and picnic facilities. Situated just five kilometres from the Melbourne CBD, the park has expansive lawn areas, mature trees and facilities for picnic and small gatherings. The site is Crown land permanently reserved as a gardens and recreation reserve.
National tree register has two trees from the garden on its register. A holm oak (quercus ilex) and an English elm (ulmus procera). The English elm is more than 120 years old. The Garden is crossed by a network of pathways that converge at the centre where a bandstand is located. The barbecue and picnic areas are located at the mid-eastern section of the park. Close to it, is the Maternal and Child Health Centre.
Site for a public garden was temporarily reserved in 1863 and was permanently reserved as a site for public gardens and recreation purposes in 1866. The reserve came to be known as Darling Gardens by 1864, named after then Victorian Governor, Sir Charles Henry Darling.
During the 1870’s and 80’s, the site was let for grazing. In the 1870’s the reserve was also used as a dumping ground for night soil.
Development of Queens Parade as a shopping precinct and extension of the tramline to Queens Parade in 1887 gave added importance to the Garden. The area around the garden was mostly affluent residential compared to the rest of Collingwood.
Path layout and avenue tree planting were initiated between 1880 and 1890. Some of the trees and hedges were planted in 1882 and 1896 in the garden. In 1890 and 1891 Darling Gardens found mentions in major newspapers published from Melbourne for a murder that took place here. In March 1891, a man named John Wilson was executed at the Melbourne Gaol for the murder of his girlfriend, Estella Leah Marks in the Darling Gardens on 25th January 1890.
Extensive improvements were undertaken by Collingwood council at the park from 1905. Guilfoyle, curator of Melbourne Botanical garden was consulted on new plantings to beautify the park. A decision to develop an inner reserve as a park, was taken in 1905 and major plantings were undertaken in 1906 and 1907. The bandstand was built in 1906. Two air raid trenches were dug in the garden during the second world war.
In 1954, the council revoked the permanent reservation of the gardens and site for an infant welfare centre was temporarily reserved and the remainder of the site was temporarily reserved for a public garden. Clifton Hill Maternal and Child health centre was constructed in 1957 and it was further extended in 1964. The remainder of the site was permanently reserved as a site for public gardens in 1964.
The bandstand at the gardens was demolished in the 1940’s. In 1976, a bandstand was reconstructed as a replica of former bandstand from photographs. The architects for the reconstructed structure were Daryl Jackson & Evan Walker Architects Pty Ltd. The reconstructed bandstand retains the stone surround from the original structure.
Address: Darling Gardens Gold Street, Clifton Hill
Facilities at the park
Public toilets, playground, barbeque, picnic tables, drinking fountains and sheltered areas.
Toilet block is near the south eastern entrance to the Gardens.
The bandstand or the rotunda at the park can accommodate 15 people standing. The rotunda which is ideal for small ceremonies can be booked for events.
You will need to apply for a permission to use the park if any of these are true: if you plan to erect infrastructure like marquees at the park ; have more than 50 attendees; catered by an external supplier; you are charging the participants a fee to attend or requires a specific location inside the park. The park can also be booked for wedding ceremonies.
Details of booking are available here: https://www.yarracity.vic.gov.au/facilities/darling-gardens-rotunda