Located three kilometres north of Melbourne CBD, Princes Park is one of the most used inner suburban parks in Melbourne. Princes Park is crown land permanently reserved as a site for a public park. Facilities for range of sporting and recreational activities are available here. Park remains busy with joggers on fine weather days in Melbourne which covers an area of 39hectares, stretching 1.5km along the Royal Parade. Throughout its history, wide range of sporting clubs used the Park as their home ground. Carlton Football Club, Carlton Cricket Club, Princes Park Carlton Bowls Club and Princes Hill Tennis Club have been active since 19th century. Carlton Football Club’s home ground ‘Princes Park’ and headquarters, currently known as Ikon Park, is located at the centre of the park. This has been the home ground for Carlton Football club since 1897.
The park combines areas with established plantings and open space. 19th century plantings of elms, Moreton Bay Figs, and River Red Gums and later plantings of Canary Island Palms and Mahogany gums give it a unique appearance.
The 29km Capital City Trail which circles the city centre and some inner eastern and northern suburbs passes through the north of the park. A 3km running track circumferences the park. This track is also used for events like Parkville parkrun, Sri Chimnoy Princes Park Winter Running Festival, and Victorian Road Runners Princes Park Fun Run.
The park has Children’s playground, jogging and walking tracks, BBQ and Picnic facilities.
The Melbourne City Council as Committee of Management of the park is responsible for its management.
What you can do at the Park?
The park has tracks and other facilities for Walking, Jogging, Picnicking, dog walking, Cycling and also got a Children’s play area. Dog unleash area here is popular among the locals.
There is a large Children’s playground at the MacPherson Street entrance and the small playground alongside Bowen Crescent in the north of the park. BBQ and picnic facilities are provided near the playground at MacPherson Street.
A jogging track runs predominantly north-south around the perimeter of the park. At two points the jogging track joins the shared bicycle and pedestrian path running along Royal Parade.
Two shared bicycle and pedestrian paths run east-west across the park. The former railway which now forms part of the Capital City Trail is an important link to Royal Park to the west and Merri Creek to the east.
The Pond and the Princes Park Carlton Bowls Club are located at the northern side. The pond and surrounding landscape provide passive recreational opportunities. The bowls club has two turf greens, a clubhouse and private residence.
Princes Park has public toilets, one near the pond in the north of the park and one near the MacPherson Street Playground. Address: Princes Park Drive Carlton North, Located near playground and tennis club
Location: 200-590 Royal Parade, Carlton North VIC 3054
How to reach Princes Park by Public Transport?
Melbourne’s first Lieutenant Governor Charles La Trobe is credited for Melbourne’s enviable position as the Garden City. All inner suburban areas released during his time were bounded by parks. East Melbourne by Fitzroy Gardens, North Melbourne by Royal Park, South Yarra by the Domain and the Royal Botanical Gardens and Carlton by Princes Park and Carlton Gardens. Princes Park was part of the 2560 acres reserved for Royal Park, Melbourne Cemetery and the University of Melbourne.
In 1873, 97 acres, more or less, county of Bourke, parish of Jika Jika, City of Melbourne, commencing at the centre of the north eastern side of Cemetery Road west, with the eastern side of Sydney Road, was permanently reserved as Princes Park. The land was vested with Ministry of Lands and Melbourne City Council to be used ‘for the recreation and amusement of our subjects and people’.
Princes Park was used as a dumping ground for night soil by the city council in its early days to an extend that Park couldn’t take it anymore due to saturation. This was also a grazing ground for the locals. In 1867, Argus described it as an enclosed reserve covered with trees, mostly of a stunted and crooked growth and small patches of very short grass. It adds, “In most favourable season it wouldn’t feed a sheep per acre”.
In 1879, a carriage drive and footpath were built around the perimeter and trees and shrubs were planted at the park. It was evident that the original intention was not to layout the whole of the ground as a park, but merely to make a drive and a walk on each side of the cow pasture.
In 1880, Melbourne General Cemetery was expanded carving out of Princes Park and the size of Princes Park was reduced to 39 hectares.
In 1885, the brick caretaker’s cottage was constructed, and trees planted. A strip of land from the northern end of park was used for the construction of the North Carlton Railways.
As per the Leader pushed on 17th January 1891, ill designed and poorly managed was the best description for Melbourne’s public parks. The Newspaper wrote, “Princes Park is not any better. It is an impropriety to call it even a park. For it appears it was the intention of the designer to form a cow pasture.”
Carlton Union club of cricket enthusiasts which was constituted in 1864 with Sir Redmond Barry as President, used the five-acre area between the University paddock and the Princes Park as their ground. In 1878, an oval was established in the southern section the park. Later the Cricket club had moved to Carlton Recreation ground in Princes park. The newly merged Carlton Football Club and Cricket clubs were granted permissive occupancy of the land in 1895. A grandstand was erected here and in 1897, the ground was opened for the football season.
A lawn bowling club was established in Princes Park in 1886 and land was granted to the newly established Princes Hill Bowling Club on the north side of the North Carlton Railway Line. In October 1904, a bowling ring and a croquet lawn was opened at the Princes Park.
Council removed boundary fences around the park in 1918 facilitating free movement. In 1925 Melbourne City Council constructed public tennis courts in Princes Park and a brick pavilion was erected in 1926. In 1952, Victoria Tennis Club leased the courts.
In August 2019, a hundred-year-old tree which fell over a bitumen footpath between Royal Parade and the park’s gravel running track, killing a 36-year-old Reservoir woman