Accessing Melbourne
Chapter 14
La Trobe's Cottage
Charles Joseph La Trobe, Superintendent of the Port Phillip District and the first
Governor of Victoria. La Trobe's Cottage was Victoria's first Government House
and one of Melbourne's oldest buildings. It epitomises Melbourne's early
domestic architecture. The cottage was originally located at Jolimont on a large
tract of land and was erected in 1839 consisting of a prefabricated two room
structure manufactured in London. The dining room, erected in 1840, was the
first of many additions made during La Trobe's tenure. The surviving Cottage
has been dismantled, restored and reconstructed several times but does
contain many of La Trobe's personal effects. Access is limited by steps in.
The Royal Botanic Gardens (RBG)
The Royal Botanic Gardens (open 7.30am   dusk, 9252 2300, www.rbgmelb are about 1.5km south east of the CBD comprising 36.4ha of manicured
lawns, formal garden beds, displays of exotic plants and stunning vistas of the city.
Observatory Gate is the new formal entry to the RBG, it opened in March 1999.
Consisting of a Visitors Centre, Gardens Shop (open 9am 5pm Mon Fri, 10am 
5.00pm Sat&Sun, 9252 2300) and Observatory Cafe (open 7am 5pm daily), it
includes Melbourne's refurbished 1860s Italianate Observatory Buildings (no
The Visitors Centre is where you book a tour; Garden Highlights, Special Interest,
audioguide or Aboriginal Heritage Walk; view a series of botanical displays, or hire a
wheelchair ($20 deposit). There is an accessible unisex toilet inside and another by
the side of the building, off the pathway leading into the gardens.
The site for the Gardens was reserved in 1846, six years after the foundation of
Melbourne, by Superintendent of the Port Phillip District, Charles La Trobe. The
location, on the south bank of the Yarra, was well suited to the purpose. The
Gardens embrace a valley which faces north catching the sun but involving quite
steep slopes.
Many curators have influenced the gardens development over time but probably
the most influential was William Guilfoyle (1873 1909) who reorganised the
gardens by establishing sweeping lawns, laying wide, curving paths and
transforming the valley swamp into an ornamental lake. These influences are seen
today and he achieved his aim of maintaining a scientific balance with expectations
for a popular garden and scenic views resembling landscape paintings.

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