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Queen Victoria Gardens (Central Melbourne)




The Queen Victoria Gardens are part of the Domain Parklands, taking up a peaceful triangle of land just across St Kilda Road from the Arts Centre Melbourne.

Its most famous feature is the Floral Clock, but venture further and you’ll find ornamental ponds, monuments to Queen Victoria and King Edward VII, the Janet Lady Clarke rotunda, numerous flower beds and sculptures.

Review:


This is a lovely area which holds a range of interesting features for the family. Near St Kilda Road there are nice areas of lawn, a range of different trees, some small landscaped gardens.

This leads to a lovely pond with small waterfall, waterbirds and nice landscaping around the sides and middle of the pond.

Melbourne CBD Public and Street Art

There is another pond a small distance away. Next to the pond is The Genie, a fantasy play sculpture for children by Tom Bass.

Slightly higher up the hill is the Queen Victoria monument and the Janet Clarke Memorial which has seats. Around the Gardens are a number of shady seats with lovely outlooks plus a water tap.

What other sculptures can you find? Apart from The Genie, there is a head of Hercules, Apollo of the Belvedere, Pathfinder (shows an Olympic Hammer thrower in action), the Phoenix (a winged figure rising above a pond), Water Children (shows playing children at the top of a stream) and the Water Nymph in one of the ponds.

Along St Kilda Road to the south is the Floral Clock which can be a riot of colour in season plus a Commemoration to Edward VII (1901 - 1910).

Photos:




Sculptures and Monuments:


Floral Clock
Melbourne CBD Public and Street Art

Situated in the Queen Victoria Gardens facing St Kilda Road, the floral clock, which has a diameter of over 9m, was presented to the city by the Swiss consul Curt Malning as a goodwill gesture on behalf of the watchmakers of Switzerland. containing The clock contains over 7,000 flowering plants which are changed twice yearly. The clock's hands are driven by a motor housed in a concrete casing in the centre of the dial. The floral clock was unveiled by the lord mayor, Councillor I.F. Beaurepaire, on 4 November 1966.

Location: Near the intersection of Southbank Boulevard Avenue and St Kilda Road.

The Pathfinder (The Hammer Thrower)
Melbourne CBD Public and Street Art

Bronze sculpture by John Edward Robinson (1974)

Mining giant Conzinc Riotinto (now known as Rio Tinto) commissioned Robinson's The Pathfinder, which they planned to install in their proposed new building. When the building failed to go ahead, the 'dynamic' sculpture of the hammer thrower in action was placed on long-term loan with the City of Melbourne, which sited the bronze in the Queen Victoria Gardens. The hammer held by the figure has been stolen several times and duly returned or replaced by another.

Location: On the west side of the Gardens.

Water Children
Melbourne CBD Public and Street Art

Bronze sculpture by John Edward Robinson (c. 1970)

Water Children comprises two small bronze figures - a girl and boy who lean over a stream that meanders down to the lake. The girl is kneeling on her hands and knees, the boy lying down, one foot in the air, one hand scooping water. The sculpture was commissioned by Conzinc Riotinto (now known as Rio Tinto) but was purchased by the City of Melbourne in 1973 as a part of its re-landscaping of the gardens.

The Genie
Melbourne CBD Public and Street Art

Bronze sculpture by Tom Bass (1973)

In 1971, sculptor Peter Corlett presented the concept of a children's play sculpture to Melbourne City Council. The commission for this sculpture went to Bass. The Genie's design is a synthesis of Western and Eastern art forms, and combines the characteristics of an Egyptian cat with a lion. It was designed to complement its natural surroundings, while still being able to attract the attention of children. Its form and textured surface are intended to encourage play and to extend children's experience of art by inviting direct physical contact. In part, its inscription reads: 'The Genie - A fantasy play sculpture for children'.

Location: Beside the path on the northern side of the Gardens.

The Water Nymph
Melbourne CBD Public and Street Art

Bronze sculpture by Paul Montford (1925)

Water Nymph is a bronze statue of a young woman, with raised arms stroking her hair. She kneels on a round base, which is set in an ornamental lake. This is a classic image of the period. The nymph is linked to age-old representations of the mermaid and the siren, which symbolise female sexuality.

Location: Children's Pond in the middle of the Gardens.

Frog
Melbourne CBD Public and Street Art

Bronze sculpture by John Olsen (2015)

A super-sized but thin frog sculpture which is cast in bronze and towers over two metres tall above the pond. The sculpture references the more than 200 frog species that call Australia home, from our rainforests and mountains to our deserts and urban areas. But frogs are under threat from pollution and changes to their habitats: they absorb water and chemicals through their permeable skin, and are particularly sensitive to agricultural pesticides, herbicides, fungicides and heavy metals.

Location: Children's Pond in the middle of the Gardens.

The Phoenix
Melbourne CBD Public and Street Art

Bronze and sheet copper statue by Yrsa Von Leister (1973)

Baroness Yrsa Von Leister's rough-hewn winged figure stands some three metres above the waters of a pond in Queen Victoria Gardens. Originally associated with ancient Egyptians' longings for immortality, in the phoenix in Christianity has long been linked to resurrection and everlasting life. Von Leister sculpted the symbolic figure for the Roman Catholic archdiocese of Melbourne following the 40th International Eucharistic Congress, held in Melbourne in 1973. Archbishop Cardinal Knox then donated the work to the Melbourne City Council for the support it had shown during the congress.

Location: Children's Pond in the middle of the Gardens.

Queen Victoria Memorial
Melbourne CBD Public and Street Art

White marble and granite sculpture by James White (1907)

Victoria was crowned Queen on 28 June 1838, when she was just 18 years of age. During her reign the British Empire reached its apogee, with vast colonies abroad and great industrial expansion and reforms at home. Notably, it was Victoria that changed the role of the monarchy to a symbolic one, the business of government being left to parliament.

News of the Queen's death in 1901 saw a wave of public mourning through Australia. In Melbourne, a proposal for a memorial was raised with some urgency. More than £7000 was raised for the memorial through public subscription. There was controversy over the conduct of the committee in selecting James White and over his insistence that the marble be sculpted in Italy, rather than in Australia. However, the memorial was unveiled on a raised mound in the Gardens on Empire Day 1907.

Location: In the north east corner of the Gardens.

King Edward VII Memorial
Melbourne CBD Public and Street Art

Bronze statue with basalt and granite pedestal by Edgar Bertram Mackennal (1920)

The statue of Edward VII depicts a heroic king in the full dress uniform of a British field marshal. The eldest son of Queen Victoria, Edward was rebellious into his adulthood and the Queen showed her displeasure by denying him any governmental position. Despite his lack of experience, Edward successfully negotiated England's conciliation with France, earning him the title of 'the peacemaker', and his social reforms made him popular among his subjects.

The desire to create a monument to Edward in Melbourne took hold immediately following his death in 1910. Mackennal was commissioned to undertake the work on a tender of £1867, but the statue eventually cost three times that price. The outbreak of World War I delayed the statue's production, but casting in London commenced at the war's end. It was unveiled in 1920.

Location: On the southern side of the Gardens.

Janet Lady Clarke Memorial
Melbourne CBD Public and Street Art

Concrete and stamped copper rotunda by Herbert Black (1913)

In 1873, Janet Snodgrass married wealthy pastoralist William Clarke, who was made Australia's first baronet in 1882. The Clarkes were generous philanthropists, with sympathy for a great many causes. Their wealth and social standing made them influential, and they used this to their advantage to raise awareness of and funds for various local causes.

Lady Clarke sat on many committees, including the Women's National League, Women's Hospital Committee and the Talbot Colony for Epileptics. She was particularly active in supporting education. While Lady Clarke became the inaugural president of the National Council of Women of Victoria in 1902 and of the Australian Women's National League in 1904, she was not a supporter women's suffrage.

Lady Clarke died in 1909, and upon her death a memorial fund was established. Herbert Black's design for a Grecian-style rotunda won the public competition. It can accommodate 100 musicians and offers a quiet place to contemplate the view across Queen Victoria Gardens. In part, the inscription on the rotunda reads: 'A tribute to the memory of a high example of beneficence and public spirit'.

Farnex Hercules
Melbourne CBD Public and Street Art

Marble bust with granite pedestal (1780)

This marble bust of Farnex Hercules is a replica of Farnese Hercules, held by the Vatican Museum in Rome. Hercules is represented as the classical powerful hero. Half god and half human, he was the most famous hero of ancient times and the most loved. He was born of an illicit affair between Zeus and a mortal woman, Alcmene, and this union brought tremendous hardship to Hercules at the hand of Hera, wife of Zeus and Queen of the Gods. Hercules' story is one of strength, courage and prodigious deeds. Because he endured all hardships visited upon him, at his death he was taken to Mt Olympus to live with the gods.

Farnex Hercules was donated to the city by well-known solicitor, politician, newspaper proprietor and educationalist Theodore Fink. He acquired the bust and a replica of the Belvedere Apollo as gifts to the people of Melbourne, when visiting Rome; the works were unveiled in 1928. Fink's donation marked the end of a tradition of placing copies of classical statuary in Melbourne's public gardens, a tradition that took root in the 1860s. Most were removed by the 1930s.

Location: North west entrance to the Gardens.

Belvedere Apollo
Melbourne CBD Public and Street Art

Marble and granite bust by unknown artist

This marble bust is a replica of that found in Rome's Vatican Museum. Known as the Greek god of the sun, Apollo would harness four horses to his chariot each day to drive the sun across the sky. In art, the youthful Apollo is traditionally seen as the epitome of beauty, but this god also has associations with music, prophecy and medicine.

Belvedere Apollo was donated to the city by well-known solicitor, politician, newspaper proprietor and educationist Theodore Fink. He acquired this bust and also a replica of the Farnex Hercules for the people of Victoria when he was visiting Rome.

Location: North west entrance to the Gardens.

Domed Drinking Fountain
Melbourne CBD Public and Street Art

Marble and granite drinking fountain by unknown Artist (c. 1936)

Little is known about the origins of this domed drinking fountain. It bears Ottoman-style motifs but no longer carries its original taps.

Location: Beside the path on the northern side of the Gardens.


Address | Contact


100 St Kilda Road,  Melbourne 3004, Victoria, Australia. View Map Map opens in new browser window
Telephone: 
Map: 2F Ref: H8



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