Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Melbourne with a toddler: Fitzroy Gardens, Melbourne Museum and Melbourne Zoo

My little boy (who's now almost two) and I enjoyed a week in Melbourne recently, and not only was I pleasantly surprised at what an agreeable travel companion he was (although many have since suggested it is probably in his genes to love travelling!), I was also happy that we found so many very child-friendly attractions in Melbourne. I've visited Melbourne frequently but usually for conferences, work, shopping and eating, none of which (well, except the last) are particularly interesting for a nearly two-year-old boy. 

It started out well when one of my lovely Melbourne friends suggested we meet in Fitzroy Gardens, a huge park very close (just a block away!) to where we were staying. A huge park and home to Captain Cook's Cottage, Fitzroy Gardens also has a Fairies Tree and a model Tudor village, but we had so much fun exploring the rest of the park that we didn't even make it to them (that, and following the signs didn't lead us to them - or were we too busy chatting?!).

Fitzroy Gardens has a few less flowers now
Fitzroy Gardens is also home to some gorgeous ponds, lakes and fountain areas, but I find I have no photos of these, and other parents of toddlers will know why - I spent any moments close to these water areas trying to make sure my little boy didn't decide to go swimming in them (especially with all those ducks - almost close enough to touch!).

Fitzroy Gardens has lots of big sticks. Yippee!
The following day the two of us went alone to the Melbourne Museum, a short tram ride away. I was a little too excited perhaps at seeing Phar Lap (and excitedly told a friend the following day, being rather disappointed when I realised that she grew up in England and didn't have a clue who Phar Lap was. Obviously that means most of my readers won't either so I will refer you to the Wikipedia entry on Phar Lap to find out about this famous Australian horse). Fortunately my little boy was pleased about it, yelling "horse, horse!" a little too loudly and posing for photos next to it.

The main galleries at the Melbourne Museum are fantastic, and I managed to have a quick look through most of them, before it was obvious that we needed to head to the Children's Gallery. This is a great (and large) section of the museum, with indoor and outdoor areas, full of interesting activities for kids and especially good for toddlers, something that's rare to find. The most depressing part for me was standing on the scales to find out how many wombats are equivalent to my weight; the fun part was playing outside with hula hoops and quoits.

Confession: I took this photo while the needle was still rising ...
Our final toddler outing was to the Melbourne Zoo (as a bonus, our membership of the Perth Zoo got us in here for free). Zoos are really the ideal place for toddlers and this was a great one, for us adults too - not too big to get around, lots of varied enclosures, and a really fantastic section called the Trail of the Elephants which wandered through elephants, orang-utans and more in an area designed to look like a southeast Asian village, including markets, huts and all kinds of cultural markers as well as the animals themselves. It was fantastic and my little boy and his friend adored it all.

Trail of the Elephants in the Melbourne Zoo
Although I was a little concerned about how travelling alone with a toddler would go, it turned out fabulously and now I'm on a campaign to find cheap holidays so we can do it again and again! The only problem is my little boy still asks to go to his "Melbourne house" and he doesn't quite understand that we can't just pop over there for the day. But I figure if we travel more and more he'll figure all that out too, right?!


  1. Enjoying exploring your blog Amanda and thanks for the very informative, enthusiastic talk you held last night at Victoria Park library. Looking forward to meeting you again! Thanks !

    1. Thanks so much Elaine, glad you enjoyed both the talk and the blog. Hope to see you again soon!

  2. oh Fitzroy gardens is a lovely spot... I must take my kids there again soon! Thanks for the reminder!

    1. Ha ha you're welcome Kate!! It was lovely and so close to our apartment so it was perfect. I imagine your girls might like the Fairies Tree perhaps.

  3. This looks like a delightful zoo for family oriented outings.

    1. You're right Samuel, it really is a lovely zoo, a great place to spend a day.


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