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Fitzroy Gardens and stormwater harvesting

Fitzroy Gardens master plan implementation

Water security, climate change, the need to upgrade visitor facilities and the management of heritage-listed features are some of the issues on which the community was asked to comment during a 2010 consultation process to consider future options for Fitzroy Gardens.

The Fitzroy Gardens are Melbourne’s premier gardens. The gardens’ renowned historic icons include significant elm avenues, the Conservatory, Cooks’ Cottage, the scarred tree, rotunda and band pavilion. Other highlights include the famous River God fountain, the Rill and Fern Gully, and the childhood treasures of the Tudor Village and Fairies’ tree.

Since the last master plan was developed in 1996, new issues have arisen for the gardens, as well as opportunities to create additional parkland.

Options for change were  outlined in the Fitzroy Gardens master plan review discussion paper with final directions considered by Council’s Future Melbourne in February 2011.  Council endorsed the master plan (PDF, 10.6MB).

The confirmed master plan changes include:

  • installation of an underground stormwater collection tank 
  • demolition of surplus depot infrastructure and consolidation of the garden depot to the western side 
  • modification to the curtilage of Cook’s Cottage, including removal of the current ticket booth, removal of the millrace and change in location of the fence at the east end of the cottage garden 
  • construction of a visitor centre and creation of new garden area on the Eastern side of the current depot area
  • a new depot on the western side of the site.

Master plan implementation commenced in August 2011 with the demolition of the current depot and works to install the  stormwater harvesting infrastructure. For the duration of the works, gardens depot staff will be temporarily located off site.

Stormwater harvesting

The new garden area will include a biofiltration area to clean the stormwater, a continuation of the water course which runs through the centre of the Gardens, lawns, pathways and new plantings. 

The stormwater harvesting project at Fitzroy Gardens will be one of the largest ever undertaken by the City of Melbourne and is part of a suite of initiatives undertaken in partnership with the Federal Government in East Melbourne. It will see recycled water replace over 121 million litres of potable water per year.

Visitor centre and new garden area

In August 2012, Council’s Future Melbourne Committee endorsed the final plans for the visitor centre and new garden area in Fitzroy Gardens which will be established on the east side of the site once the current works on the stormwater harvesting and re-use infrastructure is complete.

View plans for the new visitor centre and garden area:

New garden area

The new garden area is a continuation of the water “rill” which originally existed in the gardens, and will provide an informal pathway link into the rest of the Gardens.  A new lawn will be created between the rill and the new visitor centre. The rill area will feature fern gully plants native to Victoria. Large canopy specimen trees will be planted in the lawn area and around the visitor centre.

Visitor centre

The Fitzroy Gardens Visitor Centre will provide information, interpretive display material and act as a base for a range of programs and walks in Fitzroy Gardens. It includes a small café area. It has been designed to include a number of energy reduction  features including a “green wall” of climbers on the west side to modify the micro-climate temperature levels in the visitor centre and a system for circulating natural air for cooling in the summer, which will reduce the need for air conditioning.

Treated stormwater from the tank under the new garden area will also be used in the public and staff toilets.

Construction of both the new depot and the visitor centre commenced in January 2013 and is near completion. Landscaping works for the new garden area are currently underway and the visitor centre is expected to open by the end of 2014.

For further information, please contact the City of Melbourne on 03 9658 9658 or email