Planning for the future of Royal Park

15 November 2023

There are many reasons to love Royal Park. It’s our city’s biggest open space spanning 169 hectares.

It serves regional and local sports teams and wildlife lovers, fitness junkies and picnickers, horticulture devotees and playground adventurers. 
It‘s home to a rich tapestry of native flora and fauna, including ancient river red gums, the picturesque Trin Warren Tam-boore wetlands, and many birds and other wildlife.

There’s a range of recreational activities for the community, with walking and cycling paths, and even a golf course.  
It’s not just a park; it’s a sanctuary for relaxation and exercise right in the heart of the city. 

And we want to hear what you love about it and your vision for its future, as we carry out a review of the Royal Park Master Plan. 

An aerial photo of Royal Park with the Melbourne city skyline in the background.
Royal Park is a green oasis right on the doorstep to the city

For Environment Portfolio Lead Councillor Rohan Leppert “Royal Park has been my favourite part of our city” since moving to Melbourne.

“While I love the opportunities and life of a large metropolis, I’m definitely one who needs access to nature to keep everything in perspective and to recharge. Unlike the formality of Melbourne’s Royal Botanic Gardens, Royal Park is a vast expanse of native vegetation and landscapes and, for me, that makes it the perfect place to get some respite,” Cr Leppert said. 

“The city skyline is either perfectly framed by the Royal Park grasslands or entirely hidden from view behind expansive native vegetation, where the park becomes a serene place despite its close proximity to the centre of the city. 

“I am constantly discovering new life and experiences in the park and will never not be fascinated by the multitude ways that Melburnians love this place.” 

And it’s these multitude ways that we want to hear about. We want you to help shape the future of Royal Park for the next 20 years. What do you want Royal Park to be, look and feel like in the future?  

Three people with shovels planting trees in Royal Park
Cr Rohan Leppert (right) plants trees in Royal Park with David Callow and Matthew Forster

While Royal Park stands as a testament to City of Melbourne’s commitment to green urbanism, it is not immune to the challenges posed by a growing population and a developing city. So it is essential to lay out a comprehensive plan that ensures the park’s continued vitality and relevance in the coming decades. 

“We are refreshing the Royal Park Master Plan to ensure our ongoing management reflects Royal Park’s significance, its diverse values and Melburnians’ aspirations for our largest and most diverse park,” Cr Leppert said.

The updated master plan will guide the future priorities, actions and management of Royal Park over the next 20 years.  
“The 1984 and 1997 master plans are examples of highly successful public policy and they remain relevant today, but Melbourne’s population has boomed in the intervening years, the park is now on the Victorian Heritage Register, climate change poses ever more challenging questions about the resilience of the plant and animal species in the park, and of course we have a duty to empower Traditional Owner leadership over land management,” Cr Leppert said. 

“For all these reasons, now is the time to refresh the Master plan and embark on a once-in-a-generation opportunity to confirm that we’ve got the settings right and give Melburnians confidence that the park will be managed well, into the future.” 

An adult riding a bike with a child on the back. Both are wearing helmets and riding along a path in a park.
We’re asking the community to tell us all the ways you use the park and what you’d like to see it become in the future

These are sentiments shared by Secretary of Friends of Royal Park, Kaye Oddie. 

“Royal Park is an environmental and social asset to our community,” Kaye said. 

“It has been wonderful to see the transformation of Royal Park since the 1980s, when it was mostly open areas with sports fields and red brick toilet blocks, returning it to its original open grassy woodland landscape character. 

“Rising awareness and appreciation of the natural environment has seen the park revegetated with indigenous trees, shrubs, low-growing plants and grasses, bringing back biodiversity and habitat. 

“The Royal Park Master Plan review will allow us to responsibly plan for the next 20 plus years,” she said.

Historically, Royal Park was occupied and managed by Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung people for thousands of generations, and is culturally significant in the Aboriginal history of Melbourne. 
It was first declared open for public recreational use in 1854. Since then, Royal Park has evolved into an iconic space, beloved by Melburnians of all ages and backgrounds. 

“We know a lot about Royal Park; we’ve been managing it for a long time. We’ve done a lot of recent work to understand some issues in greater depth, and we are very interested to hear from Melburnians to validate or challenge our findings,” Cr Leppert said. 

“That’s why we’ve released a discussion paper, to put forward some of the contemporary challenges in park management and see what Melburnians think about them.  
“On a warm day, there are parts of the park that are heaving with people. In others there may be conflicts between walkers, cyclists, dogs and golf carts. The darkness of the park has contributed to the park being Melbourne’s most biodiverse place, but the perceptions and reality of safety are also a primary concern. We want to understand Melburnians’ attitudes to all of these issues and more, and I encourage everyone to read the paper and tell us exactly what you think.” 

The revised master plan will address everything from Aboriginal cultural significance, caring for nature and the park experience to parking, roads and transport. 

Royal Park Pop-Up

Come along and meet our Parks and City Greening team and have your say on the future of Royal Park. 

  • Wednesday 15 November 4pm to 7pm at Royal Park Train Station, Poplar Road, Parkville 
  • Saturday 18 November 11am-2pm at Nature Play, Flemington Road, Parkville 
  • Sunday 19 November 10am-1pm at Park Street, Parkville 
  • Sunday 19 November 2.30-5.30pm The Avenue, Parkville 
  • Saturday 2 December 9am-12pm at Trin Warren Tamboore Wetlands, Oak Street, Parkville 

Or visit Participate Melbourne to take our survey and have your say. 

Fun facts about Royal Park 

  1. Did you know we’re trialing the use of sensors on our Nature Playground to understand the way the park is used over time and to identify any opportunities for improvement. The basket swing is the most popular equipment with more than 100 people using it each day. 
  2. The Trin Warren Tam-boore wetland has a stormwater recycling system which cleans and stores stormwater from surrounding areas to irrigate Royal Park. 
  3. Royal Park is the spiritual home of women’s sport in Melbourne, with the heritage-listed Women’s Dressing Pavilion at Poplar Oval. It’s also home to regional sports not played elsewhere in the city, including lacrosse, swordplay, baseball and rugby union. 
  4. We’re re-establishing a colony of unique insect species currently under threat in Melbourne. In mid-2022, we released 25 male and 25 female Larupuna matchstick grasshoppers at 10 sites in Royal Park. The native flightless insects were studied by researchers this year and were found to have become established at 8 out of the 10 sites. This is just one of many projects undertaken by the council to boost biodiversity and species richness in Melbourne. 

Share this story

You may also like
Guide to recycling and waste in the City of Melbourne

Guide to recycling and waste in the City of Melbourne

Imagine living in a zero-waste city. We’ve got an ambitious strategy to reduce, collect and process and waste in innovative ways across the City of Melbourne, working in collaboration with businesses and community members. The most powerful thing all of us can do to...

Guide to waste-free shopping at Queen Victoria Market

Guide to waste-free shopping at Queen Victoria Market

Bring your reusable containers and bags to Queen Victoria Market to check off your whole shopping list, including meat, fish, cheese, antipasti, wine, olive oil, grains, fruit, vegies and even shampoo.  More and more Melburnians are changing the way they do their...

RCYCL is a perfect fit for the planet

RCYCL is a perfect fit for the planet

As fashion designers and doyens frock up and flock to the PayPal Melbourne Fashion Festival, one Melbourne business is enabling us to change the way we use, reuse and recycle clothing. What do you do with last season’s taffeta double-bow midi dress...

Subscribe to our newsletter

Keep up with what's happening in the City of Melbourne by subscribing to the Melbourne newsletter.

You have successfully subscribed!