The Victorian Government has committed $5 million to begin planning a new nature and science precinct at Melbourne’s iconic Royal Botanic Gardens. 

Under the plan, the original Herbarium building, built in 1934, will be fully restored and expanded to include a plant identification service.  

The much beloved children’s garden will also be expanded, and the Great Melbourne Telescope returned to its home at the Melbourne Observatory.

The government estimates that the proposed project would see an estimated increase in visitors from 1.9 million to 2.4 million by 2023 and increase school student participation by 50 per cent.

This redevelopment would also allow for some of the treasures from the State Botanical Collection to be shared with the public for the first time, helping preserve the collection for future generations.

The collection is currently home to more than 1.5 million specimens collected over the past 500 years – including a recent discovery of a plant, hand-collected by Charles Darwin in 1832 during his famous voyage on H.M.S. Beagle.

The National Herbarium of Victoria now joins a small and prestigious list of international herbaria holding collections made by Darwin on this voyage.

The Darwin specimen joins the State Botanical Collection’s other famous treasures such as one of the banksias collected by Joseph Banks at Botany Bay, Ludwig Leichardt specimens from northern Australia, and plants from Africa gathered by David Livingstone.

Minister for Environment Lily D’Ambrosio announced funding for a feasibility study earlier this year. The feasibility study will establish the scope and design for the new precinct and conclude in November 2019, before the expected start of early works on the Herbarium in early 2020.

Page last updated: 27/07/20