The Tan (a loop around Royal Botanical Gardens) 3.8km

The Tan Track, or The Tan for short, is an off-road 3,827km long recreational circular trail in central Melbourne. Inside The Tan are Melbourne’s Royal Botanic Gardens and the State of Victoria’s Government House. And Sydney Myer Music Bowl for outdoor concerts and the King’s Domain among others.

Today, the weather forecast was for increasing cloud and likely rain from around midday. I decided to challenge the weather Gods and by 9am walk from home to and from The Tan for at least one lap.

I started off by walking to the offical “start” and “end” point, not far from Swan Bridge which I had to cross anyway.

How do I know that these are offical start and end points? Well, the sign to the lower left indicates the full distance and…


…and on the other side of the sign you will see this. Aaahhh…


The map of King’s Domain below shows the streets making up the parameters of the area.

Clockwise, The Tan follows Alexandra Avenue in parallel, the unnamed street on the map running along Yarra River. Then The Tan gets a bit boring by being a wide sidewalk along Anderson Street. On Domain Road, The Tan follows the inner most path on the map towards St Kilda Road back to Alexandra Avenue.


Another sign along The Tan has a rundown of its history, which I will not repeat in this post.


Back to the start of The Tan, off Alexandra Avenue, and this Tuesday midmorning there are few people on the track. Usually, you find plenty of joggers and mummies with prammies and dog walkers and the odd cyclist. And people like me who just walk The Tan for as many laps as you feel.


At the corner of Alexandra Avenue and Anderson Road, there is an entrance to the Royal Botanic Gardens. Let’s walk in there as I want to show you something.


You see, some 200 meters in is this lovely tea house called The Terrace. Perfect for a break, in particular on a day much warmer and sunnier than today.


Still not convinced…? Well, maybe the view from the terrazza may change your mind. I arrived just at its opening time, 9.45am in winter, so no action yet. See footnote for complete business hours.


If you don’t want to spend money at the tea house, you can just sit down on any of the many benches facing the pond. Eating and/or drinking anything that you may have brought with you. These particular benches are halfway between the entrance and the tea house.


Anderson Street, as noted earlier, is the least interesting part of The Tan loop. Although on the other side of the sidewalk is a fence and beyond that the Royal Botanical Gardens. It looked like the below today.


If the Royal Botanic Garden’s tea house is not your cup of tea (excuse the pun…), there is Cafe Domain. The cafe is across the street from The Tan on Domain Road. You will soon see a short row of shops when you round the corner from Anderson Street.

I have ventured to Cafe Domain myself many times. Good coffee. Nice spot. The breakfasts seem popular although I have not road tested any of them myself.


Along Domain Road on The Tan, some Royal Botanic Garden buildings come into view. Not sure what the building to the right is used for but assume for garden upkeeps.


The main entrance to the Royal Botanic Garden off Domain Road is somewhat disappointing and… dull. There is a coffee shop in there too where I had my cuppa once and once only. No return business from me. There is also an observatory but I haven’t been inside of it.

Moving right along, not much to see here…


…except if you turn around from where I took the previous picture. Across the street is the Shrine of Remembrance.

A pretty impressive building wouldn’t you say? You can walk in and up to the balconies when the shrine is open. No charge although you can make a donation.

I have walked up and down those stairs in front of the shrine many times. Carrying a 10kg backpack. All in preparation for walking the Camino last year. It worked.


In the end, most of The Tan looks like this. A wide path consisting of compacted sand.

And then I finished my lap. 55 minutes according to the sign. My one and only lap today. The clouds were now rolling in and I better get out of here before the rain starts.


I did encounter a few drops of rain before I arrived back home. Later that afternoon, there was a lot more wet.

Anyway, The Tan is a great, central and lovely loop that one can do for as many laps as one feels. Obviously, you can also start and stop anywhere.

Again, during my Camino practice, I walked The Tan three times from home and back again. With my backpack. Just to get the distance right.

If you haven’t done/walked/jogged/cycled The Tan in Melbourne, do it next time. Plenty of water holes for tea and coffee next to it. And water bubblers. And a short walk towards Southbank once you’re finished, there are bars and restaurants galore.

This is not wilderness.


The business hours for the tea house “The Terrace” inside the Royal Botanic Garden are:

  • May to September: 9.45am to 4pm
  • October to April: 9am to 5pm

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