The Pioneer Women’s Memorial Garden in the Royal Domain is an area of peace and charm



I believe some of this tranquility comes from the  formal and the symmetrical design.  It is pleasing to the eye and it seems to balance  the mind.  Or maybe it is just the over-all beauty of the design.

The garden was officially opened in 1935. It was designed by Hugh Linakar as part of Victoria’s centenary celebrations.   It is a sunken garden cut into the side of the hill, an aspect that gives it privacy and form.

The cross shaped water canal leads to a blue tiled grotto.  This is the centre piece of the garden.

Blue Grotto
The delicate bronze figure by Charles Web-Gilbert’s of a woman is set in the centre of the grotto.  The gardeners have let the ivy from above fall towards the water below and although this partly covers the plaques it softens the feature.  Water lilies grow in the canal.


There are no seats provided but there is plenty of grass for a rug.  The garden was dedicated to Victoria’s  pioneer women.  This place is a beautiful tribute to their hard work, their dedication to their new country and to their families.

Last time we were there we found ourselves discussing what the lives of these pioneer women would have been like and  how different our lives are.   We didn’t envy them.   We gave a quiet thank you to these early pioneers for helping making what we have today possible.

We agreed that one of the big differences is choices.  What choices did those women have?

This garden is a truly beautiful memorial to them.


This is the top of the sunken garden viewed as you approach from Birdwood Avenue.

This area is adjacent to the Botanical Gardens and is part of The Domain Parklands

You can down load information and a map to the The Domain Parklands here.

Getting there:-

Any tram from Federation Square that runs along St Kilda Road as far as the Domain Road Intersection, or if you want to get off in Domain Road and walk across the parklands from there catch the No 8.

There is metered parking along Birdwood Avenue and Linlithgow Avenue.


  • Julie says:

    Is there any where a copy of the list of pioneer names that are under the sundial? It is a beautiful garden. I understand that there is a garden somewhere in Melbourne that has a plaque with the names of those pioneer women. I would like to find this garden as part of my family history journey.

  • Dear Julie,
    It was the National Council of Women of Victoria that lobbied in the early 1930′s for the garden to be developed. To pay for this members and their friends contributed one shilling, same as the Shilling Wall at QVCentre. The Stste Library Victoria will soon have our archived material with info. The next Pioneer Women’s Memorial Ceremony will be held on 19th January at 10.00am 2012- many dignitaries attend- please feel free to come along.

  • S. Byard says:

    Margaret Cutherbertson and Vida Goldstein proposed that a small fee be charged for lodging an entry giving a brief story about a pioneer woman, and this was done. The volume is available through the State Library of Victoria, the Mitchell Library, the National Library and the RHSV. Also in the State Library catalogue you can find Records of the pioneer women of Victoria, 1835-1860 [microform] / compiled by the Historical Committee of the Women’s Centenary Council. Women’s Centenary Council (Vic.). Historical Committee. Supposedly the list of names is also in a time capsule under the sundial in the PWM Garden.

  • Melbourne says:

    Thank you for the information. These gardens are a beautiful reminder of these women and it is good to know that some of their names haven’t been lost in time. Em

  • Pat Raouf says:

    A Truly beautiful setting, except for one thing. The artist/creator was obviously male, as the nymph is scantily clad and even the little there is, is virtually see-through. And especially for those times. How she/that relates to down-to-earth, hardworking, often up against it pioneering women, who mostly each bore many children with no mod cons whatever, I can’t imagine. And that is quite aside from often working side by side with their menfolk doing hard, physical yakka, as well. Apart from her lack of practical attire, she looks wispy and fairy-like and wouldn’t have lasted five minutes out there in amongst it all like the real women of that era.

  • Melbourne says:

    Hi Pat
    Thanks for your comment. Of course you’re right the women did lead very hard lives. But I wonder if a bit of whimsy would have appealed to them – something away from their grim reality.

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