Flagstaff gardens once a cemetery.

The earliest of Melbourne’s public city parks, Flagstaff Gardens in West Melbourne was the original cemetery of the early settlement.

First known as Burial Hill, the first interment was carried out in 1836.

Later the rapid growth of the settlement created a need for a new cemetery elsewhere in 1838.

In 1840 a flagstaff was put up on the earlier site in order to signal ships arriving in Port Phillip Bay.

original signal station on Flagstaff hill

The hill soon became known as Flagstaff Hill and was a favorite gathering place for those seeking news of shipping and exchanging notes from, England with their friends.

Today, the gardens are an oasis in the heart of the commercial centre of Melbourne, situated in an area otherwise lacking in open space.

The parks are essentially English in character, and feature two floral displays each year.

by W. Frank Keenan, director of Melbourne City Council’s Parks Gardens and Recreation Department. First published in the Northern Advertiser.

Images from The State Library of Victoria.

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