Six Walks Episode Two: Sophie Cunningham on Royal Park


Royal Park
This walk begins at Burke and Wills Monument and concludes at Trin Warren Tam-boore (Bellbird Waterhole). Key sites along the way include The Melbourne Zoo, Stop 24 Tram Stop, Brens Drive, Manningham Street, and the White’s skink habitat.

Access key locations on Google Maps here »


3 km, one way, approx. 40 mins walk.


ACCA (Australian Centre for Contemporary Art) · Six Walks Episode 2: Sophie Cunningham on Royal Park

Listen on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Google Podcasts

In this episode of Six Walks, Sophie Cunningham invites you on a walk through Royal Park. Established in 1854, Royal Park’s very existence was both a gesture towards the colonial administrator’s belief in the role of public spaces to improve the health of the new town’s citizens, and a strategic way of building a green fortress around the city: that is parks were established as a way of displacing the traditional owners, the Wurundjeri people, from significant lands.

Sophie’s walk begins at the Burke and Wills Monument, marking the starting point of the explorers’ ill-fated expedition. On 20 August 1860 a crowd of 15,000 people stood in Royal Park to farewell 19 men, their camels and horses, before they headed north across the continent. Sophie then escorts us to the Royal Melbourne Zoological Gardens to contemplate the life of the zoo’s first elephant, Ranee, and to reimagine Ranee’s walk from Port Melbourne to the zoo, late one night in 1883. She continues her walk through remnant bushland, and down through the White’s Skink Habitat, ending at one of the city’s newest wetlands: Trin Warren Tam-boore (Bellbird Waterhole).

Sophie’s narration of her walk is interspersed with readings from her collection of essays, City of Trees, supported by the sonic landscapes of composer Martin Friedel.

Sophie Cunningham is the author of six books including City of Trees and Melbourne. She is a former publisher and editor and is now an Adjunct Professor at RMIT University’s Non/fiction Lab. 

Martin Friedel studied science but turned to music in the 1970s and has worked as a composer across a wide range of form and genre, from theatre and film to opera and contemporary classical music. His work has been recognised by a number of awards including an Emmy. His Sonic Art project Sounding Royal Park was supported by The City of Melbourne COVID-19 Arts Grants.

Curator: Annika Kristensen
Audio technician: Simon Cotter
Transcription: Agnes Whalen


Parts of this walk contain uneven terrain, including unpaved dirt, gravel and grass, in particular the walk between the Zoo and Trin Warren Tam-boore (Bellbird Waterhole). The Burke and Wills Monument can also be accessed from the Melbourne Zoo car park. There are six accessible parking bays near the main entrance of Melbourne Zoo, and seven further accessible parking bays are also located near the rail gate entrance. The Trin Warren Tam-boore (Bellbird Waterhole) can be accessed from the Oak Street Carpark, where there are accessible parking spaces. Guide dogs and assistance animals are welcome across all areas this walk.

Six Walks has been conceived to be ideally listened to in situ, with headphones on a personal mobile device. Maps, directions and access notes are included with each walk to assist with orientation. ACCA reminds participants to be aware of their surroundings and to adhere to road safety guidelines at all times. Please note that when undertaking a walk, participants must assume personal responsibility for any liability, injury, loss, or damage in any way connected with their experience of Six Walks.

Recorded in a podcast format, Six Walks can also be listened to from anywhere and at any time.

Burke and Wills Memorial Cairn, Royal Park
Melbourne Zoo, Elliott Ave, Parkville
Exterior wall of zoo
Route 58 tram through Royal Park
Crossing Brens Drive
Walking down Manningham Street
Stairway to Capital City Trail, Manningham Street
Path through remnant bushland towards Trin Warren Tam-boore, running parallel to Capital City trail and the railway line

Trin Warren Tam-boore (bellbird waterhole)

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