The city drops away suddenly just east of Spring St, giving way to Melbourne’s beautiful backyard, Fitzroy Gardens. The park's stately avenues are lined with English elms, flowerbeds, expansive lawns, strange fountains and a creek. A highlight is Cooks' Cottage, which belonged to the parents of navigator Captain James Cook. The cottage was shipped brick by brick from Yorkshire and reconstructed here in 1934. Nearby is a visitor centre with a cafe attached and the delightful 1930s Conservatory.

In the centre of the gardens is a cutesy miniature Tudor village. This well-meaning gift was a London pensioner's way of saying thanks to Melburnians for sending food to Britain during WWII. Right next to it is writer Ola Cohn’s kooky carved Fairies' Tree, a 300-year-old stump embellished in the 1930s with fairies, pixies, kangaroos, emus and possums. Between Cooks’ Cottage and the Fairies Tree is what is known as a Scarred Tree: now a large stump, it was once stripped of a piece of its bark by the local Aboriginal people to make a canoe.